Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss whether the fans’ selections for the National League All-Star team were right and who should be starting the All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10.
Buster Posey was not the right choice for the All-Star team. Phillies backstop Carlos Ruiz is having a sensational season, hitting .357 with 13 home runs, 46 RBI and a surprising three stolen bases. He has definitely been the best catcher in baseball this season.
The fans got this one right by selecting Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is probably the MVP of the first half of the season. He’s batting .350 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI.
Brandon Phillips of the Reds should be starting rather than Dan Uggla. Phillips has a .279 average, 10 home runs and 47 RBI. He is also a good defensive player, which Uggla is not.
The fans made the wrong choice by selecting Pablo Sandoval, who has missed plenty of time this season due to injury. David Wright of the Mets should have been the pick, as he has been an MVP candidate so far this year with a .350 average, 10 home runs, 55 RBI and eight stolen bases.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro should be starting in place of Rafael Furcal. Castro is batting .291 with six home runs, 40 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Despite those numbers, he can be frustrating because he makes a lot of boneheaded plays but he is young and will hopefully grow out of that.
Not one of the three outfielders chosen by the fans was the right pick. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies should be starting instead of Melky Cabrera. Gonzalez is batting .340 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI and 10 stolen bases, though he is helped out by playing at Coors Field.
Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun should have been selected over Matt Kemp. Braun is once again putting up MVP numbers with a .309 average, 23 home runs, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
Finally, Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen should have been chosen rather than Carlos Beltran. McCutchen is batting .360 with 16 home runs, 54 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Beltran would have been a good selection if the National League had a designated hitter. He has a .304 average, 20 home runs, 63 RBI and eight stolen bases this season.
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Second to None!
The Best: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
After breaking out last season with 29 home runs, 112 runs, and 11 steals many baseball fans expected Rickie Weeks to take a small step back this season. I’m not really sure why expectations were so low.
The second overall pick of the 2003 draft is finally healthy and at 28 years old he should be in his prime. Plus, he is surrounded by sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart, all who guarantee that Weeks will rack up plenty of runs. Weeks has managed to cut down on his strikeouts this season, while improving his batting average to .286. Considering the drastic difference in expectations, Weeks gets the edge as the best second baseman over Yankees star Robinson Cano.
The Surprise: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Coming into the season, Danny Espinosa had been called the poor man’s version of Dan Uggla. While the expectations have been met with Espinosa blasting 15 home runs despite just a .238 average, it turns out that Espinosa has actually outperformed Uggla.
At 24 years old, Espinosa is a building block for the Nationals. The 2008 third round pick out of Long Beach State has also impressed with a keen ability to draw walks. Plus, something that he offers that Uggla never has is his speed on the base paths. Pretty soon, baseball fans will have to compare Espinosa to Rangers star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The Bust: Dan Uggla, Braves
After belting 33 home runs with 105 RBI and a .287 last season, Dan Uggla was sought by several teams and ended up joining his long-time rival Atlanta Braves. As it turns out, Uggla is not done punishing the Braves. This time the damage is not a result of his power, but instead an unsuspecting power outage.
Sure, Uggla does have 12 home runs, which still ranks amongst the top second basemen. The problem is that his .178 average is more than 100 points off last year’s batting clip, as his home runs make up 22% of his total hits. There have been no signs of a let-up either, as Uggla hit just .179 in June.
The 2nd Half Sleeper: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Riding a nine-game hit streak, it looks like Howie Kendrick is on the verge of a bounce back season. After hitting just .279 last season, his average is up to .305 plus he has shown signs of power and speed. The good news is that Angels fans can expect even better for the second half of the season.
Kendrick missed some time in the first half due to a injury that forced him out of the lineup for two weeks and when he did return, Kendrick was hitless in his first ten at bats. Now that he is healthy, Kendrick should surpass his first half production culminating in what could be his best season so far.