Projecting NL All-Star Rosters: Grilli, Burnett Could Be Only Pirates

Andrew McCutchen Pirates
Andrew McCutchen has the 7th-most votes among outfielders, but can he get in as a reserve? (Photo Credit: David Hague)

There is only one month left in the fan voting for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at New York’s Citi Field. Today, MLB released updated ballot results for the National League.

The full results can be found here, but below are the current vote leaders at each position.

Starting Lineup

  • Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants
  • First Base: Joey Votto, Reds
  • Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds
  • Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
  • Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
  • Outfield: Justin Upton, Braves
  • Outfield: Bryce Harper, Nationals
  • Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers

The only eyebrow-raiser is Pablo Sandoval. The Giants’ third baseman is having a good season, but has not been as dominant offensively as David Wright of the Mets (who is in striking distance, about 127,000 votes behind). Other than that small complaint, the voters have done a remarkably good job with their ballots.

Andrew McCutchen is the only Pirates player listed with the top vote-getters in the National League, ranking 7th among NL outfielders. McCutchen is almost 400,000 votes behind Braun for the last outfield spot, which is a lot but not insurmountable. Remember that Jason Bay went from outside the Top 15 in 2006 to become the most-voted-for NL outfielder and started in the All-Star Game at PNC Park.

But with no Pittsburgh player likely to earn a starting nod from voters this year, which Pirates players are possibilities to make it to New York City as a reserve?

To project the NL All-Star team, I looked at the classic stats players and managers often use to determine All-Star status: batting average, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, OBP and OPS). Then for pitchers, I look at: wins, ERA, WHIP strikeouts and saves. None of the choices really account for player history, reputation or defense, which are all factors in making the roster but harder to factor in when making projections.

Without further ado, my NL All-Star Team projections —

Position Players

  • Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (1st in batting average)
  • Catcher: Evan Gattis, Braves (6th in home runs)
  • First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers (4th in RBI)
  • First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (1st in OPS, 1st in RBI, 3rd in OBP, 5th in average)
  • Second Base: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (5th in OBP)
  • Shortstop: Jean Segura, Brewers (2nd in batting average, 2nd in steal)
  • Shortstop: Everth Cabrera, Padres (1st in steals, 3rd in SS OBP, Padres’ lone representative)
  • Third Base: David Wright, Mets (1st in OPS among NL third basemen)
  • Outfield: Domonic Brown, Phillies (1st in home runs, 4th in RBI)
  • Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (2nd in home runs, 3rd in OPS)
  • Outfield: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (4th in home runs)
  • Outfield: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds (2nd in OBP, 7th in OPS)
  • Outfield: Carlos Gomez, Brewers (6th in OPS)
A.J. Burnett Pirates
Burnett could become the Pirates’ first NL strikeout king since Bob Veale in 1964. (Photo credit: David Hague)

Starting Pitchers

  • Shelby Miller, Cardinals (1st in ERA, 6th in strikeouts)
  • Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (2nd in ERA, 2nd in WHIP, 5th in strikeouts)
  • Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks (1st in wins, 3rd in ERA)
  • Matt Harvey, Mets (1st in WHIP, 3rd in strikeouts, 4th in ERA)
  • A.J. Burnett, Pirates (1st in strikeouts)
  • Jeff Samardzija, Cubs (2nd in strikeouts, Cubs’ only representative)
  • Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (2nd in wins, 4th in strikeouts)
  • Lance Lynn, Cardinals (2nd in wins, 6th in strikeouts)
  • Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (Marlins’ lone representative)

Relief Pitchers

  • Aroldis Champan, Reds (1st in relief strikeouts, 4th in saves)
  • Jason Grilli, Pirates (1st in saves, 2nd in closer ERA, 2nd in relief strikeouts)
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies (3rd in closer ERA)
  • Craig Kimbrel, Braves (2nd in saves)
Russell Martin Catching
Russell Martin is a three-time All-Star (Photo credit: David Hague)

What other Pirates are All-Star possibilities?

  • Russell Martin, Catcher

Martin is currently 4th among NL catchers in OPS, behind Gattis, Posey and Molina and 4th in OBP behind Posey, Molina and A.J. Ellis. The offensive numbers are right on the fringe of All-Star status, and a few more homers in June could push him up. If managers and players are impressed by Martin’s throwing out a strong 43% of runners and think he has had a positive effect on the Pirates’ pitching staff, he may slide in behind Molina and Posey as the third catcher.

  • Andrew McCutchen, Outfield

His hitting numbers are just below the other reserves I chose, but his 14 stolen bases are 4th in the NL and his fresh Gold Glove award could help him onto the team. Remember that McCutchen has always played well in June, and a summer surge could make him a lock for the team. Whether he makes it or not could be a referendum on his “star” reputation in the game, where some below-career-average offensive stats are overlooked for a guy that was an All-Star and received MVP votes last year.

  • Starling Marte, Outfield
Starling Marte Pirates
Marte has been among the league’s best left fielders. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates’ left fielder cooled off (.676 OPS in May) with some BABIP regression after a hot start (.395 OBP, .872 OPS in April). Hitting some baseballs out could help his résumé, as he only has five home runs. But factors in his favor are 15 stolen bases (2nd in the National League) and his growing reputation as a left fielder with football-field range and an arm that keeps third-base coaches conservative with their baserunners.

  • Jeff Locke, Starting Pitcher

Yes, I still think Locke is due to regress: 4.13 FIP, 4.20 xFIP, 4.48 SIERA, .239 BABIP, 86% strand rate, tougher schedule, I could do this all day, folks. Fact is, Locke’s 2.25 ERA is 5th in the National League, and all he needs to do is keep the magic going for four, maybe five starts to get enough players who only look at ERA and Wins to put the checkmark next to Locke’s name.

  • Mark Melancon, Relief Pitcher

It is not usual for non-closer relievers to make the All-Star team, but if Melancon can maintain his ERA below 1.00 for the next month with a lot of innings, he might have a chance to go to Citi Field as one of the last relief pitchers, a Final Vote choice or an injury replacement.

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