The American League All-Star Merit Team

The ASB is here, and as we know, This Time It Really Matters (No, Really, Please Watch This Game). I'd like to take to remake each team and not abide by the silly rule of having a player from each team. Today, I'll look at the AL.

Catcher

Joe Mauer wins here, pretty easily. He sports a wOBA of .380 and an OBP of .402. That's crazy good from your catcher, and probably unsustainable given his .387 BABIP. Who cares, he's the best. The backup is interesting, with many worthy candidates. I'm going with Jason Castro here. The other true option is Carlos Santana, but he's just so terrible behind the plate. He's got 50 points of OBP on Castro, but Castro had 10 points SLG on him, and the wRC+ of the two (120 to 137) aren't so far as to be an insane pick. Santana will almost certainly make the team as an at-large.

First Base

Chris Davis has a higher WAR than 2nd and 3rd place combined. He has a SLG of .717. Insanity. Edwin Encarnacion was also great this year, with a wOBA of .380 and a higher walk rate than strikeout rate (11.5% to 11.3%). James Loney was close here, but I think Edwin is just a hair better, especially in pinch-hit duties.

Second Base

I'm going to go with Dustin Pedroia here, who is closely followed by Robinson Cano. Pedroia doesn't have the slugging percentage that Cano has, but he's slightly better in OBP and is a much better fielder. You really couldn't go wrong with either. Jason Kipnis is also a strong consideration. 

Shortstop

This is a pretty weak crop. Jose Iglesias could be the pick due to his unsustainably hot start. He's actually a great defensive shortstop, but fangraphs hates his glove for some reason. His BABIP is crazy high (.414) and he has no real hit tool, but he's made it work so far. I'm going with Jhonny Peralta, who has an OBP of .361 and plays decent defense. 

Psych! I'm going with Manny Machado. He plays 3B for the Orioles, but he's a natural SS. He's also better than any of these guys. Peralta will back Machado up, who leads the league in doubles by 10.

Third Base

Well, Miguel Cabrera is the best player in baseball. Even though he can't field for shit, a slash of .365/.458/.674 is insanity. Over the past calendar year, it's STILL .352/.435/.667, with 55 HR and 162 RBI. That's an insane season. Since Machado is moved to SS, I can freely take both Evan Longoria and Josh Donaldson, who both deserve it. Adrian Beltre is the hard-luck loser here.

Right Field

Pretty weak crop. I'm going with Jose Bautista, who has clearly separated himself from the back here. Torii Hunter has had a nice season, but not as nice as Bautista. Since I'm taking 3 3B, I'm holding off on taking a backup RF at this moment.

Center Field

Mike Trout, clearly. He's the second best player in baseball this year and he is leagues ahead of anyone else here. Sneaky pick for the backup: Colby Rasmus, who has quietly but together and excellent season. Despite a 30.3% strikeout rate, he's played plus defense and had a .354 wOBA. Adam Jones comes in for some consideration too.

Left Field

There really isn't anyone worth here. I'm going to Alex Gordon, but I'd much rather start Rasmus in left and have Gordon backup. In fact, that's exactly what I'll do. That allows Jones to make the team as a backup CF. If Matt Tuiasosopo had more ABs, maybe I'd take him.

Joe Mauer, Twins
Jason Castro, Astros
Chris Davis, Orioles
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Manny Machado, Orioles
Jhonny Peralta, Indians
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Josh Donaldson, Athletics
Jose Bautista, Jays
Mike Trout, Angels
Adam Jones, Orioles
Colby Rasmus, Jays
Alex Gordon, Royals

Pitchers

I'm going to go with Max Scherzer, just like the AL did in real life. Same logic with Harvey; when the FIPs are as close as they were, go with the guy who can get the strikeout when he needs it most. Felix Hernandez is next up and a close consideration for the starter. Derek Holland, Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, CJ Wilson, Bartolo Colonand Doug Fister round out my starters. For relievers, I'll take Jesse Crain, Greg Holland, Glen Perkinsand Koji Uehara. Honestly, Rivera was close here, but not even next in line for me (Drew Smyly, Joaquin Benoit). 

Max Scherzer, Tigers
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Derek Holland, Rangers
Chris Sale, White Sox
Justin Verlander, Tigers
Yu Darvish, Rangers
CJ Wilson, Angels
Bartolo Colon, Athletics
Doug Fister, Tigers
Jesse Crain, White Sox
Greg Holland, Royals
Glen Perkins, Twins
Koji Uehara, Red Sox

That leaves 5 players left for my bench. I'm going to grab 2 OF, 2 INF, and a last catcher. The CF will be Desmond Jennings, who I'm very high on. I think he's going to be a 5-7 WAR player for quite some time. I'll also grab Jacoby Ellsbury. I'll choose Jason Kipnis as my MINF, and my CIF will be Adrian Beltre, who'd be a shoo-in almost any other year. That allows Carlos Santana to play catcher #3.

Desmond Jennings, Rays
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Jason Kipnis, Indians
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Carlos Santana, Indians

That's the team. Let me know if I missed anyone obvious!
 

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