Quick rules on how I comprise the teams:
- Two teams, one National League League team, and one American 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 usually guaranteed automatic spots on the teams. Emphasis on the word 'usually' though.
Last year, I started with the National League staff. This time, I'll begin with the American League. The closers on this year's AL team are:
- Jim Johnson, Orioles (2-1, 2.49, 51 saves)
- Fernando Rodney, Rays (2-2, 0.60, 48 saves)
- Rafael Soriano, Yankees (2-1, 2.26, 42 saves)
- Joe Nathan, Rangers (3-5, 2.80, 37 saves)
The National League closers for the 2012 team are:
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves (3-1, 1.01, 42 saves)
- Jason Motte, Cardinals (4-5, 2.75, 42 saves)
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds (5-5, 1.51, 38 saves)
- Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies (5-6, 2.44, 38 saves)
The AL Middle Reliever for the 2012 team will be Ryan Cook of the Athletics. While he isn't the 2012 AL leader in holds (that would be Joel Peralta of the Rays with 37 while Cook has 21), Cook has the advantage in batting average against (Cook .166, Peralta .200), ERA (Cook 2.09, Peralta 3.63), a better record (Cook 6-2, Peralta 2-6) and WHIP of (Cook 0.94, Peralta 0.99). He even went to the All-Star Game. Others considered for this role were Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers, David Robertson of the Yankees, Mike Adams of the Rangers, and Matt Thornton of the White Sox.
Choosing the NL Middle Reliever for the 2012 team was a lot tougher as the competition was fierce. But in the end, I am choosing Mitchell Boggs of the Cardinals. He finished the year with 34 holds, which was good for the lead in the NL, but also went 4-1 with an ERA of 2.21 while striking out 58 (his WHIP was a low 1.05). The competition for the one middle relief spot came from Pirates reliever Jason Grilli, Francisco Rodriguez of the Brewers, and Sergio Romo of the Giants.
So right now, we've named the bullpens for each team. Who will fill out the rest of the rosters?
On Friday, I will name the six starting pitchers that will round out the pitching staffs on each team.
By Saturday, 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 Sunday, 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.