With Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game just around the corner, here’s a look at my picks for the starters for the National League. Check back tomorrow for my American League roster.
Yadier Molina (Catcher): Molina is a pretty simple pick. The Cardinals’ backstop doesn’t have a ton of power, but his .353 batting average leads the league. His 95 hits are good for second in the National League and striking out only 27 times, Molina is a tough out. He also leads all catchers in most offensive categories including runs, hits, doubles and is second in RBI with 41. If that weren’t enough, he’s one of the better defensive catchers in the game. With only three errors this season, he could land his sixth straight Gold Glove.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B): The Diamondbacks’ Goldschmidt is one of those guys that has kind of come out of nowhere. He leads the league in RBI with 65 and is second in home runs with 19. Batting .306, Goldschmidt has proven he’s more than just a power hitter. Joey Votto is the household name here, but Goldschmidt is having the better year.
Matt Carpenter (2B): This one’s a tough call but I’ll go with another Cardinal here over Brandon Phillips. Phillips has the flashy offensive numbers with 11 home runs and 60 RBI, but Carpenter bats more than .050 points higher and is among the league leaders, hitting .322 on the season. And despite having fewer home runs, he has a significantly higher slugging percentage than Phillips based on his 21 doubles – tops among all second basemen in the NL. Defensively, Carpenter also has half as many errors (3) as Phillips.
Troy Tulowitzki (SS): The Rockies’ Tulowitzki is another easy call. He leads all shortstops in home runs, RBI, and batting average. He’s also in the top five in hits, doubles, runs, and walks. Case closed.
David Wright (3B): A solid case could be made for the Pirates’ surging star, Pedro Alvarez, but I’ll take Wright here. The Mets’ mainstay at third base doesn’t have the power numbers that Alvarez has, but his 12 home runs and 41 RBI are more than respectable – second among third basemen, in fact. The big difference for me is that Wright is batting .309 to Alvarez’ .237. I’m all for letting Alvarez make the team this year, but I’ve got a hard time giving a player a start when he’s batting below .250.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF): Gonzalez leads the league with 21 home runs and despite having the benefit of the air in Colorado, still deserves to be a starter. He’s batting an even .300 and his WAR of 4.1 means he’s extremely valuable to the Rockies. He also has 13 stolen bases this year and has been a do-it-all kind of guy for Colorado.
Carlos Beltran (OF): Beltran is a legitimate MVP candidate and the Cardinals’ slugger is having an amazing year. His 17 home runs are putting him on a pace for one of the highest totals in his career and other than that category, Beltran also ranks in the top ten among outfielders in hits, runs batted in, and batting average.
Carlos Gomez (OF): Really, I’m doing this just to get an outfield full of Carlos’ – who wouldn’t want to see that, after all? But Gomez is still deserving. Other guys up for consideration are the Phillies’ Domonic Brown and Dodgers’ phenom Yasiel Puig, but Gomez gets my vote. Puig is off to an amazing start, but just hasn’t played enough games. Putting him on the team is fine by me, but he doesn’t need to start. Brown’s a curious case. He’s second among outfielders with 19 home runs and his 50 RBI rank third, but Gomez just bests him in so many categories including runs, hits, doubles, and triples. His .313 batting average is also significantly better than Brown’s .276 and Gomez’ 4.9 WAR isn’t just the best among National League outfielders, it’s the best of anyone in the majors.
Matt Harvey (P): You can make any number of cases for guys like Jordan Zimmerman, Adam Wainwright, or even Pirates rookie Jeff Locke, who leads the league in ERA. But Harvey gets the nod based on his 7-1 record, 2.05 ERA (2nd in the NL), and his league leading 121 strikeouts. And among guys who have pitched 100 innings, he’s the only one averaging better than a strikeout an inning.
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