WAR does the All-Star teams – AL version

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Going strictly by Wins Above Replacement (in this case, the Baseball-Reference version of it), here’s your 2011 AL All-Star team of the moment:

C Matt Wieters (Orioles) – 1.6
1B Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) – 1.9
2B Howie Kendrick (Angels) – 2.2
3B Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) – 1.9
SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) – 1.8
LF Jeff Francoeur (Royals) – 2.1
CF Denard Span (Twins) – 2.4
RF Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) – 4.1
DH Matt Joyce (Rays) – 2.9

C Alex Avila (Tigers) – 1.6
C Carlos Santana (Indians) – 1.5
1B Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) – 1.6
1B Justin Smoak (Mariners) – 1.3
2B Robinson Cano (Yankees) – 1.2
3B Adrian Beltre (Rangers) – 1.5
SS Erick Aybar (Angels) – 1.4
INF Maicer Izturis (Angels) – 1.9
OF Curtis Granderson (Yankees) – 1.9
OF Shin-Soo Choo (Indians) – 1.8
OF Ben Zobrist (Rays) – 1.7
OF Michael Brantley (Indians) – 1.5

Josh Beckett (Red Sox) – 2.8
Dan Haren (Angels) – 2.8
Trevor Cahill (Athletics) – 2.5
Zach Britton (Orioles) – 2.4
Jered Weaver (Angels) – 2.2
Alexi Ogando (Rangers) – 2.0
James Shields (Rays) – 2.0
Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 2.0

Sergio Santos (White Sox) – 1.5
Aaron Crow (Royals) – 1.2
Mariano Rivera (Yankees) – 1.1
Grant Balfour (Athletics) – 1.0
Glen Perkins (Twins) – 0.9

– Obviously, WAR really likes Span’s defense this year.   It rates him as the AL’s No. 3 outfielder even though he’s hitting a modest .286/.358/.345.  Curtis Granderson has an OPS nearly 250 points higher, yet he’s been a half-win less valuable, according to the stat.

– Going strictly by WAR, the pitching staff would have been all starters.  I moved on to relievers, though, to keep it realistic.  Max Scherzer and Michael Pineda were the top starters not to make the cut.  If I had added Pineda to the pitching staff as Seattle’s representative, then Paul Konerko (1.4) would have made the cut at first base over Smoak.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.