I thought I would take a moment away from anguishing over the Reds longest losing streak in 2 years and examine the options available on the 2012 All-Star Team ballot. I will not reveal my vote but I will give 3 options at each position. Lets start with the NL:First Base: This is typically one of the most competitive positions in all of baseball. Five of the last six National League MVPs play at this position. Albert Pujols has won 3 times, Ryan Howard won in 2006 and of course our own Joey Votto last year. This year the leading contestants will sound familiar. Votto leads the pack in BA (.335), Runs (34), Slugging Pct. (.549) , Walks (37) and SB (4), Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard are tied with 35 RBIs and 10 HRs. These three represent the cream of this crop to date.
Second Base: When selecting your NL 2nd basemen you have to give weight to a variety of stats. Brandon Phillips leads 2nd basement in BA (.317), Runs (29), Rickie Weeks leads in HR (7) and Slugging Pct. (.479), Neil Walker in RBIs (30), and Orlando Hudson leads with 10 SB. Interestingly the 2nd baseman with the most walks is Jonathan Herrera who isn’t on the ballot. Phillips, Walker and Weeks are the best of this crew.
Shortstop: Arguably the weakest position offensively this year also lacks front runners. Perennial favorites Jimmy Rollins and Hanley Ramirez are having off years. Leaders are Starlin Castro in BA(.323), Jose Reyes for Runs (28) and SB (17), Troy Tulowitzki leads in HR (11), Slugging Pct. (.517) and is tied with Steven Drew for the RBI lead (27). Rollins does lead all SSs with 19 Walks. I would suggest the difficult choice here is between Drew, Reyes, and Tulowitzki
Third Base: This position more resembles a hospital ward than a group of elite baseball players. Wright, Freese, Rolen, Zimmerman, Sandoval, and Alvarez are on the DL currently. Leaders at 3rd include Placido Polanco BA (.335), Runs (23), Ryan Roberts leads in HR (7) and Slugging Pct. (.487) for Arizona. He is not on the ballot but has stepped in to replace Melvin Mora who is on extended Bereavement Leave in the Dominican Republic. Chipper Jones has 27 RBIs and Chase Headley has 27 Walks. David Wright has the most SBs at 9 but a fractured spine will keep him on the sidelines. This is a tough position but I would suggest the front runners should be Polanco, Jones or possibly even a write in vote for Roberts.
Catcher: Yadier Molina and Ramon Hernandez lead this position with a .333 BA. Hernandez also has a .581 Slugging Pct. though not enough ABs to qualify as a league leader. Miguel Montero leads in Runs (20). Rod Barajas leads in HR (7). Chris Ianetta has the most walks (25). Buster Posey has 3 SBs to lead all catchers in category. I suggest 5 players for this position deserve consideration and they are Molina, Posey, Montero, Brian McCann and Jonathan Lucroy. Hernandez really doesn’t deserve consideration due to the platoon situation he is in with Ryan Hanigan.
Outfield: Here are the leaders among outfielders: BA-Matt Holliday (.349), Runs – Drew Stubbs, Ryan Braun, and Colby Rasmus (33), HR – Braun (12), Slugging Pct. – Lance Berkman (.662), Walks – Rasmus (29), SB – Michael Bourn (17)
CF: Top 3 choices are Matt Kemp, Rasmus, and Stubbs
LF: Best choices are Braun, Holliday, and Carlos Gonzalez
Tomorrow I will take a similar look at the American League. Feel free to offer up any differing opinions. Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz.