My 2014 team featured one member of the Kansas City Royals as a starter (Alex Gordon in left field), and two more as runners-up (Salvador Perez at catcher and Alcides Escobar at short). As always I try to be moderately objective in who I pick, and if you've read through my teams in the past you'll know I heavily favor current-season performance over career performance or a veteran who maybe deserves a tip of the cap.
Below my selections for this year's team will be a comprehensive look at my past All-Star rosters, in case you want to ridicule me years too late, and of course I'd like to see your team in the comments. Here's how my picks shook out this year. Once again my arbitrary minimum for plate appearances is set to 200.
Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics
FanGraphs has Vogt and Russell Martin neck-and-neck with 2.9 fWAR each, but that triple slash from a catcher is just too much for Martin to overcome. Vogt's good season has come out of nowhere to a certain extent, even though he's a .305/.367/.467 career hitter in the minor leagues, and it only seemed fitting to reward him for putting up a line that a designated hitter or first baseman would be proud of.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Cabrera continues to be the best hitter in the league. It's ridiculous watching what this guy does on a daily basis. Remember when Detroit sent half of their farm system to Florida in return for Cabrera and the salary dump that was Dontrelle Willis? It's stupid how lopsided that deal looks now. At 32, Cabrera looks destined for the Hall of Fame as one of the best hitters to ever grace the game.
Previous Selections: 9 (2004 - 2007, 2010 - 2014)
Runner-Up: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
In a battle of heart versus head, in the interest of trying to be "fair" I had to go with Kipnis over Dozier. The season that Kipnis is having at the plate is simply absurd. If you're in a keeper fantasy baseball league and you've stuck with Kipnis, he's rewarding you big time this year. Oh and for you Jose Altuve lovers out there, and I'm among you, he ranks fifth on my list of American League second basemen.
Previous Selections: 1 (2013)
Runner-Up: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers
While he's having an okay year at the plate as a result of some luck and some well-placed ground balls (in spite of 57% of his balls in play burning worms he's batting .327 off of them), it's Iglesias' defense that sets him apart from other American League shortstops. This might be the closest call I've had to make between the starter and my runner-up.
Previous Selections: 0
Runner-Up: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
If he's not the American League MVP at this point, he's not far off. He's rewarding Toronto's decision to go 4-for-1 in a swap with Oakland by being the league's best defensive and offensive third baseman. Donaldson isn't walking as much this year but it hardly seems to matter as everything he hits he destroys. As a Super-Two, the lucky Blue Jays have him under team control for three years yet even though he was arbitration-eligible for the first time this past winter.
Previous Selections: 1 (2014)
Runner-Up: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Brett Gardner currently holds a one-tenth of a point lead over Gordon by the standard of fWAR, but wins above replacement isn't everything. He doesn't get as good of a read on the ball in left as he did in center and his arm doesn't do him any favors; Gordon, on the other hand, gives you both sides of the ball, posting the league's second-best numbers in wOBA and wRC+ in left field while also being one of, if not the best, left fielders in the league.
(While I refuse to believe any anti-Yankee bias went into my decision here, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a small thrill from not picking a Yankee.)
Previous Selections: 2 (2013, 2014)
Runner-Up: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Was there ever going to be anyone else? He's hit 20 home runs as a center fielder for crying out loud; that's more than the players ranked second, third, and fourth in fWAR at the position combined. But it's not just power. He takes walks, he's a good base runner, and as a defender he'll make any play where he can get the glove on the ball. Credit Kevin Kiermaier for his unworldly defense, but it's not nearly enough to unseat Trout.
Previous Selections: 3 (2012 - 2014)
Runner-Up: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
I was hoping I'd be able to put at least one member of the Astros into my starting lineup, but there's little reason to select George Springer over Bautista. Bautista is walking in 19% of his plate appearances this year, striking out in just 16%, and has smashed 15 home runs en route to the American League's best fWAR among right fielders. Yes, he only beats Springer by one tenth of a point, but other than base runner and contact skills Bautista has the superior stat line. If you can hit .238 and still be this productive and valuable, you're doing a lot of things right.
Previous Selections: 5 (2010 - 2014)
Runner-Up: George Springer, Houston Astros
|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|
|2014||Derek Norris||Edwin Encarnacion||Brian Dozier||Josh Donaldson||Erick Aybar||Alex Gordon||Mike Trout||Jose Bautista||Victor Martinez|