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Now that
the All-Star starters have been announced,
and the Japan-Kroger
plot to avenge the memory of Gus Bell has been thwarted
, let’s take a
shot at figuring the rest of the AL and NL All-Star teams. Note: I’m not
talking about "deserving" here; I’m just playing the home version
of the game Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre are playing for real.

For the first time in a few years, it looks like we have a healthy slate of
electees. Of the 17 slots decided by fans, only one went to a player who
might miss the game due to injury. And even that player, Mike Piazza,
may stay on the roster and serve as the National League’s DH. The health of
the starters makes the process of selecting reserves a little easier.

Let’s start in the NL:

Catcher: Piazza’s probable inability to catch should lead to the
addition of two reserves. Charles Johnson is the easy first choice,
with his .307 Equivalent Average
and good defensive reputation. With usual
suspects Javy Lopez and Jason Kendall having sub-par seasons,
look for Ben Davis to make the team, although there’s a chance the
Dodgers’ Paul LoDuca could sneak in. LoDuca has only been a part-time
catcher, though, and his selection would be a surprise, even given his
.340/.380/.585 performance.

First Base: Ryan Klesko should be an easy call, although with
teammates Davis and Phil Nevin also deserving spots, there’s a chance
one will be bumped. The Reds need a representative, and since the depth in
the NL’s outfield will probably make it impossible to add Ken
Griffey
, look for Sean Casey to make the team. Mark Grace
probably deserves recognition for his performance, but not ahead of Klesko,
which means it will come down to roster numbers.

Second Base: It’s not a good year for second basemen in the NL.
Craig Biggio should get the backup slot instead of Jay Bell
(poor defensively) or Todd Walker (Coorsflation).

Shortstop: It’s an even worse year for NL shortstops, with very few
players performing at an All-Star level. Neifi Perez has inflated
numbers and the best numbers of the bunch, but Jimmy Rollins could
sneak in if Bobby Valentine wants multiple Phillies on the team (and they do
lead their division).

Third Base: Nevin is a no-brainer here, as is Albert Pujols.
The only way anyone else makes the team is if Piazza can’t play, Rick
Reed
is passed over, and Valentine takes Robin Ventura with him
to be the token Met.

Outfield: As has become the case every year in the NL, there are many
outfielders deserving of selection. Locks include Lance Berkman,
Cliff Floyd, Larry Walker, and Vladimir Guerrero. Those
four and the three starters give the NL zero center fielders (sorry, Lance),
so Andruw Jones or Jim Edmonds should make the team. My
thinking is that Edmonds is more deserving, but also more in need of the
three days off, so Jones should get the call. This still leaves Moises
Alou
on the outside looking in, but with the numbers being what they
are, I expect Alou to be the player most screwed this year.

That already leaves just nine spots for pitchers. However, the Pirates need
a representative, so Brian Giles has to make the team. At least one
position player has to go, and this is where I think the Padres might get
squeezed. Or perhaps Floyd will be left off the roster, reopening the
controversy between him and Valentine. Let’s look at the pitchers first:

Pitchers Greg Maddux, John Burkett, Randy
Johnson
, Matt Morris, and Curt Schilling are on the team.
The Brewers need someone, so Ben Sheets makes it. There aren’t many
relievers having big years, but Jose Mesa has a lot of saves and is
the best Phillies’ candidate, so he’ll go. Jon Leiber has been the
Cubs’ best starter and is a deserving representative of the league’s best
rotation. The Dodgers need a player, enhancing Chan Ho Park‘s
already-strong case.

That’s nine, which would give the NL 31 players. Look for either Ben
Davis
to be left off the initial roster, pending a decision on Piazza,
or LoDuca to make it with Park left off. That would make just eight
pitchers, though, so perhaps Valentine will forego having two backup
infielders and take an extra pitcher, be it Park or Shawn Estes or
even Kerry Wood.

OK, on to the American League:

Catcher Jorge Posada is the easy choice. The Tigers need a
representative, and Robert Fick wouldn’t be the worst idea; any Tiger
pick this year will have some kind of caveat attached. Einar Diaz
will have some support, especially with only two other Indians making the
team.

First Base: Jason Giambi is a lock, and Mike Sweeney is
there on merit even if he is the token Royal. The Devil Rays’ only remotely
viable candidate is Fred McGriff, who, in fairness, is a worthy
choice this year. It will create a roster crunch, but I think all three of
these guys will go.

Second Base: I guess I’m the only one who thinks Roberto
Alomar
was robbed. Bret Boone can thank the OBP machines in front
of him for his honor, but he’s not playing any better than Alomar is, and
this selection is going to look downright silly in about another three
weeks. Alomar makes the team, and that’s all.

Shortstop: Jose Valentin‘s performance in a down year for AL
shortstops should earn him a slot on the team, although his lack of playing
time due to injury may deny him the honor. Christian Guzman‘s defense
makes him a worthy alternative, though. I’d expect Derek Jeter to be
named, regardless.

Third Base: Even with the lousy batting average, Troy Glaus is
a worthy All-Star. The Angels don’t need him there, though (Troy
Percival
will make the team), and Torre may elect to pass on a backup
and allow Cal Ripken to go the distance. And bat cleanup. And maybe
even pitch an inning or two.

Outfield: As deep as the NL is, it’s that shallow here. No center
fielder was elected, so Bernie Williams will make the team, and
Mike Cameron deserves to as well.. After that, it’s a crapshoot of
decent-but-not-great players, including Shannon Stewart, Bobby
Higginson
, Magglio Ordonez, and Raul Mondesi. Higginson,
Ordonez, and one of the Blue Jays would complete the roster requirement. I
could also see one of the DHs, like Ellis Burks or Dante
Bichette
–no, really–making the team.

There’s a lot more gray area with the AL, in part because of the lack of
clear All-Star-caliber players, and in part due to more teams with very few
candidates. I get 11 definites from above, counting Glaus but taking only
one extra catcher and one extra shortstop (in both cases, the Yankee), and
assuming just five extra outfielders. That leaves ten spots for pitchers.

Pitchers: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Joe
Mays
, Troy Percival, and Kazuhiro Sasaki are there. I can’t
really see Torre leaving Mariano Rivera off the team, so that’s six.
Tim Wakefield is second in the league in ERA, so even with the low
innings-pitched total, I think he’ll go.

(I don’t know whether they’re bother naming Pedro Martinez or not,
but I do know he won’t be on the game roster.)

I expect either Freddy Garcia or Aaron Sele to make the team,
but not both. Garcia has pitched much better lately and has the better
Support-Neutral
stats, so I’ll guess him. Taking both would give the Ms
eight All-Stars, which is really a ton, although Torre could leave Cameron
home and take a DH…see what I mean?

Two spots left, and there are a ton of pitchers who all look a bit alike,
like Jason Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brad Radke, Tim
Hudson
…I think you’ll see Hudson or Radke, with the last spot going to
some White Sock from a group of Valentin, Ordonez, Buehrle, and Keith
Foulke
.

Any way you slice it, the picture in the AL is much more confusing than in
the NL.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
clicking here.

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