Thanks to the overwhelming number of ten-year olds voting for their favorite hometown heroes (“Dad, where’s Yuniesky Betancourt?”), there will undoubtedly be a number of snubs for this year’s midsummer classic. Don’t spend the next three weeks on your hands and knees speculating about your favorite players – I have dutifully previewed the All-Star infield snubs. Enjoy.
C – BRIAN MCCANN (.352, 5 hr, 23 rbi) McCann’s fantastic year has been largely overlooked because of the Braves’ miserable first half. At times, McCann has been the Braves best hitter, lining pitches to all fields. With Adam LaRoche and Jeff Francoeur — poor on-base percentage hitters — batting ahead of him, McCann has not had many opportunities to produce. He has batted only 33 times with runners in scoring position all year. When the bottom half of the Braves lineup starts to hit, expect for McCann’s numbers to balloon.
Zvee’s Projected NL All-Star Catchers: Paul Lo Duca, Johnny Estrada
1B – JUSTIN MORNEAU (.288, 19 hr, 64 rbi) Morneau deserves to be June’s “Player of the Month.” The Twins slugger has raised his average .48 points in June — from .240 to .288 – and has put together some outlandish power numbers. With 9 HRs and 28 RBIs this month, Morneau trails only David Ortiz for the season’s AL RBI lead. He has carried the Twins to an 18-7 June record, leading them back into contention for the AL wild-card. At the beginning of the season, baseball gurus proclaimed that Morneau must have an outrageous year for the Twins to compete – he has and they are.
Zvee’s Projected AL All-Star 1B: David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, Jim Thome
2B – DAN UGGLA (.312, 13 hr, 43 rbi, 49 runs) Uggla hasn’t played in eight days because of a hamstring injury and Marlins manager Joe Girardi does not appear to be rushing him back. Despite a week-long absence, Uggla is still on pace to hit 25+ HRs, 95+ RBIs, 100+ runs from a second base position that is inherently weak in both leagues. He is a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year and should be highly considered on All-Star ballots. What will cost Uggla is the fact that he plays in a poor baseball market for a low-budget team that receives very little national recognition.
Zvee’s Projected NL All-Star 2B: Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips.
SS – CARLOS GUILLEN (.299, 9 hr, 44 rbi) Beyond the big four (Reyes, Tejada, Jeter, Young), there is a drastic drop-off at the shortstop position. Guillen has had a solid first half for the Tigers but assuredly will not see the mid-summer classic thanks to Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, and Michael Young, all of whom are having spectacular seasons in the American League.
Zvee’s Projected AL All-Star SS: Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter.
3B – JOE CREDE (.302, 14 hr, 54 rbi) Crede is enjoying the best offensive season of his six-year career, propelling the White Sox to a 51-27 record, 2nd best in the majors. He has elevated his average .50 points from last season – .252 to .302 – and is only eight homeruns shy of matching his career high (22, set last season). Along with Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Jim Thome, he is one of four White Sox on pace to crack 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs. Perhaps Crede’s first-half brilliance has been overshadowed by his teammates, because Crede is simply not getting the accolades he deserves. Although it’s possible that Ozzie Guillen could choose Crede as a Manager’s Selection, there are several other capable 3B candidates from which to choose.
Zvee’s Projected AL All-Star 3B: Alex Rodriguez, Troy Glaus.
UTIL. INF. – GARRETT ATKINS (.311, 10 hr, 53 rbi, 49 runs) Atkins is not flashy and that’s going to cost him in All-Star balloting. Many people have overlooked Atkins’ offensive year because of the Colorado altitude, but he isn’t driving people in with homeruns – in fact he has only 10 HRs on the year. Instead, Atkins has driven up his RBI numbers by becoming one of the most “clutch” hitters in baseball, sporting a .348 BA with runners-in-scoring-position. He is a vital part of a potent Rockies offense that has earned the nickname “Triple H’s” (Hawpe, Helton, Holliday). The only thing missing from the nickname is an Atkins inclusion – expect his absence to become a theme at the All-Star game, too.
Zvee’s Projected NL IF Reserves: Scott Rolen, Chipper Jones (sad but true).
Outfield snubs to come in my next article…