Earlier this month, I started a small project to name my own All-Star team. It ended up being longer than expected and we decided to break it into two parts. So here’s part two where I divulge my picks for who should get a nod in the National League. I made these picks at the same time as I did the AL ones, and not one thing has changed. As a result, any stats I came up with may/will be slightly out-of-date. Obviously the actual rosters are out now, as well.
Shortstop (2) - Corey Seager (Dodgers), Zack Cozart (Reds)
Outfield (5) - Bryce Harper (Nationals), Marcell Ozuna (Marlins), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Michael Conforto (Mets), Ender Inciarte (Braves)
Designated Hitter (2) - Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), Eric Thames (Brewers)
Pitchers (14) - Max Scherzer (Nationals), Zack Greinke (D’Backs), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Carlos Martinez (Cardinals), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Jeff Samardzija (Giants), Jimmy Nelson (Brewers), Kenley Jansen (Dodgers), Wade Davis (Cubs), Archie Bradley (D’Backs), Koji Uehara (Cubs), Pat Neshek (Phillies), Brad Hand (Padres), Greg Holland (Rockies)
This is the team composition:
Nationals - 4, Braves - 2, Marlins - 2, Phillies - 1, Mets - 1. Division - 10
Cubs - 3, Cardinals - 1, Brewers - 2, Pirates - 1, Reds - 2. Division - 9
Dodgers - 6, Giants - 2, D’Backs - 3, Padres - 1, Rockies - 3. Division - 15
And to defend my choices:
Catcher - Buster Posey is the easiest choice I made in the National League. As much as I have my favorites, there’s no clearer domination of a position than that of Buster Posey at the catcher position. But enough about him, what about J.T. Realmuto? He might the single most underappreciated player in the league right now. A good blend of offensive pop and defensive acumen, Realmuto has quietly come into his own in Miami. Yasmani Grandal is one of six Dodgers I have in the game, which may seem crazy, but the Dodgers are arguably the best team in baseball and they play in either the toughest, or second-toughest division in baseball to boot.
1st Base - One thing I really dislike about the National League is that so many of these slots seem open and shut, and it’s more a matter of who you believe to be the most worthy backup. Paul Goldschmidt runs away with this position, and I had a tricky time coming up with the backups at this position. I decided on Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman. I believe Freeman will be back in time. (Ed. Note: He is indeed back, and playing third base because the Braves need to get Matt Adams in the lineup. What a time to be alive.) If he is not, you give his roster spot to Anthony Rizzo. I don’t think it will be an issue though. Either way, there are a ton of big first basemen in the league.
2nd Base - I spoke a little about this in response to the FanPost, but I think I want to vote Josh Harrison, especially considering he’s the only Pirate I really considered for the All-Star game. I also like Jameson Taillon, and he certainly has an interesting story, but ultimately there were too many good pitchers in the NL this year. Harrison, as such, will be the lone Pirates rep in this universe, with Daniel Murphy backing him up. Daniel Murphy is a tremendous player, and I believe this so strongly that Murphy will be the only actual backup at this position.
3rd Base - This position is the most competitive one. You have so many good third basemen, with as many as five or six deserving candidates to get a start here. I’m going to choose Kris Bryant to be the starter because I believe him to be the most entertaining of the options. Of the three I chose, he’s the worst defensively. I’m choosing Nolan Arenado to back up Bryant after he gets his swings in, with Justin Turner, who you can easily argue as the best of the three quite, relegated to super-sub, because of his ability to play basically any infield position. It’s not always fair, but Turner could play an important role late in the game as a result.
Shortstop - I don’t really think anyone is actual competition for Corey Seager at this position besides the player I named to be his backup. For all the young talent currently permeating the major leagues, Seager represents what happens when everything breaks just right. Last year, you could have made a case for Seager being the MVP. The same is true again thus far in 2017. And if history is any indication, we can probably expect that to be true for the next decade. His backup, Zack Cozart is having an insane season, and I really wish I could give him the start. Unfortunately his weak play in June helped Seager leapfrog him. Had he kept it up for one more month, I believe the roles would be reversed.
Outfield - I discussed the trifecta of Bryce Harper, Marcell Ozuna, and Charlie Blackmon above, already, so I won’t repeat myself. But this is probably the best statistical outfield you can roll with, and I have mad love for Bryce Harper anyways. Their backups should be pretty straightforward, as I add Michael Conforto and Ender Inciarte, Conforto for his bat, and Inciarte for his glove. If not for the fact I have to eventually take them out, I’d probably let the starting outfield go the whole game though.
Designated Hitter - The National League is silly and doesn’t follow the DH rule, so they don’t actually have anyone to vote for at this position. The good news is that means I can choose anyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever played DH. I’m choosing Cody Bellinger, because seriously, come on. He spotted the field roughly 20 games, and he still leads the National League in home-runs. He’s got a 4 dinger lead on 2nd place, which is tied between six players. His backup is going to be Eric Thames, because even though he’s hitting .178/.312/.415 since May 18th, he’s one of the most interesting stories in the first half of the season. His output has cooled, so much so that he’s no longer a starter, but he’s definitely a guy I think deserves a chance to finally make his first all-star game.
Pitchers - I don’t think there’s really a wrong choice among the top four or so starters in the National League. I think you can go with any of them. Max Scherzer is my pick, because statistically, he’s the best. After throwing two innings, I would want the order of pitchers to be: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez, Brad Hand, Greg Holland, Pat Neshek, and Kenley Jansen. Neshek plays because he’s the lone Phillies rep. Same with Hand and the Padres. And same with Martinez with the Cardinals. It’s unfortunate, but I want other teams fanbases to have a fun time. Which means no Stephen Strasburg, Jeff Samardzija, or Jimmy Nelson unless the game goes into extra innings. Koji Uehara and Archie Bradley earn front row seats for their excellence in 2017 as well.
The National League is absolutely stacked, and I look forward to a fun hypothetical All-Star Game.
The actual rosters are out, so how do you think I did?