Voting for the 2009 MLB All Star game ended last night, but the results won’t be revealed until Sunday. I already looked at who deserved to start for the American League. Here is the NL:
Catcher: Brian McCann
McCann sports a .309 batting average with a .393 OBP and an .898 OPS. His 8 home runs and 33 RBI are both second among NL catchers and his 14 doubles are tied for first. His 5 errors are a lot at catcher, but he has also thrown out 26.7% of runners trying to steal against him. McCann’s statistics aren’t anything special, but the NL has zero superstar catchers so McCann gets the nod as the starter.
First Base: Albert Pujols
Was there any question here? Pujols leads all first basemen with a .335 average and leads all of baseball with 30 home runs, 77 RBI, and a 1.200 OPS. Those stats are by far the best in baseball. Prince Fielder, who may be the second best player in baseball, unfortunately plays the same position in baseball so even though he would start at any other position, he has to play second-fiddle to Prince Albert here.
Second Base: Chase Utley
Utley is the clear choice amongst NL second basemen as he leads all others with 17 home runs, 52 RBIs, 54 runs, a .436 OBP, and a .982 OPS. He’s third with a .300 average and also has seven stolen bases. His .984 fielding percentage is fifth best in the NL and makes him the clear choice to start for the National League.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
Continuing along with the trend of easy choices, Ramirez’s great numbers make him the clear choice. Ramirez right now has the Triple Crown amongst NL shortstops with 13 homers, 58 RBI, and a .348 batting average. His 26 doubles are tied for first with Miguel Tejada and he also leads in OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, runs, and stolen bases. There’s no one that gives Ramirez a run for his money at short and that is why he deserves to start.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval
Finally, a choice that’s not so obvious. The National League had a couple of candidates to start at third base but Sandoval gets the nod. He’s tied for third in home runs, tied for fifth in RBI, and second in batting average amongst NL third basemen. However, he has the highest OPS and is tied for the most doubles as well. Mark Reynolds’s 22 home runs and 57 RBI would have won him the spot, but Sandoval has struck out 64 times less than Reynolds this year, a huge number in just half a season.
Left Field: Raul Ibanez
Ibanez has cooled down a bit lately, but he still leads NL left fielders with 22 home runs and 59 RBI while he is third in batting average at .312. His 1.027 OPS is also tops amongst NL left fielders. Ryan Braun is also having a terrific season with 16 homers, 58 RBI, and a .327 average, but he has had 20% more at bats than Ibanez and that is why the Phillies’ left fielder gets the nod.
Center Field: Carlos Beltran
Even though he is injured right now, Beltran has still been the top center fielder in the National League as he leads all others with a .336 average, 425 OBP, and a .952 OPS. He has just 8 home runs and 40 RBI, but he also has significantly fewer at bats than the rest of his competitors. Most of all though, he has just 34 strikeouts on the year, compared to his competition of which may are above 60. He has 11 stolen bases and has been caught just once while he is tied for second in doubles with 20.
Right Field: Brad Hawpe
Back to the easy ones, Hawpe leads all NL right fielderwith 56 RBI, a .333 average, a .405 OBP, a .605 slugging percentage, a 1.008 OPS, and 25 doubles. His 13 home runs is 5th and his 84 hits are third. He has made just 2 errors this season and has set himself apart from the rest of the league.
Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren
Haren leads the National League with a 2.19 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP, and a 7.53 strikeout-walk ratio. His 7-5 record doesn’t tell the whole story as that is not a mark on his pitching, but a mark on the Diamonbacks’ woeful offense. He has 113 strikeouts in 115 innings. The most impressive stat of all is that he has walked just 15 guys all year. That is truly incredible as most pitchers have walked two or three times that number in many fewer innings.
So there is the starting nine for the National League. There were a couple of tough choices here, but like the AL, most were fairly obvious. I’ll present my Mid-Season Awards when the All-Star break rolls around (Cy Youngs may be clear right now) so look out for those in the near future.