The Midsummer Classic is less than one month away! There are few events more exciting in the MLB season than the All-Star Game, which will take place in San Diego this year on July 12.
There is a science to selecting players for the All-Star team, and finding out just who made the cut is always an exciting moment. The teams are made up of 34 players total, including a designated hitter. Each team must have at least one representative at the All-Star Game, and managers typically like to have lots of depth at key positions like catcher, outfielder, the middle infield, and on the mound.
In the second part of a two-part series, let’s take a look at who could be representing the Senior Circuit, the National League, at the Midsummer Classic.
Read Part 1 – The American League: here!
Catcher (3): Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy
Arguably the three finest catchers in all of the Major Leagues, Molina, Posey, and Lucroy are a dandy of a trio for NL manager Terry Collins. Molina is the projected starter with Posey narrowly behind in the voting.
Interestingly, Lucroy has been the best statistically out of all of them, but may undeservedly end up riding the pine in the game.
First Basemen (3): Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Belt
This slugging trio of NL first basemen leads the NL in every major category. Rizzo is likely to be the voted-in starter by the fans; his 14 home runs and 47 RBI speak for themselves.
Goldschmidt has a ridiculous .428 OBP and a .925 OPS in addition to his fine glove work and baserunning, and Belt has hit .300 with power for the Giants. I’d like to fit hometown first baseman Wil Myers onto the roster, but this team may be too loaded for Myers to make it.
Second Basemen (2): Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy
Zobrist seems like a lock to start thanks to his supportive Chicago fan base, but he is more than deserving. Zobrist has hit .317, popped 8 dingers, and has accumulated an OPS of .919.
However, Daniel Murphy of the Nationals has been even better. He is currently batting an eye-popping .367 with an OPS of 1.012, continuing his stellar postseason run. Another name to keep an eye on is D.J. LeMahieu from Colorado as a dark horse option.
Third Basemen (3): Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter
You really cannot go wrong with this batch of third basemen, but ironically Bryant (whose stats are the worst) will likely get the starting nod. Still, he has improved his numbers from last year, totaling 15 homers and an .882 OPS thus far.
Arenado and Carpenter have simply raked too much not to be on the roster. While Arenado gets a boost from the thin Coors Field air, the truth is that his homers would be gone at any park. Carpenter, who has played second base as well, is having a career year.
Shortstop (3): Trevor Story, Aledmys Diaz, Corey Seager
Our first surprise comes at shortstop, where current starter Addison Russell is not listed on the team. While Cubs fans have voted hard for Russell, he does not deserve to be on the All-Star team in the slightest, and I hope that the fans and the MLB realize this.
In his stead, rookies Story, Diaz, and Seager have my votes. Story burst onto the scene with a hot April, Seager has the best numbers, and Diaz may be the most complete. These young shortstops are more than worthy of going to San Diego.
Outfield (7): Dexter Fowler, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes, Gregory Polanco, Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall, Ryan Braun
Fowler may appear to be the result of stuffing the ballot box at first glance, but upon examining his numbers (.289 AVG, .397 OBP, .884 OPS), he is a worthy pick .Beside him, Harper and Cespedes have been their usual slugging selves; they lead the NL in OPS.
Third in OPS and somewhat flying under the radar is Gregory Polanco from Pittsburgh, who has finally come into his own. Ozuna has similarly figured things out for the Marlins, while Duvall has come out of nowhere to lead the NL in home runs with 18. Finally, Braun is having his best season since his controversial MVP 2012 campaign; he is All-Star Game ready.
Pitchers (13): Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Jose Fernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Aaron Nola, Julio Teheran, Drew Pomeranz, Fernando Rodney, Mark Melancon
The 2016 NL All-Star team could have some of the best pitching on the planet together. Kershaw has been a touch better than Arrieta this year, but we really are splitting hairs between these two aces. Expect them to pitch the first two innings.
Bumgarner, Lester, and Syndergaard all have ERAs less than or equal to 2.00, and have combined to go 21-6. Cueto has been outstanding in his debut season in San Francisco, Fernandez has bounced back from Tommy John Surgery better than ever before, Strasburg is 10-0, and Aaron Nola has been a revelation in his rookie year for the Phillies.
The two hometown picks from the Padres are quite deserving in Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Rodney. Pomeranz came from the Athletics’ bullpen to a 2.44 ERA and .184 AVG against for the Padres, and the enigmatic Rodney somehow has not allowed an earned run all year. Mark Melancon, my other reliever, has only blown one save all year.