For a while I thought I would be attending All-Star week in Minneapolis, which was an exciting prospect. It hasn't worked out, but it did remind me that I used to publicly post my All-Star picks in this very public place...for the ridicule of all. But my choices are also always 100% correct, since my word is infallible.
Moving past that total nonsense, and ignoring the inherent issues with the All-Star game, who do you think should be the starting nine for the American League? Here are my picks, with an arbitrary minimum of plate appearances set to 200.
Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics
Norris isn't a qualified hitter for league awards since he isn't averaging 3.1 plate appearances per team game, but he's not far off. And he's been, by far, the best offensive catcher in the American League this season. Oakland has themselves a collection of very interesting talent.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
There are a lot of talented first baseman in the American League this year, and Encarnacion is having a better year than all of them. He leads all of baseball in home runs, and in terms of pure power is second only to Jose Abreu. But even when comparing Encarnacion to Miguel Cabrera, do you know who the better hitter has been this year? It's close, but it's Encarnacion.
Previous Selections: 1 (2013)
Runner-Up: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
Dozier's breakout has extended from last season and into this one, leading second basemen in a number of offensive categories. He leads a list with three other strong contenders (Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano), but Dozier's combination of offensive production and defensive prowess lifts him above the fray. Congratulations, Brian. If you're not the starting second baseman for the American League side, we can only blame voter bias.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (I really wanted to pick Altuve for this spot)
Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
Donaldson is everything you could want in a third baseman: a very good defender, hit for power, good discipline. He's not having the banner year that he put together in 2013, but it's still a great year for the Oakland third baseman, and it's his glove that pushes him above the runner-up here.
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United States of America of Planet Earth of the Milky Way
There are no truly standout options at shortstop, but we do have a couple of players who have put together solid campaigns both offensively and defensively. In this tier of player, Eduardo Escobar comes in third in my book - but because he has not played the position as often as the two other top contenders for this spot I can't, in good conscience, give it to him while trying to be objective. Aybar, for his part, has always been an above average player and is having one of his best seasons at the plate. He deserves this spot.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
If you're noticing a developing pattern, I can tell you why: it's because, in spite of the view that the American League Central is the soft younger brother of the East and the West, it's actually the central that has a good deal of the league's best talent. None of the teams in the AL Central are truly bad teams this year, and this list is representative of the division's strengths. Gordon is enjoying a bounce back year, having been down in 2013 after good seasons in 2011 and 2012. He's accrued 19.7 wins above replacement over the last four seasons, and this year is only half over.
Mike Trout, The The Angels Angels
He's not even a human. Trout continues to be one of the game's best players, and is on course for an MVP, Gold Glove, and hey, why not, a Cy Young.
Previous Selections: 2 (2012, 2013)
Runner-Up: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
When he's not smashing the ball, he's taking a walk. His penchant for getting on base and running up the score with extra base hits means he's in another stratosphere when it comes to comparing his offensive metrics to his peers. On the scale of wOBA, the next-closest player (George Springer) is 63 points behind. wRC+? Alex Rios is 49 points behind. There is no one else.
Previous Selections: 4 (2010 - 2013)
Runner-Up: George Springer, Houston Astros
Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
With Cabrera at first and with the state of his knees/legs/back, Martinez's days as a defender are mostly a thing of the past. But as a hitter, he can still smash it with the best of them. He's been a monster this year, running up the best offensive numbers the position has seen this year. It's hard to believe he's already 35 years old.
Previous Selections: 4 (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010)
Runner-Up: Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles (Again)
|2007||Jorge Posada||Justin Morneau||Brian Roberts||Alex Rodriguez||Derek Jeter||Magglio Ordonez||Torii Hunter||Vladimir Guerrero||n/a|
|2008||Joe Mauer||Kevin Youkilis||Ian Kinsler||Alex Rodriguez||Michael Young||Josh Hamilton||Grady Sizemore||Jermaine Dye||Milton Bradley|
|2009||Joe Mauer||Kevin Youkilis||Ian Kinsler||Evan Longoria||Jason Bartlett||Jason Bay||Torii Hunter||Ben Zobrist||n/a|
|2010||Joe Mauer||Justin Morneau||Robinson Cano||Adrian Beltre||Derek Jeter||Josh Hamilton||Torii Hunter||Ichiro Suzuki||Vladimir Guerrero|
|2011||Alex Avila||Adrian Gonzalez||Dustin Pedroia||Kevin Youkilis||Jhonny Peralta||Alex Gordon||Jacoby Ellsbury||Jose Bautista||David Ortiz|