July 1, 2008

My NL All Stars

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves
After breaking out in 2006, McCann had a good season for a catcher in '07, but not for him. So far this season, he's hitting .295 and has a .900 OPS. He has 14 home runs, just 4 behind his total from a year ago and is on pace for just under 30 long balls with 90+ RBI. Honorable Mention: Russell Martin, Dodgers

First Base: Lance Berkman, Astros
Berkman also had a down 2007 season compared to a standout '06 campaign. He hit .278 which was the lowest of his career and also had the lowest OPS of his career as well. However, this season he is on pace to break nearly all of his career highs. He currently is hitting .364 (2nd in the NL) with a 1.135 OPS (1st in NL) and 21 HR's (T-3rd in NL) to go along with 67 RBI (2nd in NL). Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez, Padres

Second Base: Chase Utley, Phillies
Chase Utley has become the household name when thinking of the best second baseman in not just the National League, but in all of Major League Baseball. His bat would stand out at any position, but the fact that he's hitting 23 home runs before the mid-way point of the season while playing second base is just that much more impressive. Utley has competition as another power-hitting second baseman named Dan Uggla from the Marlins also has 23 home runs, but Utley has better numbers than him in nearly every other category which makes Utley easy to choose. Honorable Mention: Dan Uggla, Marlins

Third Base: Chipper Jones, Braves
Washed up? Yeah right! Chipper Jones just gets better with age as he's improved every year since 2004. This 36 year old is still chugging along, and although there's a chance he will miss the All-Star Game due to being injured, he still deserves the nomination. Jones is hitting just under .400 (.394) and has a 1.115 OPS and is on pace for his best season since 2001. Honorable Mention: David Wright, Mets

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
When you talk about the complete package (at least offensively), Ramirez's name should be next to it. He's the best shortstop in the game and at just 24-years-old, he's on pace for almost 200 hits and 36 home runs. This is a future Hall of Famer in the making and it's a good thing the Marlins locked him up long-term early at a fairly cheap price because he would get absurd amounts on the open market whenever he'd be eligible for free agency (which I'm aware wouldn't be for a few more years regardless). Honorable Mention: Jose Reyes, Mets

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Ryan Braun is becoming one of the best hitters in all of baseball. In just 113 games (451 at bats), Braun hit 34 home runs with 97 RBI and on hitting line of .324/.370/.634 in his Rookie year. And he definitely has not fallen into a sophomore slump this season. He is currently hitting .287 with a respectable .874 OPS and is on pace for 40 home runs and 117 RBI. It's clearly not as good as his Rookie campaign, but really expecting anything more from him than he did in '07 would be unfair. Not because he should not have to improve, but because he did so good in '07 that he really set himself up for a disappointing '08 season. But I think he's without a doubt the best outfielder in the NL right now.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Pirates
Nate McLouth was considered one of the "sleeper picks" to bust out this season and have a great season and he's done just that. McLouth's average has taken a dip in each month so far, but his overall numbers are still very good. He has 15 home runs to go along with his .280 average. He also leads all NL Outfielders with 59 runs scored.

Outfield: Carlos Lee, Astros
Carlos Lee is one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball, but still seems to be an underrated player. He currently has 18 home runs and 62 RBI to go along with his .853 OPS. His average has slowly been getting better over the course of the season and this 3 time NL All-Star definitely deserves a 4th consecutive appearance in the All-Star game. Honorable Mention: Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals

Designated Hitter: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Since the NL doesn't have a DH, I have to go with the next players who I thought of that should also be starting. Pujols is having a spectacular season despite there being rumors before the season that he'd likely be slowed down by an injured elbow. However, that doesn't seem to be the case. He has a 1.123 OPS and is hitting .356 and has 17 home runs to along with 45 RBI. Honorable Mention: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs

Starting Pitcher: Edison Volquez, Reds
The Rangers and Reds made a trade prior to the season which was very similar to the Twins-Rays trade taht brought Delmon Young to the Twins and Matt Garza to the Rays. However, the two players in the Reds-Rangers deal have both emerged as top players and potential MVP candidates while the players in the Twins-Rays trade have not made nearly the kind of impact that either of these two players have. Regardless, Volquez is withoutadoubt the best pitcher in the National League this season. He leads the N.L. with a ridiculous 2.08 ERA and is tied for second wins (10) and is second in strikeouts (110). Honorable Mention: Tim Lincecum, Giants

(All stats are as of games played before 6/30)