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Hector Neris (USATSI)

Baseball

Updated NL All-Star Team

N.L Starting Catcher: Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Previously: Contreras)

The only real competition Contreras faces for the starting catching spot comes from Yasamani Grandal, but Contreras has him beat in every category besides home runs and RBIs (where he trails by just one for each). Contreas has been essentially a role player during the Cubs run, but he has been arguably their best player this year. He’s already bested last years home run total with 15 while composing a slash line of .292/.390//560 with an outstanding 142 OPS+. Couple that with one of the strongest arms in the league behind the plate, and you have the best all-around catcher in the game.

N.L Starting First Baseman: Josh Bell, Pirates (Previously: Freddie Freeman, Braves)

N.L first baseman is the strongest group in the game. You have the established stars like Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo, up-and-coming talent like Josh Bell and Rhys Hoskins, and the phenom Pete Alonso. I give the edge narrowly to Bell. He’s not the biggest name in the group, but his outstanding start has made up what he may lake in popularity. The only candidate even remotely close to him in numbers across the board is Freddie Freeman, and Bell has him beat by double digits in RBIs and thirty points in OPS.

N.L Starting Second Baseman: Mike Moustakas, Brewers (Previously: Javier Baez)

Last time I had Baez at second base, but with Ben Zobrist out, Baez has been playing more shortstop and doesn’t qualify as a second baseman. So the spot goes to Moustakas, who is more than qualified.  He leads all second baseman by a comfortable margin in home runs, OPS and slugging.

N.L Starting Shortstop: Javier Baez, Cubs (Previous Starter: Paul Dejong, Cardinals)

The Cubs are flat out stacked on offense this year, but the glue holding them all together is the electric Javier Baez. Baez leads all N.L shortstops is home runs while placing top three in average and OPS. He also is a human highlight reel at shortstop. With Trevor Story on the IL, Baez should face little resistance for the starting NL shortstop vote.

N.L Starting Third Baseman: Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Previous Starter: Arenado)

All year, it’s been a two-man race between Arenado and Anthony Rendon for starting third baseman’s role. Rendon has him beat by nearly 100 points in OPS, but Arenado has him beat in average (.328 to .314), home runs (18 to 17), RBIs (60 to 51) and plays better defense. I give the edge to Arenado.

N.L Starting Outfielders: Christian Yelich, Brewers; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers; Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves (Previous Starters: Yelich, Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Dodgers)

Bellinger and Yelich are no-doubters. They are unquestionably the top two NL MVP candidates, each one top two in the majors in home runs, average, slugging, and OPS. The third spot is a little trickier. It comes to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Charlie Blackmon. Charlie Blackmon is the more established player and has had the better offensive season, but Acuna is the better all-around players. He is also arguably the brightest talent in the majors, contending for the MVP one year after winning the rookie the year. This should be the first of many starts for Acuna.

N.L Starting Pitching: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers (Previous Starter: Ryu)

Ryu doesn’t look the part of a dominating ace. A rotund 6-3 255, he rarely reaches the mid-90s with his fastball. Ryu’s bread and butter is his impeccable control. He’s issued just five free passes all year, leading to a ridiculous 17 K/BB ratio. He easily leads the lead in ERA at 1.26 and WHIP with .817.

The Lineup

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
  2. Christian Yelich, RF
  3. Cody Bellinger, CF
  4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  5. Freddie Freeman, DH
  6. Josh Bell, 1B
  7. Javier Baez, SS
  8. Mike Moustakas, 2B
  9. Wilson Contreras, C

 

The Reserves (Following the rule that each team needs at least one representative)

ARI 2B Ketel Marte

CHI 3B Kris Bryant

CIN UT Derek Detrich

COL SS Trevor Story

COL RF Charlie Blackmon

MIL C Yasmani Grandal

NYM 1B Pete Alonso

PHI C J.T Realmuto

SD LF Hunter Renfroe

STL SS Paul Dejong

WAS 3B  Anthony Rendon

WAS OF Juan Soto

Ketel Marte is the latest product of the home run revolution, raising his launch angle, hitting 20 home runs already after never hitting more than 14 in a single season prior. After two injury-plagued, disappointing seasons, Kris Bryant is enjoying a nice bounce-back campaign.  He’s hitting .284 with 15 home runs. Just a few months after being released by the lowly Marlins,  Derek Dietrich could be an all-star. He has an outstanding .931 OPS. One of the best dual-threat talents in baseball, Trevor Story continues to impress on the bases (12 steals) and in the power department (18 HRs). Teammate Charlie Blackmon is also raking, hitting .338 with an incredible .1042 OPS. One of the best framers in the game, Yasmani Grandal is just as effective with the bat. He has 16 home runs and an OPS over .900. The early favorite for NL rookie of the year, Pete Alonso is currently tied for second in the majors with 25 home runs. J.T Realmuto has been a bit underwhelming in his first season in Philadephia, but he is still one of the best all-around catchers in baseball. After two straight years of hitting 26 home runs, Hunter Renfroe has taken it to the next level by already hitting 23 this year.  Paul Dejong has cooled off after his hot start, but he’s still third among NL shortstops in OPS.  Anthony Rendon deserves the chance to finally make his first all-star appearance. He’s hitting .313 with 17 home runs while playing his usual great defense. As the Nationals caught fire, so has Juan Soto. He’s hitting a clean .300 with an OBP just below .400.

N.L Pitcher Reserves (Following the rule that every team needs at least one representative)

ARI Zack Greinke

ATL Mike Soroka

CIN Luis Castillo

LAD Walker Buehler

MIA Caleb Smith

MIL Josh Hader

NYM Jacob deGrom

PHI Hector Neris

PIT Felipe Vazquez

SD Kirby Yates

SFG Will Smith

WAS Max Scherzer

Zack Greinke continues to age like fine wine. He has an ERA below three while holding opponents to an average of .220. In just his age 21 season, Soroka has emerged as a bonafide, top of the rotation pitcher.  He has an ERA of 2.20. Luis Castillo is single-handily shattering the notion that nobody can pitch in Great American Ballpark. He has a 2.56 ERA in large part to his incredible .182 BAA. Speaking of unhittable young pitchers, Walker Buehler has held batters to a .200 batting average against while striking out over a batter an inning. Somebody needs to represent the lowly Marlins, and Caleb Smith is as good a choice as any with his 3.41 ERA. Josh Hader continues to be impossible to hit off. He has a ridiculous .100 BAA while striking out nearly two batters an inning. Jacob Degrom hasn’t been nearly as good as last year, but he’s still sporting a solid 3.25 ERA with 121 strikeouts in 97 innings. Taking over the closer role after David Robertson’s injury, Hector Neris has blown just one save in sixteen tries while posting an ERA of just over two and a half. If not for Kirby Yates, Felipe Vazquez might be considered the best closer in baseball. He’s 19-20 in save opportunities and has an ERA under two. While Vazquez has been great, the aforementioned Yates has been otherworldly. He’s perfect in 26 save chances with an ERA just over one. Will Smith is also perfect in his 20 save chances, as he’s nearly impossible to get on base against as his .77 WHIP suggests. Through all the Nationals ups and downs through the recent years, Max Scherzer has always been Max Scherzer. He’s fourth in the NL in ERA and first in strikeouts.

 

 

 

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