The Major League Baseball season is nearing its midpoint and with that comes the 2008 All Star game in Yankee Stadium. With fans voting for the All Star starters, the game many times turns into a popularity contest with deserving players not voted in as starters. Here are those American League players who should be starting at the 2008 All Star game:
Designated Hitter: I find it funny this year that there are no designated hitters have good years. I will give the nod to David Ortiz (though he is injured) with his 13 home runs and 43 RBI, but his .252 batting average makes him a non-ideal candidate. Of the 6 players qualifying for DH, only Hideki Matsui has a batting average above .265, but Matsui has only 7 home runs and 34 RBI, hardly an All Star caliber season. No DH is slugging above .500, so with the lack of talent at DH this year, I select Ortiz as he is the most balanced player amongst designated hitters.
Catcher: There aren’t very many candidates in the AL for starting catcher, but it has to go to someone. With a .332 batting average and .417 on base percentage, Joe Mauer is my choice to start at catcher. He has only 2 home runs and 27 RBI, but no other American League catcher stands out. Mauer has made only 2 errors at catcher all season and has thrown out 34% of runners.
First Base: At first base, there are two worthy candidates with Justin Morneau and Kevin Youkilis. Morneau has 11 homers, 56 RBI, a .308 batting average, and a .864 OPS. Youkilis meanwhile also has 11 home runs with 44 RBI, a. 305 batting average, and .906 OPS. Both have made only 1 error on the year and both deserve to start in the All Star game. Morneau has a significant advantage in RBI while everything else is nearly even (Youk has a slight advantage in OPS) so I have to give the nod to Morneau.
Second Base: This one was easy. Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers leads all second basemen with 10 home runs and 42 RBI and is second in batting average at .305. Kinsler has 17 stolen bases and has only been caught once. There is one clear hole in Kinsler’s game: his defense. Kinsler has made 8 more errors than any other second basemen this year with 14. This gives me some doubt in Kinsler as an All Star starter, but he has been by far the best offensive second baseman in the American League.
Shortstop: Closer then second base, the competition for starting All Star shortstop goes to another Texas Ranger, Michael Young. His .282 average is top amongst second basemen and his 6 home runs and 34 RBI are second. He has a higher OPS and has scored more runs than any other second baseman in the American League. His 4 errors are the second-fewest among AL second basemen and solidify Young as the starting shortstop for the American League.
Third Basemen: As a Red Sox fan, I hate to give it to a Yankee player, especially when that Yankee is Alex Rodriguez, but he is the most deserving third baseman in the AL. He has hit 14 homers, has 46 RBI, and has a 1.054 OPS, over a 100 points higher than any other AL third baseman. A-Rod has committed only 5 errors this year and has stolen 7 bases making him the deserving third basemen to represent the American League at the 2008 All Star game.
Outfielders: My favorite part of selecting my All Star game starters is choosing the outfielders as the best talent seems to come from there and that is no different this year. Of my three outfielder selections, the easiest choice was Josh Hamilton. Hamilton has hit a league-leading 17 home runs and has driven a remarkable 74 runs. Hamilton also leads the league in hits with 93 and has a .318 batting average. Besides Hamilton, my other two outfielder selections are Milton Bradley and J.D. Drew. Bradley has a .330 average with 15 home runs and 48 RBI while Drew has similar stats, a .327 average, 13 home runs, and 43 RBI. Bradley and Drew are the only two players in the American League slugging over .600 (Hamilton is third at .596) and an OPS over 1.000 OPS (A-Rod does not technically qualify). Though there are certainly other players deserving of All Star starter consideration, Hamilton, Bradley, and Drew have played the best baseball in the American League.
There are the American League players deserving to start in Yankee Stadium at the 2008 All Star game. Check back in the next couple of weeks for the National League players!