Projecting the 2010 NL All-Star team

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With voting close at several positions, there aren’t as many sure bets for the NL All-Star team as the AL squad. That’ll make things a bit more challenging today. Still, I’m going to give projecting the 21 hitters and 13 pitchers a try.
Catcher
Locks: none
Possibilities: Yadier Molina, Brian McCann, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Ruiz
Molina currently leads McCann in the fan balloting by about 120,000 votes. The best bet is that both go as the NL’s two catchers, but they are having down seasons. The NL’s top three catchers by OPS are Olivo, Geovany Soto and Nick Hundley. Barajas, with 11 homers and 30 RBI, has been the No. 1 run producer. Pudge is tops with a .316 average. I’m listing Ruiz because NL manager Charlie Manuel might go that route if he’s given a choice. There just aren’t any standouts here.
First base
Lock: Albert Pujols
Possibilities: Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Glaus, Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff, Ryan Howard
The NL has five first basemen with OPSs over 900: Pujols (974), Votto (969), Gonzalez (961), Huff (949), and Dunn (929). Still, it remains to be seen how many of those guys will get the call when Glaus and Howard will have plenty of support themselves. Glaus leads the NL with 55 RBI, and Howard isn’t far behind at 51. Fortunately, with the DH spot available, at least four first basemen figure to make the team.
Second base
Lock: Chase Utley
Possibilities: Martin Prado, Kelly Johnson, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips
All five second basemen listed here have OPSs between 837 and 874. I think Prado is a pretty sure thing to go as Utley’s backup, given his .339 average. Johnson also has a shot, particularly since no other Diamondback stands out.
Third base
Locks: none
Possibilities: Placido Polanco, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Rolen, Mark Reynolds, Casey McGehee
Polanco currently has a 130,000-vote lead over Wright in the fan balloting. Zimmerman and Rolen have been the NL’s best third basemen this season, but it’s possible neither will get to go if Polanco’s lead holds up.
Shortstop
Lock: Hanley Ramirez
Possibilities: Troy Tulowitzki*, Juan Uribe, Jose Reyes, Stephen Drew
It seemed like a given that Hanley and Tulo would be the NL’s shortstops, but Tulo’s broken wrist changed that in a hurry. Perhaps he’ll still be named to the squad and replaced. Uribe is the obvious candidate to fill in, even though he’s hardly a legitimate defensive shortstop these days. Behind Tulo at 877, Hanley at 862 and Uribe at 834, the next highest OPS for an NL shortstop belongs to Drew at 766.
Outfield
Locks: Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward, Andre Ethier
Possibilites: Andrew McCutchen, Corey Hart, Jayson Werth, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Shane Victorino, Josh Willingham, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, Jonny Gomes, Chris Young, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Ludwick, Hunter Pence
Fourth-place outfielder Werth is 380,000 votes back of Ethier in the fan balloting, so it’s safe to assume the starting outfield is set.
I think McCutchen is nearly a lock as well. At .315/.392/.479 with 18 steals, he’s the obvious choice to represent the Pirates.
Hart, as the NL home run leader, looks like a strong bet to claim a spot. If Manuel has his way, it’s safe to assume that at least one from the Werth-Victorino duo will go. Werth is more deserving, but a true second center fielder would be nice. I’d like to see Rasmus get the nod for that spot. Young, as the potential lone Diamondback, is another option.
Pitcher
SP possibilities: Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Lincecum, Jaime Garcia, Yovani Gallardo, Livan Hernandez, Chris Carpenter, Mike Leake, Carlos Silva, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Oswalt, Tommy Hanson, Stephen Strasburg
RP possibilities: Jonathan Broxton, Billy Wagner, Matt Capps, Carlos Marmol, Brian Wilson, Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Ryan Franklin, Leo Nunez, Luke Gregerson, Arthur Rhodes, Tyler Clippard
It’s impossible to project the pitching staff without knowing who is starting the Sunday before the game, but Jimenez, Johnson, Wainwright and Halladay seem like sure things, even if one or two end up being replaced on the roster.
Personally, I’m against the idea of Strasburg going and taking a spot away from someone who has earned it over the course of the season. And while they’ll never say it publically, I can’t imagine the Nationals are thrilled by the idea either.
In the bullpen, Broxton and Wagner seem like sure things and Marmol might go as the lone Cub. The choices for the lone Astro come down to Oswalt, Lindstrom and Pence. It figures that one of the pitchers will go.
The 2010 NL All-Stars
Lineup

SS Hanley Ramirez
2B Chase Utley
1B Albert Pujols
RF Andre Ethier
LF Ryan Braun
DH Adrian Gonzalez
3B David Wright
CF Jason Heyward
C Yadier Molina
Reserves
C Brian McCann
1B Joey Votto
1B Troy Glaus
1B Ryan Howard
2B Martin Prado
3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Scott Rolen
SS Troy Tulowitzki*
SS Juan Uribe
OF Corey Hart
OF Andrew McCutchen
OF Jayson Werth
OF Chris Young
Pitchers
Ubaldo Jimenez
Josh Johnson
Adam Wainwright
Roy Halladay
Matt Cain
Roy Oswalt
Tim Lincecum
Mike Pelfrey
Jonathan Broxton
Billy Wagner
Carlos Marmol
Brian Wilson
Heath Bell

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.