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July 11, 2013
The Lineup Card
Ten of Our Personal All-Stars
1. Josh Donaldson
No, I'm not suggesting that Donaldson should have been selected over Miguel Cabrera. Nor am I saying that Manny Machado shouldn’t have made the team. And I do believe Bartolo Colon earned a spot on the AL pitching staff. But the A's are sitting in first place in the tough American League West, and they only have one representative headed to the Midsummer Classic?
Not only has Donaldson carried the team offensively with a slash line of .316/.385/.529, but going into Wednesday, he led the team in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles (tied), RBI, and walks. He was also 12th in the majors in batting, 17th in on-base percentage, 14th in slugging, and 10th in OPS—all numbers that were even better than Machado's! —Joe Hamrahi
2. Hank Conger
3. Julio Teheran
The problem seemed to stem partially from Teheran’s loss of his once formidable changeup, which he scarcely threw to start 2013. Yet he adapted, honing his fastball and slider, and finding via those two pitches an improvised mojo that peaked with a near no-hitter a little over a month ago. He faltered in his next start but has since come correct, with four very good outings and one decent one dropping his ERA, after last night’s 7 1/3-inning win over Miami, to a season-low 3.09. This is the Braves’ fifth starter, and he has so far accumulated more PVORP than all but two other pitchers in Atlanta’s starting rotation, tied with Tim Hudson and barely trailing Mike Minor.
I could have chosen Minor himself, of course, and Minor is worthy, too. But Teheran, just 22 years old, showed great maturity in rebuilding his arsenal around unexpected pitches when he lost the feel for his change, and regained more than prospect status: He re-established himself as a possible future stalwart at or near the top of the Braves’ rotation. And he’s one of the notable reasons why Atlanta has led the NL East since Opening Day. —Adam Sobsey
4. Matt Tuiasosopo
This after not sniffing the big leagues since 2010. He toiled through three partial seasons with the Mariners, hitting .176/.234/.306, and was never called back up after that. A year with the Mets did not impress either, nor did he have employment prospects in 2013, so he did what any unemployed man in America would do: email the résumé around. The Tigers answered first, since they were in the market for a right-handed outfield bat and also some organizational depth. And, as the spring training outfield candidates fell one by one, Tuiasosopo remained standing on the 25-man roster, platooning with Andy Dirks in left field.
He'll never be mistaken for an All-Star, but he has flourished while doing all that has been asked of him—no more, no less—which is what can happen when a player is used almost perfectly by situation and by volume. —Matt Sussman
5. James Shields
6. Alexei Ramirez
At the plate, Ramirez has taken a step backward in the power department; he has hit but one home run this season after hitting at least nine in each of the previous four seasons. What he has given up in power, he has gained in speed, as the Cuban Missile is just one stolen base shy of tying his career high of 20 set just last season in 71 more games played.
The fact that Ramirez is running like this while playing all but one inning of the 2013 season makes him my unsung all-star. —Jason Collette
7. Russell Martin
Martin is back in full force this year. His .278 TAv is the best he’s had since the ’07 season. He’s also an above-average fielder (by FRAA) for the first time since then. He’s caught 50 percent of baserunners stealing against him. The Pirates pitching staff he catches is first in the majors with a 3.14 team ERA. The Buccos are hovering around .600 at the moment. Life is good for the 30-year-old Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr.—certainly a lot better than things looked a few years ago. —Dan Rozenson
8. Daniel Nava
He's been a little BABIP-y with his .295/.377/.445 line bolstered by a .336 BABIP, but there's some power there with 10 home runs, there's some patience, and there's basically been a free 1.8 WARP first half on the AL East's best team. —Zachary Levine
9. Julio Urias
So in order to get the most firsts as possible out of the highly talented Urias, I want to see him added to the National League roster in the All-Star Game. Imagine how much excitement would be generated by the 16-year-old kid jogging out of the bullpen to pitch to Prince Fielder or Alex Gordon in front of millions and millions of viewers. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about this. And while the phrase "chance of a lifetime" often gets overused to the point where it's almost meaningless, this time we can say it and actually MEAN it. This may be our only chance to get a 16-year-old into the All-Star Game. —Bret Sayre
10. Mat Latos
In fact, Latos hasn’t made headlines in many respects. Baseball America never named him a top 100 prospect (though we once ranked him no. 61.) His radar readings are respectable, but they don’t stand out. None of his pitches regularly draws oohs and ahhs or gets GIF’d and passed around. And he’s not going to be asked to pose for the ESPN The Magazine Bodies issue (although we know what he looks like catching sharks shirtless). But he is a durable, above-average arm who can be counted on to turn in an ERA in the 3.00-3.50 range—and a FIP to match—whether he’s pitching in Petco or Great American Ball Park. That might not be the kind of pitcher who makes all-star rosters, but it is the type who would fit in near the top of every team’s rotation. —Ben Lindbergh