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MLB All-Star Game: Who Deserves the Start? AL Edition

by Photo of Scott Davis

July is fast approaching, the MLB All-Star Game is right around the bend. Who deserves to be voted in?

MLB All-Star Game: Who Deserves the Start? AL Edition

The MLB All-Star Game might be the kookiest of the four major sports' All-Star games. The NFL Pro-Bowl is a post-season afterthought, the NBA All-Star Game is full of gags and stunts and offense that people like to tune out after the competitions end Saturday night, and the NHL, well, hockey doesn't translate so well to fun and games. But the MLB... their games matter. The League that wins the All-Star Game gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

While some people still disagree with the stakes that lie in the All-Star Game, it certainly puts more weight into player selection and player performances. For some teams, who don't really have a shot at making the World Series, it probably doesn't matter much; but for the contending teams, the All-Star roster suddenly has significance. The All-Star starters are voted in by fans, however, which alters exactly how seriously the starters are selected. After all, while some fans will have that home-field advantage in mind, other fans will simply vote for who they want to see in the game.

With All-Star weekend coming to Citi Field in Queens, NY this July, here's a look at some players who deserve the start for the American League.

Catcher: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)

Mauer is still among the best catchers in the league, and this year, he's having a scorching season at the plate. Mauer leads all qualified AL catchers with a .337 batting average and a .417 on-base percentage. His batting average is a full 37 percentage points better than second place Salvador Perez and his 96 hits is nearly 30 better than Jason Castro and Perez, both of whom have 69 hits. The Twins have struggled this season, but not because of Mauer.

First Base: Chris Davis (Baltimore)

Chris Davis is currently slotted to start the All-Star and with good reason. The Orioles' first basement is no longer a secret around the MLB as he leads the league in home runs with 28 on the season. Across the board, Davis leads AL first basement when it comes to batting: first in homers, RBIs, batting average, OBP, and SLG. He's been just as good in the field, leading AL first basemen in double-plays and fielding percentage.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia (Boston)

Some people might point to Howie Kendrick as the AL starting second basemen simply because of batting average, or Robinson Cano because of his scoring, but when digging into further stats, Pedroia deserves the nod. Of qualified second basemen in the AL, Pedroia is second in BA (.318), first in hits (98), second in RBIs (45), and first in OBP. Furthermore, his Red Sox have the best record in the AL. And in the field, he has the best fielding percentage of qualified players.

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)

Last year's Triple Crown winner is nearly on pace to do the unbelievable for a second straight year. He leads the MLB in BA with an absurd .370 and in RBIs with 78. He's second in home runs with 22, behind Chris Davis only. He's the best player on the Detroit Tigers who happen to be the best team in their division. Cabrera is a no-brainer.

Short Stop: Jhonny Peralta (Detroit)

It's a tough call between Peralta and Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, but the nod should go to Peralta. His team is first in its division with a better record than the Orioles, and he has been hitting and fielding better than Hardy. Peralta leads AL short stops with a BA of .320 and an OBP of .379. He trails Hardy in homers and RBIs, but he has been the better defenseman, collecting a .986 fielding percentage.

Left Field: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)

Trout leads a crop of somewhat unspectacular left fielders. There are a lot of good options, but not a lot of great players; Trout is a pretty great player. He leads qualified AL left fielders in BA at .308, OBP at .384, and in RBIs with 51. The Angels have just a 35-43 record, but Trout has been a bright spot for them and looks to be part of their future.

Center Field: Adam Jones (Baltimore)

The AL center field crop has a lot of good prospects, but Baltimore's Adam Jones seems like the most worthy choice. He leads qualified players in BA (.297), SLG (.500), home runs (15), and RBIs, by a wide margin (55). The Yankees' Bret Gardner and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury both deserves some mention, but they haven't hit or scored as well as Jones. And in the field, Jones has the better fielding percentage of both players. Another All-Star for the O's.

Right Field: Jose Bautista (Toronto)

Bautista and Nick Markakis of Baltimore have both had their names floated out there as the starting right fielder for the AL. In the end, Bautista should be rewarded with the selection. Though the Blue Jays are just a game over .500, Bautista has out-performed Markakis in most measures. He has more runs, more homers, more RBIs, and a better OBP, SLG, and OPS.

Pitcher: Clay Buchholz (Boston)

For qualified AL pitchers, Boston's Buchholz is the leader in almost all categories. He has a downright silly 1.71 ERA, and he's allowed a miniscule 57 hits, 16 runs, and 2 homers in 12 starts in which he has a 9-0 record. It's worth noting that he's had fewer starts compared to other top pitchers in the AL, and his WHIP isn't as low as some others, but his numbers don't lie. Batters haven't been doing well when Buchholz has been on the mound. 

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (Boston)

If a player is simply going to be chosen for hitting, it might as well be the best hitter of the DHs. David Ortiz has been that guy. In 229 at-bats he has a .319 average, .409 OBP, 15 homers, and 57 RBIs. Big Papi is still doing it.

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