Quick rules on how I comprise the teams:
- Two teams, one American League team, and one National League team
- There are 36 spots on each team (three first basemen, three second basemen, three third basemen, three shortstops, nine outfielders, three catchers, six starting pitchers, four relief pitchers/closers, one relief pitcher/set-up, and one DH-the NL spot is taken by the player with the highest average who did not make the team at any position)
- Every team gets a representative. No exceptions. If a player gets snubbed by a guy who is only there because a team needed a rep, then that's sadly the way it goes.
Why start with the bullpens?
Because it's relatively simple. The top four guys with the most saves are automatically on the teams. Usually.
Last year, I started with the American League staff, this time, I'll begin the National League closers. On this year's team are:
- John Axford, Brewers (2-2, 1.95, 46 saves)
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves (4-3, 2.10, 46 saves)
- J. J. Putz, Diamondbacks (2-2, 2.17, 45 saves)
- Heath Bell, Padres (3-4, 2.44, 43 saves)
The American League closers for the 2011 team are:
- Jose Valverde, Tigers (2-4, 2.24, 49 saves out of 49 opportunities)
- Mariano Rivera, Yankees (1-2, 1.91, 44 saves)
- Brandon League, Mariners (1-5, 2.79, 37 saves)
- Neftali Feliz, Rangers (2-3, 2.74, 32 saves)
If recent All-Star Game history has shown us, it's that middle relief pitchers, those guys who ride the bullpen, and barely ever get any baseball cards, are now an important part of any All-Star bullpen. And the two middle relievers this year not only made their respective league's All-Star roster, but got to pitch in the game.
The NL Middle Reliever for the 2011 team will be the Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals. He is the 2011 NL leader in holds with 38, had a 3-0 record, sports a dazzling 1.83 ERA, a minuscule 0.84 WHIP, and struck out 104 batters. He beats out fellow NL All-Star Johnny Venters for the middle relief
The AL Middle Reliever for the 2011 team will be David Robertson of the New York Yankees. The AL co-leader in holds in 2009 with 34, Robertson went 4-0 this year with a 1.08 ERA and 100 strikeouts. The runner up for this spot was the other AL holds leader, Daniel Bard.
So right now, we've named the bullpens for each team. Who will fill out the rest of the rosters?
On Thursday, I will name the six starting pitchers that will round out the pitching staffs on each team.
By Friday, every team will get a representative as I announce just some of the players who will take spots on both leagues' rosters.
And finally on Saturday, I will round out the rest of the rosters and introduce the complete National and American League teams.
Wait and see. It's going to look good I promise.