With the midway point of the season on the horizon, what better time to break into our first discussion of the All-Star game? Feel free to check who I selected in the 2007 and 2008 editions, but now it's onto the '09 team.
#7 / Catcher / Minnesota Twins
Apr 19, 1983
|2009 - Joe Mauer||51||188||41||74||12||1||14||43||29||25||1||1||.394||.468||.691|
There's really no other choice you can make, that's how good of a year Joe Mauer is having. Hell, he could be hitting 100 points less in each of the triple slash categories and he'd still be the American League's starting catcher. He's having the best year of his career to date, across the board. Nobody deserves to represent his league more than Mauer.
Previous Selections: 2 (2006, 2008)
Runner-Up: Mike Napoli, Angels
#20 / First Base / Boston Red Sox
Mar 15, 1979
|2009 - Kevin Youkilis||60||208||45||65||17||1||12||42||42||59||4||1||.313||.442||.577|
First base was a hard decision, because there are a lot of guys tearing the cover off the ball (Miguel Cabrera, Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena, Victor Martinez, Mark Teixeira...and some lumberjack from Seattle). But Kevin Youkilis wins out not just because he can hit, but because he's not too shabby with the glove, either. And are you seeing the same on-base percentage number as I am? The man is a machine, and I've wished this before and I'll wish it again: I wish Youk played for the Twins so they could bat Mauer/Youkilis one/two.
#5 / Second Base / Texas Rangers
Jun 22, 1982
|2009 - Ian Kinsler||72||294||54||80||17||2||18||50||36||42||16||2||.272||.351||.527|
Ian Kinsler is following up a great '08 campaign with yet another offensively successful season. He's already tied his home run total from last year, and hopefully he can stay healthy and hit the 130-games played mark. Texas doesn't have the offensive juggernaut it had last season, but that's not stopping Kinsler from topping a list of great candidates for the second base gig.
#3 / Third Base / Tampa Bay Rays
Oct 07, 1985
|2009 - Evan Longoria||72||268||45||82||24||0||16||63||32||69||2||0||.306||.384||.575|
Then there's Evan Longoria, who's having quite a laugh over the idea of a "sophomore slump". The man has been an absolute monster, racking up extra-base hits like C.C. Sabathia racks up the pounds. Not only is he a beast with the bat, but he's pretty slick in the field as well (13.4 UZR/150). If you had to pick any third baseman in baseball to start your franchise with, considering his age you might have to pick him over A-Rod, wouldn't you? At least right now, he's that good.
#8 / Short Stop / Tampa Bay Rays
Oct 30, 1979
|2009 - Jason Bartlett||56||209||42||76||15||3||7||36||13||32||16||1||.364||.401||.565|
Yes, that's right...Jason Barlett. Here you see him rocking the Josten's senior picture for the yearbook. This guy is raking at an unsustainable rate, if only because 28% of his BIP are line drives. He's always been pretty reliable as far as being a contact hitter, at least in terms of scoring good ratios with line drives, but this year he's actually hitting more fly balls than grounders. And that's a little bizarre. The result has been more power, and along with that .407 BABIP he's sitting pretty. Like I said, unsustainable, but respect must be paid. Here's to you, Mr. Bartlett.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays
#44 / Left Field / Boston Red Sox
Sep 20, 1978
|2009 - Jason Bay||73||267||49||74||16||2||19||69||46||67||5||1||.277||.386||.566|
Rumors keep swirling about the Red Sox signing Jason Bay to a long-term deal, but for whatever reason it hasn't happened yet. Maybe they're waiting for him to cool off so he won't be quite as expensive...y'know, save a cool million or two. Well, no sign of that happening either, just yet. Bay, rocking the mug shot after holding up a 711, is the guy every team wants as a left fielder. He walks a lot, he hits for great power and he has superb control of the strike zone. He's a stud.
#48 / Center Field / Los Angeles Angels
Jul 18, 1975
|2009 - Torii Hunter||68||247||50||76||16||1||17||56||30||43||12||3||.308||.385||.587|
Torii Hunter is a handsome guy, so what's up with this shot? Either he just tasted some cheese that somebody made themselves and is trying really hard to be polite, or they snapped the shot right as he was trying to squeeze out a little air. Anyway, did you know Hunter was capable of this? After hitting roughly his career averages last year offensively, this season we're seeing him tear the cover off the ball once again. The walk rates are career-best, and he's not a big line drive guy, which basically tells me that it doesn't matter if Torii is hitting grounders, liners or flies...because he's just hitting everything hard. His UZR/150 is in the negative (-4.5) for the fourth year in a row, but when a center fielder can hit like he is this year that doesn't matter. He's making up for it. Good for you, Torii.
#18 / Right Field / Tampa Bay Rays
May 26, 1981
|2009 - Ben Zobrist||69||209||43||60||14||4||16||45||40||47||8||2||.287||.404||.622|
Ben Zobrist? Freak of nature. Is isolated power is way up, his walks are way up, and one out of every four balls he hits in the air leaves the park. It's been an unreal year, and nobody could have predicted this. Even better, the man is an outstanding right fielder (22.5 UZR/150). What's there not to like? Sure, Jermaine Dye is having a fine season at the plate, but this one isn't even close. Hell, it's not even close compared to who came in as the runner-up.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
That's who I'm voting for. Who's on your ballot? Did I miss anyone?