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Photo Credit: Tony Dejak/ Associated Press

Baseball

NL All-Star Game Roster at the Quarter Mark

NL Catcher: Wilson Contreras, Cubs

Contreras looks ready to take the torch from the aging Buster Posey and Yadier Molina as the best catcher in baseball. He leads all NL Catchers in home runs (11), average (.317), OBP (.419), SLG (.612), and OPS (1.031) and is second in RBIs with 31. He is also an excellent defender. Contreras looks like a sure bet to earn the NL’s starting spot for the second year in a row.

Potential Reserves: Yasmani Grandal, Brewers; J.T. Realmuto, Phillies; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

NL First Baseman: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers

After two years in the league, we didn’t know quite what to make from Bellinger. He set an NL rookie record for home runs in 2017 but followed that up with an underwhelming sophomore campaign. Adding to the uniqueness of Bellinger is that he is a tremendous runner and not just for a first baseman. He is also a terrific and versatile defender. This year he has put it all together: top two in the majors in each triple crown category, has seven stolen bases, and has been an above-average defender. He has a ridiculous 238 OPS+ and has posted a 4.7 WAR in just 47 games. Not only does he look like a safe bet to win the NL starting first baseman’s spot in the all-star game, but the NL MVP as well.

Potential Reserves: Freddie Freeman, Braves; Josh Bell, Pirates; Pete Alonso, Mets

NL Second Baseman: Javier Baez, Cubs

Baez broke out last year, transforming from a toolsy, hit or miss supporting player to an all-around superstar. This year is more of the same. His plate discipline is still atrocious (57 K/ 12 BB), but that doesn’t matter when you hit .323 with 11 home runs. Even as he becomes more experienced, he still maintains the same electricity on the bases and in the field as he did as a rookie. The All-Star game is made for players like Baez, and he is more than deserving of the starting spot this year.

Potential Reserves: Jeff Mcneil, Mets; Howie Kendrick, Nationals; Derek Dietrich, Reds

NL Shortstop: Paul Dejong, Cardinals

The first three spots have all been no-doubters, but this one was very close between Dejong and Trevor Story. Story is the better all-around player, but Dejong’s incredible offensive start gets him the nod. Dejong is leading all NL shortstops in average, OBP, SLG, and OPS while being second in home runs and third in RBIs. His baserunning and defense is not quite at the level of Story but is still far from a liability. After two injury-plagued seasons, Dejong is finally showing he can be a star when healthy.

Potential Reserves: Trevor Story, Rockies; Fernando Tatis Jr, Padres; Jean Segura, Phillies

NL Third Baseman: Nolan Arenado, Rockies

This is another close one, this time between Arenado and the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon. Rendon looks like the obvious choice, having an OPS nearly 200 points higher than Arenado. However, being on a terrible Nationals team and a series of injuries will hurt Rendon. Arenado hasn’t been quite as productive as Rendon, but his usual combination of durability, power, and great defense pushes him over the top.

Potential Reserves: Anthony Rendon, Nationals; Kris Bryant, Cubs; Eugenio Suarez, Reds

NL Outfielders: Christian Yelich, Brewers; Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies

Though he has been overshadowed by Cody Bellinger’s unbelievable dominance, Yelich has been even better than he was in his MVP season last year. He leads the majors with 19 home runs to go along with a staggering 1.172 OPS. One of the most hyped rookies in recent memory, Acuna Jr. has been just as good as a sophomore. He’s batting .280 with 11 home runs and eight steals. It was hard to pick a third outfielder in what is a very weak NL group, but the third spot goes to All-Star veteran Charlie Blackmon. Though Blackmon’s best years are likely behind him, he remains an All-Star caliber player. He’s hitting .300 while slugging an impressive .565. Name recognition won’t hurt either.

Potential Reserves: Michael Conforto, Mets; Alex Verdugo, Dodgers; Joc Pederson, Dodgers; Franmil Reyes, Padres, David Peralta; Diamondbacks

NL Starting Pitcher: Hyun-Jin Ryu

As Kyle Hendricks did a few years ago, Ryu is dominating hitters by moving away from common trends. In an era of high strikeouts and high velocity, Ryu makes up for what he lacks on the radar gun with impeccable control. He has walked a Maddux-like four batters in 59.2 innings. He still strikes out a batter an inning, and the sum of all the parts is an incredible 1.52 ERA. Even in a league of exceptional starting pitchers, Ryu stands out.

Starting Lineup:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, RF
  2. Javier Baez, SS
  3. Chrisitan Yelich, LF
  4. Cody Bellinger, 1B
  5. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  6. Ronald Acuna, CF
  7. Josh Bell, DH
  8. Wilson Contreras, C
  9. Paul Dejong, SS

Potential Reserves:

ARI RF David Peralta

ATL 1B Freddie Freeman

CHI 3B Kris Bryant

CIN 2B Derek Dietrich

CIN 3B Eugenio Suarez

COL SS Trevor Story

LAD LF Joc Pederson

MIL C Yasmani Grandal

NYM 1B Pete Alonso

NYM CF Michael Conforto

PHI C J.T Realmuto

SDP SS Fernando Tatis Jr.

WAS 3B Anthony Rendon

David Peralta is the epitome of consistency, as he is well on his way to another .300 season to go along with his excellent defense. Speaking of consistency, Freddie Freeman is taking advantage of finally getting protection in the lineup, as he is on his way to posting the highest OPS of his career. After an injury-plagued 2018, Kris Bryant is back to performing at an MVP level. A more surprising All-Star is Derek Deitrich, who finally escaped his utility role in Miami to nearly matching his season-high in home runs in two months in Cincinnati. Teammate Eugenio Suarez hasn’t quite matched last year’s production but he’s still banged out 13 home runs. In a weak NL shortstop class, Trevor Story gets the backup nod despite mediocre offense production due to his 11 home runs and eight steals. Don’t let Joc Pederson’s .227 average fool you: his power and patience have his OPS at .935, second among NL left fielders. Yasmani Grandal has always been heralded as a great defensive catcher, and that along with a .850 OPS lands him the backup backstop spot. For a team that has long been looking for a power hitter, Pete Alonso has burst on the scene with 16 home runs in an otherwise disastrous season for the Mets. Another impressive Met is Michael Conforto who actually has a higher OPS than Alonso, due in large part to being top ten in the league in walks. J.T. Realmuto has lost his hold on “the best catcher in the league”, but he’s still third among NL catchers in OPS. Maybe the most impressive rookie in a spectacular rookie class, Fernando Tatis Jr. posted a .910 OPS before getting sidelined without a hamstring injury. Anthony Rendon has been a rare bright spot for a struggling Nationals team, hitting .321 while leading the league in doubles.

NL Pitchers:

ARI Zach Greinke

ATL Mike Soroka

CHI Jon Lester

CIN Luis Castillo

COL German Marquez

MIA Caleb Smith

MIL Zack Davies

NYM Edwin Diaz

PIT Felipe Vazquez

SD Chris Paddack

SD Kirby Yates

SFG Tony Watson

WAS Sean Doolittle

Mike Soroka has fewer starts than any other pitcher on either’s side roster, but when you have a 1.01 ERA you earn a spot on the All-Star team.

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