NL All-Star Update: Analyzing the Potential Starters

NL All-Star Update: Analyzing the Potential Starters

Last year the Kansas City Royals proved the power of an energized fan base when it comes to All-Star voting. Fresh off their first World Series appearance since 1985, the Kansas City faithful rewarded their players by a mass stuffing of the ballot box for their beloved Royals. For much of the update period, eight Royals were set to be the starters, with Mike Trout being the only non-Royal set for a starting bid. By the end of the voting process, seven Royals made the team including three in the starting lineup. This year’s version of the excitement in the ballot box is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies are on pace to match the 2001 Mariners with the most wins at 116. The Wrigleyville faithful hope that years of pain and disappointment will end, hopefully reaching the series for the first time since 1945 and possibly winning it for the first time since 1908. The hype in the Cubbies this years sees them with five of the eight starters this year, many with commanding leads at their position. Where it stands today, the starters from catcher to right are Yadier Molina, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler and Bryce Harper. As a Cubs fan myself, I’m ecstatic to see that my beloved Cubs are poised to start in San Diego. But, I am the first to say that there are other deserving players for every position that are currently occupied by the North Siders. As a unit, the Cubs are undoubtably the best team in the game, but individually, there are legitimate arguments that every position has a more deserving candidate. We’ll break down position by position, to see what the starters should be.

Catcher – Yadier Molina – 694,204

Starting off with catcher, the Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina leads the voting in a tight race with the Giants’ Buster Posey. As it stands, Molina is a mere 60,000 votes ahead of the face of the Giants. Although Molina has been the face of the Cardinals since Albert Pujols signed in Anaheim, he is not the most deserving catcher to start at the all-star game. In fact, neither is Posey. The guy who deserves the starting nod plays in the nation’s capital and currently sits fourth in voting, with half the votes of Molina and Posey. Wilson Ramos leads NL catchers in average, OBP, slugging percentage, RBI, and second in home runs and WAR to the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy. Ramos deserves to be the starter, but it will probably end up being Posey. Here’s the comparison between the two leaders (Molina and Posey) and the guy who deserves the start (Ramos):

MOLINA V POSEY V RAMOS

First Base – Anthony Rizzo – 1,264,404

The leading vote-getter and the heart and soul of the Chicago Cubs is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. First Base is the position where there is no true front-runner to start the game based on statistics alone. Sure Paul Goldschmidt is one of the top ten players in the game, but he and his Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a very slow start. While his average is not what many expected, Rizzo is still among league leaders in home runs, RBIs, SLG, WAR, and walks. In a lineup with so much pop, Rizzo is still the most feared hitter. While a case can be made for Rizzo and Goldschmidt, as well as second vote-getter Brandon Belt, the best all around hitter might be outfielder-turned-infielder Wil Myers who is quietly having one of the most well-rounded seasons for a first baseman. Compare his stats with the top four vote-getters (Rizzo, Belt, Gonzalez, and Goldschmidt) and you’ll see that Myers is potentially having a better season then these four. Since Myers is so far behind in voting and no one is leaps and bounds above Rizzo, there’s no reason why Rizzo shouldn’t start this year in San Diego. Still, it would be cool to see a Padre start at PETCO come July 12th. To me, Myers is the only one you can make a complete argument against a Rizzo start. Myers could potentially be a final vote candidate.

NL 1B

Second Base – Ben Zobrist – 1,140,808

Ben Zobrist has quietly become one of the most valuable and versatile players in all of baseball. When he signed with Joe Maddon’s Cubs, he added the veteran leadership and versatility that plagued the club in their 2015 run to the NLCS. Zobrist is by far the hottest hitter on the Cubs, batting .325 with eight homers and thirty-six RBI. Even with his very impressive start to his Cubs career, there has been one guy who has been hotter and probably deserves the start over him. That guy is second in voting and his name is Daniel Murphy. He was the hottest story from the NLDS and NLCS a year ago, become the reincarnation of Babe Ruth and leading the Mets to the World Series for the first time since 2000. No one thought that Murphy could keep up his hot form from the postseason, but he has after signing with the NL East rival Nationals. Despite Zobrist’s stellar, possible career year, Murphy is better. In fact for the first two months, Murph has flirted with the coveted .400 average. Murphy deserves the start, but I don’t think anyone will completely disagree with Zobrist patrolling second come the All Star game. No matter who starts, they’ll both make the team barring any injuries.

zobrist v murphy

Shortstop – Addison Russell – 832,191

Looking at shortstop, Addison Russell starting probably has the most reason to raise an eyebrow. Russell is quietly becoming one of the best rounded young shortstops in the game in a position that is crowded with young talent. However, despite stellar defense and some clutch hits, Russell is not the most deserving shortstop this year. The NL is packed with shortstops, with Gold Glover and Silver Slugger Brandon Crawford, a breakout Zack Cozart, and three stellar rookies (Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Aledmys Diaz), Russell really doesn’t deserve the start. He’ll be an all-star in years to come, but his stats just don’t compare this year around. The sad part is that Seager and Diaz aren’t even in the top five in voting. Cards and Dodgers fans have some work to do to get their young stud shortstops some all-star recognition. Plus, Seager would be fun to watch in the home run derby. Russell is really the only guy out of the five Cubbies that even the most die heart Cub fan cannot defend. Look at the stats of Russell, Crawford, Cozart, Seager, Story, and Diaz and decide for yourself.

nl ss

Third Base – Kris Bryant – 1,172,717

Third base is truly a two-horse race, both in the voting and statistically. Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado are turning into two of the most potent hitters in the game. Bryant is coming off of his impressive rookie campaign which earned him the Rookie of the Year. Arenado and Bryant’s stats are almost identical, with Arenado having a slight advantage in the triple crown statistics. Both Arenado and Bryant deserve the start and will most likely be in the MVP voting come November, but I still have to give the start to Bryant. He has shown his versatility for Joe Maddon, starting in the outfield multiple times after slugger Kyle Schwarber went down to injury. The main difference between the two is that Bryant plays for a superior team and Arenado plays for a mediocre team. Both deserve the start, but the starting position at third is Bryant’s to lose not only for this year but for the years to come. Below are their stats, where Arenado has a slight lead in most categories.

3rd nl

Outfielders – Dexter Fowler, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes

The Outfield vote is one where the voters might have it right. Fowler has been pivotal and consistent for the Cubs out of their leadoff spot, and Harper and Cespedes continue to be the most feared bat in their offenses and are potential MVP candidates. Stephen Piscotty, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco are all having stellar years for the Cardinals and Pirates but anyone who feels that the top three starters should be changed are just being picky. It will be good to see Cespedes back in the home run derby, if he decides to participate. See the stats of the six below, but I feel the top three in voting deserve the starting nods.

nl of

Recap: As a Cubs fan, even I see that the Cubs do not deserve almost every starting spot on this year’s NL All-Star Team. The great thing about a democracy is that everyone can vote for who they think deserves a starting spot. Either way, the Mid-Summer Classic will be an exciting game with some of the best young players in the game. Below is the starting lineup if the game was today as well as the lineup of who I think deserve the start. 

Line-Up As it Stands Today:

  1. Dexter Fowler CF – Chicago Cubs
  2. Ben Zobrist 2B – Chicago Cubs
  3. Bryce Harper RF – Washington Nationals
  4. Nolan Arenado DH – Colorado Rockies
  5. Anthony Rizzo 1B – Chicago Cubs
  6. Kris Bryant 3B – Chicago Cubs
  7. Yoenis Cespedes LF – New York Mets
  8. Yadier Molina C – St. Louis Cardinals
  9. Addison Russell SS – Chicago Cubs

Pitcher – Clayton Kershaw or Jake Arrieta

What I Feel the Line-Up Should Be Statistically:

  1. Dexter Fowler CF – Chicago Cubs
  2. Daniel Murphy 2B – Washington Nationals
  3. Bryce Harper RF – Washington Nationals
  4. Nolan Arenado DH – Colorado Rockies
  5. Anthony Rizzo 1B – Chicago Cubs
  6. Kris Bryant 3B – Chicago Cubs
  7. Yoenis Cespedes LF – New York Mets
  8. Corey Seager SS – Los Angeles Dodgers
  9. Wilson Ramos C – Washington Nationals

Pitcher – Clayton Kershaw or Jake Arrieta

-MH

 

Advertisements