I know, I know. The All-Star teams have been announced. I’m a little late revealing my National League club.
Last week I shared my thoughts about my choices for the American League All-Star team. I came pretty close to naming the actual team. I had a few misses here and there, but a guy can’t be perfect.
My National League team isn’t quite the same as the one that will take the field Wednesday in Florida. My team certainly is close.
All-Star teams are really subjective. Do we go with the guys having great seasons, or do we choose the guy that can give the club the best chance to win? They aren’t always the same person.
So, here are my selections for the 2017 National League All-Star team.
CATCHER: BUSTER POSEY-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
I can’t help feeling sorry for Posey. Yes, he has World Series rings and some guys never come close. But here he is, having an amazing season and his team is in the dumper. And it doesn’t appear they have a road map out. Saying they were “tapped out,” Giants management left Posey and his teammates with a short pitching staff, no true left fielder, no major-league depth and a farm system that is empty. But Posey seems undaunted. He continues to be a lethal hitter for average. His home runs are not frequent, but he plays in a tough park. If I’m the Giants I try to get Posey away from catching as soon as possible. But then again, they are short at the catching position within the organization.
My backup catcher is J.T. Realmuto, an outstanding hitter and a member of the home team Marlins. Yes, that figured in my decision to name him my backup over Yadier Molina. Molina is great, true. But Realmuto is having an All-Star year. He deserves my backup role.
FIRST BASE: PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT-ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Yes, I know that Ryan Zimmerman has reinvented his swing and he has a ton of home runs. Yes, I know that he worked to increase his “launch angle.” That’s fine. He’s had a great season.
Paul Goldschmidt has to be seen game in and game out to be appreciated. Not only is he a tremendous power hitter, Goldschmidt is a magician at first base. Gold Glove. Smooth as silk. And he steals bases. He is the complete slugger and power hitter. If I’m on the National League club, that’s the guy I want in my starting lineup. If I’m the American League pitcher, I don’t want to face Goldy. He’s my starter and it wasn’t that tough a decision.
SECOND BASE: DANIEL MURPHY-WASHINGTON NATIONALS
So many people thought Murphy was a fluke when he had a terrific postseason with the Mets. All he’s done is hit like crazy since. He hits for average and he hits for power. The team can’t really ask for more. Or maybe they can. Murphy isn’t really a very solid second baseman. He’s really more a…designated hitter. That’s his best role in baseball. But he deserves to start the game and get his swings.
My runner-up is DJ LeMahieu. He’s as steady and consistent as they come. Excellent hitter and outstanding Gold Glove-caliber second baseman. But LeMahieu is not Murphy. LeMahieu is LeMahieu-the guy his manager kept out of the lineup the last few games last year so he could win a batting title. I didn’t go for that at all.
SHORTSTOP: COREY SEAGER-LOS ANGELES DODGERS
I have similar responses when I see Seager as I do when I watch Carlos Correa of the Astros. They are both exciting game-changing hitters with power and great hitting skills. I also feel both would be better playing third base instead of shortstop. That’s a discussion for another day and time.
Seager is just a very steady hitter who “gets it.” He knows how to play the game and he turns in numbers that are well beyond his youthful 24 years on this earth. At 6-foot-4, Seager may even have a bit more power in his frame. That would be amazing.
My runner up is the very under the radar Zack Cozart. He has missed some games this year, but at age 31 he is a savvy veteran capable of hitting in the clutch and adding tremendous value in his hitter-friendly home American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
THIRD BASE: NOLAN ARENADO-COLORADO ROCKIES
For me, Arenado is still not appreciated across the country. Like Goldschmidt, one has to see plenty of Arenado to really appreciate how great he really is. Not just good. Great.
Arenado has a home field advantage in Coors Field. But he can hit in any park. He can hit during the day and at night. He can probably hit with his eyes closed. And frankly, Arenado is the best fielding third baseman I have ever seen. Yes, better than Brooks Robinson. And yes, he’s better than Manny Machado. He is so smooth and effortless it almost defies belief.
Behind Arenado I have to go with the Diamondbacks Jake Lamb. He’s really hitting left-handers much better than in the past. It just took some playing time and patience before he showed he was a complete, power hitting, run producing, game-changing third baseman.
BRYCE HARPER-WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Harper and Mike Trout were the faces of baseball for a couple of years. They’re still both up there in the stratosphere, but there are others joining them. Like Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge. But Harper is really special to watch. Some people are put off by his aggressive and cocky approach to the game. I happen to love his passion. I think he does everything humanly possible to win. He knows he’s good. And yes, he’s very good.
When healthy, Harper can kill a baseball with a vicious swing that punishes the baseball. He also plays terrific defense and has a gun for an arm. My outfield starts with Harper.
CHARLIE BLACKMON-COLORADO ROCKIES
Blackmon doesn’t get the publicity of Arenado or the negative press of Harper. He does, however, generate action for the Rockies from the top of the batting order. He drives the ball through the center of the diamond, the location all hitters strive to hit. At one point in the offseason, Blackmon’s name was bandied about as a possible trade chip. No way. If I’m the Rockies, I keep Blackmon. He’s a winner with a great all-around game.
MARCELL OZUNA-MIAMI MARLINS
My last outfield spot was a toss-up between Ozuna and Bellinger. I went with Ozuna because he has done it a bit longer than Bellinger. Ozuna may be playing a bit over his skis, but I’ll take it. He’s been steady as a hitter all season. He’s hitting for average, home runs and he’s driving in runs. What more can be asked of a player?
DESIGNATED HITTER: CODY BELLINGER-LOS ANGELES DODGERS
I chose a designated hitter in the American League, so I’ll choose one in the National League as well. For me, it has to be Cody Bellinger. His pull-hitting uppercut swing is really paying dividends for the Dodgers. He’s very dangerous every time he comes to the plate. He’ll have to make some adjustments in the future, just as Aaron Judge will do in the American League. Pitchers have a way of coming after young upstarts. But Bellinger has put a charge in the Dodgers that may just lead them all the way to the World Series.
Ender Inciarte-OF Braves
Ryan Zimmerman-1B Nationals
Mark Reynolds-1B- Rockies
D J LeMahieu-2B-Rockies
Khris Bryant-3B- Cubs
Next week I’m going to feature some players I saw in the Futures Game. I’ll give you my take from a scouting perspective.
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