Picking the All-Stars: NL Edition

Yesterday, we tackled the American League. Today, we do the NL. If you read the intro to yesterday’s post, you can just skip on down to the picks, as the next few paragraphs are the same as they were in the AL post. If you didn’t read that post, keep reading.

The All-Star Game isn’t for another 35 days, but with the voting in full swing and enough of the season under our belts, I figure it’s time to weigh in on how I’d fill out the roster if I were Grand Poobah and had the final say on all 34 players. I will note up front that I believe the All-Star Game is an annual affair, and we shouldn’t simply have the same collection of players every year just because those are the “true stars”. The All-Star Game is best when it serves as both a platform for the game’s greatest players and recognition for those who have earned their way in. I will not be putting players on the roster who have not performed well in 2013, even if they are bonafide stars.

As a reminder, the rosters now comprise 34 players, which I’ll be splitting as 21 position players and 13 pitchers, as that has been the final tally for the game most of the last few years. And, yes, we’re honoring the rule requiring every team to be represented. I’ll list each player by the tier of how they got selected, then put the final roster down below. On to the picks.

The Game Would Be A Farce Without Them

These players are the epitome of All-Stars; great players having great seasons. I imagine there will be little disagreement about any of these 14 selections. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable case for excluding any of these players, assuming they stay healthy for the next few weeks anyway.

Troy Tulowitzki, COL, SS: +4.0 WAR
Joey Votto, CIN, 1B: +3.0 WAR
Carlos Gonzalez, COL, OF: +3.0 WAR
Yadier Molina, STL, C: +2.6 WAR
Andrew McCutchen, PIT, OF: +2.5 WAR
David Wright, NYM, 3B: +2.5 WAR
Buster Posey, SFG, C: +2.1 WAR
Brandon Phillips, CIN, 2B: +2.0 WAR
Ryan Braun, MIL, OF: +1.8 WAR

Adam Wainwright, STL, SP: +3.8 WAR
Cliff Lee, PHI, SP: +2.8 WAR
Clayton Kershaw, LAD, SP: +2.8 WAR
Jordan Zimmermann, WAS, SP: +2.2 WAR
Craig Kimbrel, ATL, RP: +0.6 WAR

They’ve Earned It

You wouldn’t have necessarily pegged these guys as All-Stars headed into the season, but their 2013 performance has been so stellar that they have to be there. You might have a different line for how great a performance needs to be to overcome a lack of a track record, but these nine players should clear most people’s bar and get in based on their performance to date.

Carlos Gomez, MIL, OF: +3.9 WAR
Matt Carpenter, STL, 2B/3B: +3.4 WAR
Everth Cabrera, SD, SS: +3.2 WAR
Jean Segura, MIL, SS: +2.9 WAR
Paul Goldschmidt, ARI, 1B: +2.8 WAR
Dexter Fowler, COL, OF: +2.5 WAR
Shin-Soo Choo, CIN, OF: +2.2 WAR

Matt Harvey, NYM, SP: +3.0 WAR
Shelby Miller, STL, SP: +2.3 WAR

The Team Representative

These guys are mostly worthy candidates anyway, but they are also the best choice to represent the two franchises that did not have a player listed above.

Jeff Samardzija, CHC, SP: +2.0 WAR
Jose Fernandez, MIA, SP: +1.0 WAR

The Reserves

With 16 hitters and nine pitchers already on the roster, that leaves us nine spots to fill, so it’s time to start looking at where the holes are. We’ve already covered most of the spots on the field with the position players above, but because of the DH, we probably need to take an extra bat oriented player and then fill out the roster with deserving players. Here are the nine guys who both fit the All-Star criteria and fill the current openings.

Russell Martin, PIT, C: +2.0 WAR
Marco Scutaro, SFG, 2B: +2.0 WAR
Evan Gattis, ATL, C/OF: +1.9 WAR
Jedd Gyorko, SD, 2B/3B: +1.8 WAR
Bryce Harper, WAS, OF: +1.7 WAR

Pat Corbin, ARI, SP: +1.9 WAR
Jason Grilli, PIT, RP: +1.7 WAR
Mark Melancon, PIT, RP: +1.0 WAR
Aroldis Chapman, CIN, RP: +0.8 WAR

The Final Roster

That leaves us with these 34 players. The starters are listed first and are in bold, with the reserves afterwards. Because I know it’s going to come up, Carpenter is listed as the backup third baseman to Wright because there are no other viable All-Star third baseman in the NL this year, and so I took extra second baseman and shifted Carpenter back to third. While he probably has earned a starting spot based on his play, there’s no shame in backing up Wright, and if he started at second base, he’d have to play the whole game. So, Phillips gets the start at second and Carpenter is Wright’s reserve.

Name Team Position PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
Yadier Molina Cardinals C 246 0.351 0.390 0.487 0.378 145 1.1 -1.3 2.6
Buster Posey Giants C 240 0.297 0.375 0.493 0.371 142 -1.6 -0.6 2.1
Russell Martin Pirates C 198 0.251 0.338 0.434 0.340 119 4.4 0.4 2.0
Joey Votto Reds 1B 298 0.328 0.446 0.520 0.413 165 0.8 1.7 3.0
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B 276 0.313 0.389 0.571 0.407 157 3.6 1.1 2.8
Brandon Phillips Reds 2B 265 0.292 0.345 0.475 0.350 121 3.9 -0.2 2.0
Marco Scutaro Giants 2B 258 0.332 0.388 0.444 0.365 137 -1.1 0.3 2.0
Jedd Gyorko Padres 2B 255 0.284 0.341 0.461 0.347 128 -0.8 0.6 1.8
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies SS 245 0.353 0.420 0.651 0.450 179 6.2 -1.1 4.0
Everth Cabrera Padres SS 301 0.294 0.369 0.412 0.346 127 3.5 5.0 3.2
Jean Segura Brewers SS 268 0.340 0.373 0.538 0.390 150 -1.2 2.6 2.9
David Wright Mets 3B 253 0.275 0.372 0.459 0.362 134 -0.1 5.1 2.5
Matt Carpenter Cardinals 3B 281 0.327 0.409 0.473 0.386 150 5.7 0.8 3.4
Carlos Gomez Brewers OF 252 0.316 0.357 0.573 0.393 152 11.6 1.7 3.9
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF 281 0.300 0.377 0.615 0.418 157 1.0 2.9 3.0
Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF 259 0.290 0.359 0.455 0.350 125 5.2 2.3 2.5
Dexter Fowler Rockies OF 271 0.303 0.397 0.498 0.389 137 -0.4 3.6 2.5
Shin-Soo Choo Reds OF 300 0.280 0.430 0.483 0.400 155 -9.1 1.0 2.2
Ryan Braun Brewers OF 242 0.304 0.380 0.509 0.376 140 0.6 0.2 1.8
Bryce Harper Nationals OF 178 0.287 0.386 0.587 0.411 165 -0.2 -0.3 1.7
Evan Gattis Braves DH 175 0.263 0.326 0.603 0.386 148 1.7 0.3 1.9
Name Team Position IP BB% K% HR/9 ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9WAR
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP 100.1 7% 25% 0.45 51 71 83 2.6 3.6
Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP 96.0 2% 24% 0.19 63 46 65 3.8 3.1
Matt Harvey Mets SP 90.0 6% 28% 0.40 57 58 74 3.0 3.4
Cliff Lee Phillies SP 95.1 4% 22% 0.47 66 65 85 2.8 2.7
Shelby Miller Cardinals SP 75.1 6% 28% 0.48 51 63 81 2.3 2.8
Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP 94.2 4% 17% 0.57 52 80 91 2.2 3.5
Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP 85.0 8% 28% 0.85 80 77 78 2.0 1.6
Pat Corbin Diamondbacks SP 81.2 7% 20% 0.44 49 76 99 1.9 3.4
Jose Fernandez Marlins SP 65.1 9% 25% 0.83 82 89 90 1.0 1.2
Jason Grilli Pirates RP 27.2 6% 44% 0.00 26 12 44 1.7 1.5
Mark Melancon Pirates RP 31.1 3% 27% 0.29 31 47 50 1.0 1.6
Aroldis Chapman Reds RP 28.0 11% 42% 0.96 57 61 62 0.8 1.0
Craig Kimbrel Braves RP 24.1 6% 35% 1.11 48 74 58 0.6 1.1

And, finally, the starting line-up.

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Joey Votto, 1B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF
6. Bryce Harper, DH
7. Carlos Gomez, RF
8. Yadier Molina, C
9. Brandon Phillips, 2B

Based on both career track record and 2013 performance, this is how I’d fill out the NL All-Star roster. There are a lot of great players who didn’t make the cut, and there are certainly judgment calls here that could have gone another direction, but overall, I think this is a pretty good set of players who would represent the National League quite well.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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9 years ago

Minor over Melancon is the only easy change I’d make.

9 years ago
Reply to  RMD

I have no idea why he included a decent (but not great) reliever like Melancon over an all-star worthy starter like Minor for a roster spot.

9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

You can’t split up Mark & Cheese!!!

9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

If you don’t like relievers, that’s normal… but Melancon’s FIP is sixth in the majors and second among NL relievers (behind only Grilli). Seems better than “decent”

9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

Mark Melancon’s not having a great year?

9 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Melancon is having a good year, not a great year. I would prefer a top tier starter over a reliever any day. Grilli is probably the only reliever in baseball that should be an all-star this year.

9 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Mariano Rivera should be an All Star, this year, next year, and every year, in perpetuity.

9 years ago
Reply to  Adam

@KJ, please point what has only been ‘good, not great’

Here’s his stats with NL RP ranks in parentheses (min. 20 IP)

1.64 SIERA (2nd), 1.79 FIP (2nd), 1.96 xFIP (2nd), 1.15 ERA (3rd), 1.0 WAR (3rd), 20 SD (1st)

What exactly does he need to do to have had a great year so far in your eyes?

9 years ago
Reply to  Adam

To KJ Says: Why? These guys all end up pitching an inning in the AS game – what’s the magic of a starter being there vs. a reliever?

Melancon’s numbers are what they are. If he’s the #2 reliever in the NL and has the 6th-best FIP in all of baseball….what are we talking about? That’s what the AS Game is for, right?

9 years ago
Reply to  Adam

thank you l1ay!! I can’t understand how anyone thinks those numbers are “good, not great” they’re almost otherwordly at this point.

9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

Maybe because there are already nine starters mentioned? Or maybe because Melancon is better than Minor this year in almost every stat that isn’t cumulative? (Is Melancon ‘decent but not great’? Sure. Is he having an amazing first half? Absolutely.) Or maybe because there would only be three relievers?

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Or maybe because Melancon is better than Minor this year in almost every stat that isn’t cumulative?

You actually can’t just compare a relief pitcher’s rate stats to a starting pitcher’s rate stats. Sorry, but out of these two, Minor is undoubtedly the All Star.

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

I’d take 82 innings of very good pitching vs 31 innings of excellent pitching, and so would every other MLB team.

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Whenever an All-Star game lasts 82 innings, we will make sure Mike Minor is on the roster then.

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

@Brandon: then add Minor and remove fellow Brave Kimbrel, who was the worse stats of the four NL relievers (or actually add Latos or Bailey, both of whom are having comparable/better seasons than Minor)

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

I’m don’t disagree with that, especially re Bailey. I’m just saying comparing a starter to a reliever by k% or bb% is silly, and minor is easily better this year than Melancon.

9 years ago
Reply to  Bob

You’re right. Comparing a starter to a reliever is silly.

9 years ago
Reply to  RMD

How about Trevor Rosenthal over Melancon? Stats back that up and it’s a 1:1 move. Plus, Rosenthal’s more exciting.

9 years ago
Reply to  tehzachatak

cept the stats don’t back that up.