Saturday, May 2, 2015

AL April All-Stars

Vogt may not be an All-Star come July, but right now he is (Bay Area Sports Guy)
Even though the All-Star Game is still more than two months away, voting for this year's midsummer classic is already underway. I'm holding off until the last possible second to determine who's truly worthy of All-Star recognition, but if I had to pick my American League All-Star team right now these are the players I'd choose. All stats are through May 1 unless otherwise noted.

C Stephen Vogt
Another A's late-bloomer, Vogt's been the best-hitting backstop in baseball to date with his impressive .348/.432/.594 slash line and 16 RBI. He's already almost halfway to last year's home run and RBI totals, and will keep getting plenty of chances to add to those totals now that he's no longer splitting time with Derek Norris. Also considered Salvador Perez.

1B Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera's cooled a bit since his monster first week, but he still  concluded April with a .373/.465/.627 batting line to go along with five home runs and 17 RBI. Those are the kind of numbers we're used to seeing from the two-time MVP.

2B Devon Travis
Really close call between him and Jose Altuve, though I was ultimately swayed by Travis's superior power totals and slash line. The 24 year-old rookie has been a revelation at the keystone for Toronto, batting .325/.393/.625 with six home runs and 19 RBI--both tops at the position. He started the season batting ninth but has quickly been moved up to the top of the order, where he figures to stay with Jose Reyes sidelined by a cracked rib.

3B Josh Donaldson
Donaldson's continued to post MVP-type numbers north of the border, hitting .330/.390/.585 with six taters and an AL-leading 20 runs entering play today, all while providing his typically excellent defense at the hot corner.

OF Hanley Ramirez
Hanley's gotten off to a huge start with the Red Sox, clubbing 10 home runs and driving in 22 runs while slashing .293/.341/.659 for the month of April. Only Nelson Cruz has more long balls and ribbies than HanRam, who's currently on pace for close to 80 and 170. Hanley has a better chance of keeping his helmet on.

OF Mike Trout
Trout's continued doing all the things that make him the best player in baseball, namely hit the tar out of the ball (.325/.439/.588) while making an impact on the bases (6-for-6 in stolen base attempts) and in center field. He's also leading the league in runs scored--something he did in each of the past three years as well.

OF Adam Jones
Jones was out of his mind in April, batting .400/.440/.707 with five homers, 19 RBI, and 17 runs scored. The current AL batting leader is walking more and striking out less than last year, which is always a good sign. I could nitpick by mentioning that he's still searching for his first stolen base and hasn't homered in two weeks, but otherwise his offensive production has been near-flawless.

DH Nelson Cruz
If you thought Safeco was going to harm Cruz's power numbers, think again. All he's done is hit more home runs, piled up more total bases, and drive in more runs than anyone else in baseball. He's also leading the American League with his .747 slugging, 1.125 OPS, and 215 OPS+. Last year's major league home run king still has a firm grasp on his throne for now.
Hernandez has remained has dominant as ever (Fox Sports)
SP Felix Hernandez
Hernandez is still the king with a perfect 4-0 record, 1.82 ERA, and 36 strikeouts against only six walks. Think maybe he's got something to prove after losing last year's Cy Young race to Corey Kluber?

SP Chris Archer
Archer appears to have taken the next step after a pair of solid seasons, elevating himself to ace status in the early going. In addition to leading the league in strikeouts with 37, he also holds a 0.84 ERA and has not allowed an earned run since his first start of the season.

SP Dallas Keuchel
Not only has the southpaw proved last year's breakout was no fluke, but he's also been arguably the best pitcher in baseball this year. He currently leads the majors in WHIP, H/9, HR/9, and innings pitched. He's not allowed a home run yet and has surrendered just three earned runs in 37 innings of work. Regression is coming, as he's not this good, but the talent level he displayed last year appears legit.

SP Scott Kazmir
The born-again lefty is off to a sensational start with a 1.62 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and over a strikeout per inning.

SP Sonny Gray
Gray has built off last season's success with a 1.98 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Although his strikeout rate has tumbled to 6.2 K/9, he's compensated by cutting his walks rate in half.

RP Dellin Betances
The Yankees setup man has done a terrific job in the early going, not allowing an earned run despite leading the loop in appearances. He's already racked up 21 strikeouts in 13 and 1/3 innings to complement his 1.05 WHIP and 1.82 FIP. He's been a bit wild, walking eight batters and uncorking a pair of wild pitches, but those are minor blemishes on an otherwise spotless track record.

CL Andrew Miller
There was some uncertainty over who would be the Yankees closer this year, but it appears Joe Girardi made the right call by going with Miller/slotting Betances to eighth inning duties. The towering reliever has converted all nine of his save opportunities (most in the AL) and has yet to allow an earned run yet this year. He's also been blowing hitters away with 21 strikeouts in 12 and 1/3 innings, notching at least one K in all of his appearances. Carrying a 0.57 WHIP into today's action, he's been untouchable.

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