Open Thread: AL All-Star Roster - Bartolo Colon Lone A's Representative

I know I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, Superman, then please help me make the All-Star team! - USA TODAY Sports

If we argue loudly enough about who should make the All-Star team, Jim Leyland might hear us. He's really old, though, so we have to be LOUD.

UPDATE by baseballgirl: The A's lone selection to the All-Star team is Bartolo Colon. So much for thinking that the second-best record in the American League would help people notice A's players, huh?

A couple weeks ago, we got the conversation started regarding which A's players might make this year's All-Star team. Today at 3:30pm, we will find out who made it.

That leaves us about four hours to debate the topic, then! To get things started, I have made my own AL roster. I started with the players who are expected to be voted in - the only close race was for 3rd outfielder, and I assumed that the vastly superior Jose Bautista would maintain his slim lead over the not-at-all-qualified-in-any-way Nick Markakis, who is simply the beneficiary of Baltimore ballot-stuffers. Then, I filled in the rest of the 33-player squad. Note that I didn't have to try at all to fit in a representative from every team, so there is no weird pick that makes you go, "Oh, well the Twins needed someone."

Here is the roster that I would construct if I were in charge. Let's see how badly Leyland and the players can screw it up!

Starters (chosen by fans):

C - Joe Mauer, Min
1B - Chris Davis, Bal
2B - Robinson Cano, NYY
SS - J.J. Hardy, Bal
3B - Miguel Cabrera, Det
LF - Mike Trout, LAA
CF - Adam Jones, Bal
RF - Jose Bautista, Tor
DH - David Ortiz, Bos

Note that the fans actually did a great job this year. I believe that those really are the best players at every single position except for center field, where I would have taken Jacoby Ellsbury instead of Jones. But hey, Jones won a Gold Glove last year despite absurdly negative defensive metrics (-16 Defensive Runs Saved), so maybe he just has a little extra tWtW that doesn't show up in the numbers.

Reserves:

C - Carlos Santana, Cle
C - Jason Castro, Hou
1B - Edwin Encarnacion, Tor
2B - Dustin Pedroia, Bos
SS - Jhonny Peralta, Det
SS - Manny Machado, Bal
3B - Evan Longoria, TBR
3B - Josh Donaldson, Oak
OF - Jacoby Ellsbury, Bos
OF - Alex Gordon, KC
OF - Alex Rios, Chi
OF - Mark Trumbo, LAA

Major Snub - Jason Kipnis, Cle

Let's take a quick look through. Along with Mauer, Santana and Castro pretty clearly form the upper tier of AL catchers this year. Plus, Castro will be Houston's only rep, so he's a lock on my roster. First base is actually a pretty weak position this year; Prince Fielder really doesn't have the numbers, and Mark Trumbo made my roster as an outfielder, so that leaves Encarnacion and his 23 homers. At second base, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis are both having fantastic seasons. Kipnis is hitting a bit better, but Pedroia is fielding a bit better and has more "star power" as a former MVP who plays in Boston. He also has a slight edge in bWAR (they are tied in fWAR). I agonized over this for awhile, but went with Pedroia. It kills me that I can't find a place for Kipnis on this roster, and I even considered eliminating the 7th outfield spot just to fit him in.

I got a little creative at shortstop. That's another weak position this year, and with J.J. Hardy and Jhonny Peralta already aboard, there wasn't much else to choose from. Sure, I could have rolled with Jed Lowrie and his 1.7 fWAR, but instead I decided to clear up the logjam of 4-win third basemen by moving Manny Machado back to his natural position of shortstop. That left room for both Evan Longoria and Josh Donaldson at third base, which is the best way to fit the best players onto the roster.

The outfield was tough to fill in. Last year, there were too many awesome candidates; this year, the field seemed weak. Trout and Bautista are the two best outfielders in the league, but the fans took care of them. Jacoby Ellsbury was an easy pick, with his .302 average, great defense, and 34 stolen bases (in 37 attempts). I initially picked Alex Gordon as KC's lone rep, but ended up picking a pitcher from the Royals as well. Still, Gordon made the cut thanks to solid hitting a good defense. Alex Rios made it as another all-around performer (power, speed, defense, named Alex), and Mark Trumbo rounded out the group by beating out Nelson Cruz as my "power bat off the bench." Trumbo has similar numbers to Cruz despite playing in a much tougher park, he's (surprisingly) playing better defense, and he isn't embroiled in a PED scandal. Another outfield snub was Brett Gardner, but I figured that he and Ellsbury are basically the same player and Ellsbury is way better this year.

I didn't pick a second DH, because that just seems like a stupid thing to do and there were plenty of deserving all-around players. Besides, the pick would have been Adam Dunn, and he doesn't belong in the All-Star Game this year.

Pitchers

SP - Max Scherzer, Det (starter)
SP - Bartolo Colon, Oak
SP - Yu Darvish, Tex
SP - Felix Hernandez, Sea
SP - Hisashi Iwakuma, Sea
SP - Chris Sale, Chi
SP - Justin Verlander, Det

RP - Grant Balfour, Oak
RP - Jesse Crain, Chi
RP - Greg Holland, KC
RP - Joe Nathan, Tex
RP - Mariano Rivera, NYY

Major Snubs - Clay Buckholz, Bos; Jim Johnson, Bal

Scherzer is my starter. Even leaving aside his 13-0 record, he's still the best pitcher in the AL this year and is leading the league in fWAR. Felix and Darvish need no explanation, nor does Verlander or Sale. I stuck with Hisashi Iwakuma despite his recent struggles (5.54 ERA in last four starts), and chose Bartolo Colon because his ERA is pretty and I hate walks. I snubbed Anibal Sanchez and Clay Buckholz because neither has even thrown 90 innings yet, and that just doesn't cut it. I took Iwakuma and Colon over Derek Holland, Justin Masterson, James Shields, and Doug Fister, mostly because of ERA and strong K/BB rates.

The bullpen was actually quite easy. Rivera is the lock of all locks, Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour are easy picks, and I chose Jesse Crain as the token middle reliever (even though Chicago didn't end up needing a rep). With the final spot, I went with Greg Holland over Jim Johnson. This probably won't happen in real life, unless Gordon gets snubbed and Holland is needed as KC's lone rep. Johnson does lead the league in saves (29), but he also leads in blown saves (6) and has a 4.02 ERA. He is not a good closer this year, but rather a decent pitcher who has gotten the most save opportunities in the league. Holland dominates him in save percentage (90.4% to 82.9%) and ERA (1.97 to 4.02) and is a more deserving pitcher. Note that Glen Perkins is almost identical to Holland in every important stat, but I figured that Minnesota is guaranteed to have Mauer whereas KC might need Holland as a rep depending on how the outfield shakes out. Also note that Johnson will almost certainly make it in real life because SAVES!

All-Star Final Vote

The 34th spot on the roster is voted on by the fans. Here is my ideal ballot, based on the snubs from my roster:

Jason Kipnis, Cle
Nelson Cruz, Tex
Clay Buckholz, Bos
Anibal Sanchez, Det
Jim Johnson, Bal

So, there is my theoretical roster. How would yours differ? Which A's do you think will/should make it? We've got four hours to discuss! (I didn't touch the NL roster here because it doesn't involve the A's, but discuss that as well if you wish.)

This will be my last post for a whole week. I'm taking a group of Boy Scouts up to summer camp at Camp Wolfeboro, so I'll be hanging out in the mountains (awesome) with no internet or phone connection (awesome) but also no baseball (lame). Oh, mixed blessings. Have a great week everyone, and I'll be back in time for the All-Star Game!

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