With the introduction of the 2014 bdj610's End of the Year All-Star Teams, it will be the 26th straight season that I've been creating these imaginary teams. How significant is this? Let's put it this way. Twenty-nine MLB teams have made the playoffs since I first started this back in 1988. The final team, the Royals, just made the playoffs for the first time since 1985. And by the way they're playing, they'll be really hard to beat.
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 26 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 National League staff, this time, I'll begin the American League closers. On this year's team are:
- Fernando Rodney, Mariners (1-6, 2.85, 48 saves)
- Greg Holland, Royals (1-3, 1.44, 46 saves)
- David Robertson, Yankees (4-5, 3.08, 39 saves)
- Zach Britton, Orioles (3-2, 1.65, 37 saves)
The National League closers for the 2014 team are:
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves (0-3, 1.61, 47 saves)
- Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals (2-6, 3.20, 45 saves)
- Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (2-3, 2.76, 44 saves)
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds (0-3, 2.00, 36 saves, 0.83 WHIP)
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. When all was said and done though, the two players I selected were more than qualified to make it onto the respective teams.
The AL Middle Reliever for the 2014 team is Wade Davis of the Royals. He led the AL in holds with 33, earned an impressive 9-2 record (which means that he was able to hold the opposing team down just before the Royals would mount one of their famous comebacks), an ERA of 1.00, struck out 109 batters, and achieved a 0.85 WHIP. Opposing batters could only muster a .151 batting average against him. The only other person who was considered was Yankees' All-Star Dellin Betances (5-0, 1.50 ERA, 135 K's, 1.09 WHIP, .149 BAA, 22 holds).
The NL Middle Reliever for the 2014 team is the Pirates' Tony Watson. His 34 holds were good for second in the NL, but a 10-2 record (which also means that he kept opposing teams down before his Bucs would rally), along with a 1.63 ERA, 81 strikeouts, and a 1.02 WHIP was more than enough to get him added as the middle reliever. Others in consideration for this spot include Tyler Clippard of the Nationals (7-4, 2.18 ERA, 82 K's, 40 holds), and Pat Neshek of the Cardinals (7-2, 1.87, 68 K's, 0.79 WHIP, 25 holds).
So right now, we've named the bullpens for each team. Who will fill out the rest of the rosters? Tomorrow, I will name the six starting pitchers that will round out the pitching staffs on each team.
By Wednesday, 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 Thursday, I will round out the rest of the rosters and introduce the complete American and National League teams.
Wait and see. It's going to look good I promise.