Catcher: Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
McCann doesn’t have the on-base ability of Russell Martin, but he has a distinct power advantage that makes up for the lack of OBP. He’s also slightly better defensively, throwing out about 20% of runners compared to Martin’s 16%. You could anoint Martin here – his OBP advantage arguably makes him just as valuable, if not more valuable, than McCann.
Geovanny Soto is another fine young catcher. He’s bring premium power at the position, and is a touch better than both McCann and Martin defensively. Soto should be an All-Star mainstay for years to come, but McCann's offensive advantage vaults him over Soto this season.
First Base: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros
Even without Pujols’ recent injury, this is an easy selection. Berkman is dominating the NL to the tune of .367/.450/.705 and leads in all translated statistics as well. Berkman is also the National League’s premier defensive first baseman, with an RZR of .901 and 25 out of zone plays.
Adrian Gonzalez warrants mention for the nice year he’s put together.
Second Base: Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins
Uggla and Chase Utley are both on pace to have the best seasons from second basemen since Honus Wagner, and they’re doing it in the same season. Both are legitimate NL MVP candidates at this point. Uggla gets the advantage here because of his recent hot streak coupled with Utley’s slump and Uggla not playing half his games in a bandbox. Utley has been better defensively.
This is a homer pick – Utley and Uggla are pretty much equal production wise, so I went with the Marlin. Suck me. You can pick either one. By the time of the All-Star game, it's possible one or the other will be the clear choice.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
Rafael Furcal’s injury issues get Ramirez his first All Star start. Ramirez is the most complete offensive SS in the National League, putting up a .294/.385/.525 line at the age of 24. Hanley has even improved his defense from his 2007 abortion-like levels to merely subpar.
Jose Reyes could easily mount a case in the time leading up to the All Star game. Miguel Tejada and Yuniel Escobar are having nice years, particularly defensively, but neither deserves the start.
Duh. Chipper's also a class act off the field.
Left Field: Matt Holiday, Colorado Rockies
Both Pat Burrell and Holliday play in strong offensive environments, although Holliday’s is more favorable towards hitters. Burrell and Holiday have essentially equal offensive production, but Holliday is the better defensive player. You can pick either of these guys, or even Jason Bay, and not be completely batshit crazy. I didn’t go for Bay partially because even I didn’t think an all Pirate OF was logical.
Center Field: Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates
Who? That's him pictured below. McCloth's selection is an argument against picking a player from the individual three OF positions instead of just taking the most productive three outfielders. Nevertheless, McLouth is having the best year out of any full-time CFs.
You’re welcome to take Carlos Beltran in CF if you don’t think McLouth is deserving. McClouth is better offensively, but Beltran is superior defensively and has similar offensive numbers. Beltran’s not a bad choice, but McClouth slightly out-WARP3-ing him, garnering McClouth the start.
Right Field: Xavier Nady, Pittsburgh Pirates
The toughest position to choose. Contenders are Ryan Ludwick, Xavier Nady, Brian Giles, and Kosoke Fukudome. Corey Hart and Randy Winn can even mount cases. Fukudome is the best defensively and gets on base at the highest rate, but, like Giles, doesn’t provide much power. Nady and Ludwick don’t have the OBP of Giles and Fukudome but give more power.
I’d pick Nady or Ludwick because their offensive advantage is large enough to outweigh Fukudome’s and Giles’ defensive advantages. Neither Nady nor Ludwick have distinguished themselves this month; both are mired in shitty June’s, possibly indicating their first half success is not sustainable. There is little difference in either their VORP or WARP3.
Nady starts over Ludwick because of his OBP advantage and greater defensive value – while their RZR’s are similar, Nady has 34 out of zone plays compared to Ludwick’s 13. Xavier makes two Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL starting lineup, a sure sign to begin hoarding bottled water and canned goods.
Starting Pitcher: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
Volquez’s walk rate isn’t great and he got rocked this week, but he strikes out an assload of batters and hasn’t been giving up HRs despite pitching in Great American Ballpark. Ben Sheets and Tim Lincecum are other acceptable selections.