Picking the 2015 National League All-Stars by Dave Cameron June 29, 2015 We’re two weeks away from the 2015 All-Star Game, and fan voting ends this Thursday, so I figure it’s probably about time to put my ballot together. When it comes to picking players, I lean very heavily towards in-season performance, as I tend towards the camp that sees the game as a reward for the players more than a showcase for the fans. It is both, of course, and trying to serve both masters can make for some tricky decisions, but I’d rather reward a deserving player for a big first half than simply invite the same players every year based on their legacy. I know others see it differently, and that’s fine; I personally just find it more interesting to recognize performance than name-value. In putting this together, I broke the 34 roster spots into 21 position players and 13 pitchers, and I also held to the rule that every team had to be represented. Injured players were not considered, so while Giancarlo Stanton will almost certainly be picked and then be replaced, I didn’t bother with that formality. And while the only stat listed is a player’s WAR, it’s just there for reference; I didn’t select the players based solely on their WAR totals. Oh, and for pitchers, the WAR listed is a 50/50 blend of FIP-based and RA9-based WAR. Okay, on to the team. We’ll go position by position, with the starter listed first. Catcher Buster Posey, San Francisco: +2.8 WAR Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles: +1.7 WAR Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh: +1.8 WAR Posey as the starting catcher is a no-brainer, as he’s one of the game’s truly elite players and he’s easily having the best year of any player at the position. Grandal and Cervelli are both having excellent years as well, and both are likely more valuable than the numbers here suggest given their framing skills, but neither one is in Posey’s class. If you don’t care about defense, you could make an argument for Derek Norris, but I do, so I won’t. First Base Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona: +4.3 WAR Anthony Rizzo, Chicago: +3.3 WAR Joey Votto, Cincinnati: +2.5 WAR Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles: +2.5 WAR Goldschmidt has turned into an absolute monster, and has put himself in the conversation for the best-hitter-in-baseball title. While Rizzo is also having an excellent year, Goldschmidt’s excellence earns him the starting job at first base, but Rizzo can start at DH so they can both be in the line-up. Votto and Gonzalez are also both having very good seasons, and have earned their way to the game as well. Second Base Joe Panik, San Francisco, +3.0 WAR Dee Gordon, Miami, +2.9 WAR Kolten Wong, St. Louis, +2.4 WAR Panik has maximized his contact-and-gap-power skillset, turning himself into a very good player despite a complete lack of flash. Gordon is still living off a very high BABIP, but while he won’t keep this up, his performance to date makes him a legitimate choice for the team. Wong is one of the last guys in, but is definitely having an All-Star worthy season. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, San Francisco: +2.9 WAR Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis: +1.9 WAR Both the Giants and Cardinals send their double-play combinations, but the Giants get the starters at both spots, with Crawford looking like he might be turning into a legitimate two-way star. Peralta just keeps hitting and can still hold his own at the position, which allows him to edge out Andrelton Simmons for me, though there would be no shame in taking the game’s premier defender if you wanted to go that direction. Third Base Todd Frazier, Cincinnati: +4.4 WAR Nolan Arenado, Colorado: +3.4 WAR Justin Turner, Los Angeles: +3.0 WAR The most crowded spot in the NL. While Arenado is having an amazing year in his own right, Frazier has been just a bit better, posting very similar offensive numbers while playing in a park that is just a little less of a nightmare for pitchers. Both are having top-shelf seasons, though, as is Turner, who has been one of the NL’s best players despite not playing everyday. He edges out Matt Carpenter for the last 3B spot because of his versatility, as he can slide over to shortstop if need be, but I do wish I had room for Carpenter on the team. Outfield Bryce Harper, Washington: +4.9 WAR Joc Pederson, Los Angeles: +3.5 WAR Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh: +2.7 WAR A.J. Pollock, Arizona: +3.0 WAR Kris Bryant, Chicago: +2.8 WAR Justin Upton, San Diego: +2.1 WAR Harper is the easiest pick of the whole thing, as he’s pretty clearly been the league’s best player this season. Pederson earns a starting job with a monster first half, and McCutchen gets to play center field between them based on his usual excellence. You could make a case for Pollock starting over McCutchen, but it’s close enough that I’ll defer to the guy with a longer track record. I’m cheating a bit by putting Bryant here, given that he’s only played a few games in the outfield, but 3B is overcrowded and the OF crop was weak after Stanton’s injury, so I’ll take Bryant over Charlie Blackmon or Curtis Granderson. Upton is the Padres representative, so while he’s played well enough to be here, he also can’t easily be replaced given the lack of great alternative candidates in San Diego. Starting Pitcher Max Scherzer, Washington: +4.3 WAR Zack Greinke, Los Angeles: +3.7 WAR Jacob deGrom, New York: +3.0 WAR A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh: +2.9 WAR Shelby Miller, Atlanta: +2.6 WAR Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh: +2.4 WAR Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco: +2.4 WAR Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles: +2.2 WAR Cole Hamels, Philadelphia: +1.9 WAR There are simply too many good pitchers in the NL, and unless you don’t take any relievers, you have to snub several good candidates. Hamels and Miller are both their sole team representative, so while both are having good years, they also get extra protection due to the one-player-per-team rule. You could certainly make a strong case for a guy like Jake Arrieta, Michael Wacha, or Johnny Cueto, but with only nine spots for starting pitchers, these are my nine. Outside of the top half of the list, you could probably swap in a bunch of new names and have just as good of a case. Relief Pitcher Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis: +1.6 WAR Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati: +1.2 WAR Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles: +1.2 WAR Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee: +0.8 WAR Rosenthal, Chapman, and Jansen are have excellent 2015 numbers and historically strong resumes, so they each edge out A.J. Ramos, who is probably deserving based solely on first half performance. You could make a case for Jeurys Familia as well, as he and Ramos are both more deserving than K-Rod, but the Brewers need a representative, and this is the easiest way to get them one. Sorry guys. With those picks, we get the following starting line-up: 1. Joc Pederson, LF 2. Andrew McCutchen, CF 3. Bryce Harper, RF 4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B 5. Anthony Rizzo, DH 6. Buster Posey, C 7. Todd Frazier, 3B 8. Brandon Crawford, SS 9. Joe Panik, 2B Even without Giancarlo Stanton, that’s a pretty good team, and you could do a lot worse than having Kris Bryant, Joey Votto, and Nolen Arenado hanging around as backups. And given how Max Scherzer is pitching this year, they might only need to score one run to win the game anyways.