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Yesterday we gave you starters for the National League in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. Today, it’s the American League’s turn.
Joe Mauer (Catcher): Mauer doesn’t have the power numbers of some guys like J.P. Arencibia, but his .332 average and 24 doubles lead all catchers, and his eight home runs and 25 RBI are pretty respectable in their own right. A.J. Pierzynski could have been a candidate here, but Mauer has walked five times as much as he has. And while Matt Wieters has been a strong power hitter, his .228 batting average scares me off.
Chris Davis (1B): The Orioles’ first baseman is about as easy a pick for this team as you can get. Davis isn’t only an MVP candidate, but he’s a reasonable threat to win the Triple Crown. His 28 home runs lead the league and he ranks second in RBI (72) and batting average (.333) behind Miguel Cabrera.
Robinson Cano (2B): Lots of different ways you can go here. There’s Dustin Pedroia who has shown little power but is tied for the lead in RBI among second basemen and is second in batting average. There’s Howie Kendrick who leads second basemen with a .321 average and is third with eight home runs. There’s the Indians’ Jason Kipnis who’s second in home runs with ten and in the top ten in several other categories. But I’ll take Cano by a nose just because he’s tied with Pedroia for the lead at the position in RBI, and his 16 home runs are far and away the most of second baseman in the league.
J.J. Hardy (SS): Hardy’s a pretty easy call here as the Orioles’ shortstop leads all players at the position in home runs (15) and RBI (45). Hardy also is having a solid year with the glove, as his .981 fielding percentage is fourth among shortstops. And while his batting average is a long way off from leader Jhonny Peralta, at .264, it’s still good enough for fourth at the position.
Miguel Cabrera (3B): As is the case with Davis, Cabrera’s selection is one of the easiest to make. He’s a contender for another MVP award and his second straight Triple Crown. Cabrera is second to only Davis in home runs with 21 and his 77 RBI and .368 batting average lead the league.
Nelson Cruz (OF): Cruz leads all outfielders with 19 home runs and 55 RBI and his .268 batting average is respectable. He also ranks second behind only Mike Trout in slugging percentage and OPS. Cruz could walk a bit more, but is having a banner year.
Mike Trout (OF): Trout’s home runs are a little off from his 2012 pace but he still deserves to be here. His .307 batting average is tops for AL outfielders and his 48 RBI are third. Trout does more than just hit, though – he’s also third in stolen bases with 19 and has committed only two errors in the field this season.
Adam Jones (OF): Baltimore’s Jones is quietly having a good season, tied for the lead with 55 RBI and tied for fourth with 15 home runs among outfielders. His .301 batting average is also third and makes him a more attractive candidate than Jose Bautista and Raul Ibanez (both stuck at under .250). I’m not a fan of his mere eight walks, but he also leads all outfielders in hits and doubles, so yeah, I’ll overlook that.
Clay Buchholz (P): Seattle Mariners teammates Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are both worthy candidates to start, but Buchholz has been better. He’s 9-0 on the year and leads the league by a sizable margin in ERA (1.71 – a full ½ run better than the second place Iwakuma). Buchholz is getting guys to whiff, too, striking out nearly a batter an inning. Strikeout artists Yu Darvish and Max Scherzer will likely keep him from winning a Triple Crown, but Buchholz has been incredible nonetheless.
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