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by Mike Thomas
Guessing the All Star Rosters
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The All Star Game is right around the corner and the rosters will be announced on Saturday. Like every year, there are some interesting decisions on who makes the roster. There will be some deserving players left off and some questionable players put on. Occasionally, the fans pick for a starter isn't the best pick. Sometimes, the players choices don't make sense(see last year's Bryan LaHair pick). Today, I'll take a look on who's deserving and who is likely to make the 34 man roster.

National League

Catcher

Likely Starter: Yadier Molina

Reserve Candidate: Buster Posey

This is a close race for the NL's catcher. Molina overtook Posey last week, but the vote is very close. Either way, both players will make the roster, one as a starter, and one as a backup. I doubt the NL carries a third catcher, but if they did, Colorado's Willin Rosario or Atlanta's Brian McCann would be the most likely choices.

First Baseman

Likely Starter: Joey Votto

Reserve Candidates: Paul Goldschmidt, Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman

Votto has a big lead and is off to his 4th straight All Star appearance. Goldschmidt is having a monster year with Arizona and could be the DH for the game. Craig should make it, but Freeman or Adrian Gonzalez could challenge for that. The Cubs have better candidates at other positions, but Anthony Rizzo could be forced on the roster if their pitchers can't make the team.

Second Baseman

Likely Starter: Brandon Phillips

Reserve Candidates: Matt Carpenter, Marco Scutaro

It will be interesting to see if Bruce Bochy picks his own guy in Scutaro, or Carpenter for second base. Scutaro won the NLCS MVP and Bochy might want to reward him with an All Star selection. Scutaro's deserving, but Carpenter is having a superior season. Carpenter is also would be a versatile player for late innings if Bochy goes with three second baseman.

Shortstop

Leading Vote Getter: Troy Tulowitzki

Reserve Candidates: Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera, Ian Desmond, Brandon Crawford

Tulowitzki leads the voting, but will miss the game due to injury. Most likely, Segura will take his place as the starter. Cabrera leads the NL in stolen bases and would make sense to be the Padres rep for the game. If it isn't Cabrera, it would like be reliever Luke Gregerson. There is also a chance Crawford could make it since his manager is picking the team.

Third Baseman

Likely Starter: David Wright

Reserve Candidates: Pablo Sandoval, Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Zimmerman

Wright has gained the lead over Sandoval in the voting which makes sense for a couple of reasons. One, Wright is having a better year, and two, the game is in New York. Sandoval still might get selected by player vote or manager selection. Alvarez has hit 20 homers and has improved his average and defense. The Pirates also have the NL's best record right now, which could help his case.

Outfield

Likely Starters: Justin Upton, Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran

Reserve Candidates: Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Sterling Marte, Dominic Brown, Nate Schierholtz, Hunter Pence

There's a lot of deserving candidates, but probably only 4 spots for reserves. I think McCutchen makes it and Gomez probably makes it. Cuddyer is batting .344 and Cargo is having a big year, but I don't think both make it, probably only one of them. Choo has a .418 OBP, which is second in the NL, but might not get noticed because he has a .268 average. Brown and Schierholtz could make it as their teams lone rep. Schierholtz is a former Giant, now a Cub. There are also calls to put rookie phenom Yasiel Puig on the roster, but that could mean a guy like Gomez, Choo, or Brown get left off the roster. None of them have ever made a All Star game and Puig has only played 26 games. That's only 18 less than Harper, who will get voted in by the fans, but it's unfair to punish a guy who played a full season to put Puig on the roster. Puig will have his day someday soon.

Starting Pitching

Locks: Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, Clayton Kershaw

Top Candidates: Cliff Lee, Patrick Corbin, Jeff Locke, Jose Fernandez

On the Edge: Shelby Miller, Travis Wood, Mat Latos, Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner

A lot will be made out of the pitcher's who don't make the roster. There will certainly be some snubs, although spots will open up. Pitchers who start on the Sunday before the game are ineligible to pitch, thus needing a replacement. There is usually at least once pitcher who gets hurt before the game. Fernandez is the best candidate from the Marlins, so I think he makes it. Wood could also be the Cubs rep if Schierholtz isn't. Harvey is a lock to make it, and possibly even start the game. Other younger pitchers like Locke, Miller, and Corbin are less certain right now.

Relief Pitchers

Locks: Jason Grilli, Craig Kimbrel, Sergio Romo

Top Candidates: Edward Mujica, Aroldis Chapman, Steve Cishek, Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson, Trevor Rosenthal, Luke Gregerson, Jonathon Papelbon

I imagine that 5 relievers make the roster and I think Grilli, Kimbrel, and Romo are locks. That leaves 2(3 at the most) spots for everybody else. Cishek only makes it if Fernandez don't make it for the Marlins. Melancon has been the NL's most dominant setup man for the Pirates, so I think he's in. One more closer could make it, so Mujica has a shot.

Roster Guess

Lineup: Phillips, Wright, Votto, Goldschmidt, Beltran, Molina, Upton, Harper, Segura, Harvey(P)

Reserves: Posey, Craig, Carpenter, Scutaro, E Cabrera, Sandoval, Alvarez, McCutchen, Gomez, Cuddyer, Scheirholtz

Pitchers: Wainwright, Kershaw, Zimmermann, J Fernandez, Lee, Corbin, Locke, Melancon, Mujica, Romo, Kimbrel, Grilli

34th Man: D Brown, Puig, S Miller, Minor, C Gonzalez



American League

Catcher

Likely Starter: Joe Mauer

Reserve Candidates: Jason Castro, Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez

I think Jason Castro is the Astros most likely rep. If there is a third catcher it will be Cleveland's Santana or Kansas City's Perez.

First Baseman/DH

Likely Starters: Chris Davis, David Ortiz

Reserve Candidates: Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, James Loney, Mark Trumbo

I don't think both the Blue Jays Encarnacion or Lind goes to New York, but one of them likely will. Fielder will likely make it as a reserve either by player vote or manager's selection.

Second Baseman

Likely Starter: Robinson Cano

Reserve Candidates: Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Howie Kendrick

All three of these guys are having terrific seasons, but at least one of them will be disappointed Saturday. Kipnis has been the Indians best hitter and I think he gets on the roster this year.

Shortstop

Likely Starter: JJ Hardy

Reserve Candidates: Jhonny Peralta, Jed Lowrie

I would say Peralta has a better chance of making it since his manager is picking the roster. Both Peralta and Lowrie are pretty close on the numbers.

Third Baseman

Likely Starter: Miguel Cabrera

Reserve Candidates: Evan Longoria, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre

Third base is stacked in the AL with four worthy candidates as backups. I think Longoria will make it and there should be a third selection for this position. Machado has a lead leading 38 doubles and plays great defense. Donaldson has arguably been the A's best hitter this year.

Outfield

Likely Starters: Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista

Reserve Candidates: Alex Gordon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp, Alex Rios, Nelson Cruz

Bautista is in a tight battle for the final outfield spot with Nick Markakis and Torii Hunter. Markakis and Hunter are having fine seasons, but I don't think they make the team if they aren't voted in as starters.

Starting Pitching

Locks: Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez

Top Candidates: Chris Sale, Hisashi Iwakuma, Bartolo Colon, Derek Holland

On the Edge: James Shields, Justin Masterson, Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Moore, Chris Tillman, Ervin Santana

Scherzer looks like the likely starter since he is off to a 12-0 start. Colon looks like a solid pick as long as he doesn't get into any trouble with his Biogenesis connection. Shields has a losing record, but that's due to poor run support, not ineffectiveness. Shields stats are among the leagues best, but could get overlooked due to his record. Clay Buchholz will make the team, but might not be able to start since he's injured right now.

Relief Pitching

Locks: Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour

Top Candidates: Greg Holland, Ernesti Freiri, Glen Perkins, Jesse Crain, Joaquin Benoit, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Brett Cecil

Rivera is in his final season and is All Star worthy on performance alone. He will most certainly be honored with his 13th All Star selection. The Rangers bullpen has been dominant this year, and setup men Scheppers and Ross will get consideration for the team.

Roster Guess

Lineup: Trout, Cano, Cabrera, Davis, Ortiz, Bautista, Jones, Mauer, Hardy, Scherzer(P)

Reserves: J Castro, Fielder, Encarnacion, Pedroia, Kipnis, Peralta, Longoria, Machado, Gordon, Ellsbury, Cruz

Pitchers: Hernandez, Darvish, Sale, Colon, Masterson, Iwakuma, Kuroda, Scheppers, Ross, Nathan, Balfour, Rivera

34th Man: Crisp, Donaldson, Lind, Beltre, Kendrick



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