(SoB readers: For extra credit read this post out loud in a Louis Armstrong voice! See how far you can get before you cough yourself stupid!)
The 2009 All-Star selections are out, and there are, as usual, few surprises. Fun Fact: The Red Sox have the most All-Stars of any major-league team this year, with six. Dustin Pedroia and Jason Bay were named as starters, while Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Sox all-time starts leader Tim Wakefield made the AL pitching staff. (Geoff’s predictions were creepily accurate.) Kevin Youkilis will be on the bench, backing up — arrgh — Yankee 1B Mark Teixeira.
- C: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins. In a position whose physical demands make it difficult to produce day in and day out, Mauer has quietly become one of the finest hitters in the big leagues. Plus, it’s difficult not to give it to a guy hitting .390 so far this year. Yikes.
- 1B: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees. This is a tough beat for Youk, but there’s no shame in losing out to a guy who’s hit 20 HR and knocked in 61 runs. Except if he’s a Yankee. (Still not Youk’s fault.)
- 2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox. Give it up, once again, for Boston’s own teeny little super guy. Texas’s Ian Kinsler made this one close, but Red Sox Nation helped send Pedroia to his second straight All-Star game.
- SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees. Since 1998, Jeter’s missed exactly one All-Star game. I feel comfortable calling this the least surprising All-Star pick of the year.
- 3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. 2008′s AL Rookie of the Year handily outdistanced A-Rod in the voting to pick up his second All-Star selection and why not? He appears to be headed for another highly productive year and no AL 3B really comes close.
- OF: Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox. I thought the man deserved it, but I certainly didn’t expect our own Jason Bay to absolutely run away with the All-Star voting. OK, he’s cooled off lately, but he’s still leading the league in RBI. Plus, he’s a newly-minted U.S. citizen.
- OF: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners. Well, what to say about the hit machine from Kasugai? After the second-worst hitting season of his career, in which he hit a measly .310, he looks to be back on track for Seattle, hitting .362 so far in this campaign. (For the record, his career average is .332 and he’s never hit below .303. Ridiculous.)
- OF: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers. My only real quibble with the AL starters. How can you give it to a guy who’s only played 35 games this year and hasn’t done much in those? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a bona fide slugger — .304/32/130 last year — but I don’t think guys should get into the All-Star game based on past seasons. Yeah, I know, there’s no tooth fairy either.
- AL Pitchers — Not really worth going in-depth here, as it’s mostly the same old crew, but note well that three of the 13 are Red Sox. Beckett, of course, continues to embody the term “staff ace” (or does he?), Papelbon’s still a dominant closer, and Wake is having a stellar year, especially in light of his advanced age.
- C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals. Consistent, plays good defense. A solid choice, which is what you want in a catcher.
- 1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals. The AL is stronger than the NL, but this guy keeps it close pretty much on his own. The year he’s having is flat-out scary — .336/31/82. That’s pretty damn good for a whole year, but he’s barely halfway done. Undeniably the best hitter currently walking the earth.
- 2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies. Another easy pick. This appearance will mark Utley’s fourth consecutive NL All-Star team, and there’s really nobody to break his streak now playing in the NL.
- SS: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins. The Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins had enough fan support to make this one close, but it’s tough to beat a guy having the kind of year that Ramirez is having. It also would have been nice to know that he’d have such a year back in 2005, when he played for Boston…for about five seconds.
- 3B: David Wright, New York Mets. This guy is another hardy perennial from New York — it would be easy to see him as the clubhouse/PR equivalent of the Yankees’ Jeter — and is one of four Mets picked. He’s hitting .326 and is great with the leather. What’s not to like?
- OF: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets. Even American Leaguers are familiar with Carlos Beltran, though it might have something to do with this being the fifth straight time he’s lined up against them in the All-Star game. He’s on the 15-day DL, though, and probably won’t play.
- OF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. As a native midwesterner, I’ve seen more of this guy than most of you probably have, and let me tell you: he’s quite something to watch. This young man hits like a veteran and could well be a surprise to the AL pitching staff.
- OF: Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies. I don’t know much about this guy, but I definitely remember him hitting a titanic solo shot off Dice-K in Philadelphia this year. (Oh, who hasn’t, right?)
- NL Pitchers — Again, my ignorance is embarrassing, except on the subjects of Lincecum the choco taco eater, K-Rod, and Johan Santana. The only lefties on the staff are Santana and lone Cubs All-Star Ted Lilly, and the highest ERA among them is Johan Santana at 3.87.
So there you have it. The AL will probably win again, because they always do, but also as always, there’s loads of talent on both sides. Should be a nice opportunity to relax before the grind of the second half.
Tags: Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, MLB All-Star Game, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield