But I digress.
If you want to know what the heck I'm talking about and why I have created All-Star Teams for both leagues since I was 12 years old, please review the introduction and brief history (ahem...brief???) as to why I have done this every year for the past 25 years.
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:
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves (4-3, 1.20, 50 saves)
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds (4-5, 2.54, 38 saves)
- Sergio Romo, Giants (5-8, 2.54, 38 saves)
- Edward Mujica, Cardinals (2-1, 2.78, 37 saves)
The American League closers for the 2013 team are:
- Jim Johnson, Orioles (3-8, 2.94, 50 saves)
- Greg Holland, Royals (2-1, 1.21, 47 saves)
- Mariano Rivera, Yankees (6-2, 2.11, 44 saves)
- Joe Nathan, Rangers (6-2, 1.39, 43 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. So many great pitching performances this year by so many different players, it's just so hard to choose just one player to fill this spot. But one spot is available on both sides for a middle reliever. And this year, the pitchers selected have been in this situation before, named to the 2011 teams in fact.
The NL Middle Reliever for the 2013 team will be the Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals. He is the 2013 NL leader in holds with 33, had a 6-3 record, sports a dazzling 2.41 ERA, a minuscule 0.86 WHIP, and struck out 73 batters. He beats out NL All-Star Mark Melancon of the Pirates (3-2, 1.39 ERA, 70 K's, 0.96 WHIP, 71.0 IP, 26 holds), who filled in amicably for Grilli after the All-Star Break (16 saves in 21 opportunities), and Luis Avilan of the Atlanta Braves (5-0, 1.52 ERA, 38 K's, 0.95 WHIP, 65 IP, 27 holds).
The AL Middle Reliever for the 2013 team will be David Robertson of the New York Yankees. Although he finished second in the AL in holds in 2013 with 33, Robertson went 5-1 this year with a 2.04 ERA, 77 strikeouts, and a 1.04 WHIP. Others considered include Rays pitcher Joel Peralta (3-8, 3.41 ERA, 74 K's, 1.14 WHIP, 71.1 IP, MLB leading 44 holds), and Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers (6-2, 1.88 ERA, 59 K's, 1.07 WHIP, 76.2 IP, 27 holds).
So right now, we've named the bullpens for each team. Who will fill out the rest of the rosters?
On Wednesday, I will name the six starting pitchers that will round out the pitching staffs on each team.
By Thursday, 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 Friday, 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.