A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the players who should not be voted (or selected) to an All-Star spot in the American and National Leagues, among those who had previously been an all-star. Today, we will turn it around and look at players at each position who have never made an All-Star team previously, but should receive strong consideration if they keep it going for the next month. We start with the National League and will cover the American League tomorrow, because MLB released a list of the early leaders in voting in the National League yesterday afternoon.
C: Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks (.280, .360, .458). Buster Posey was leading the All-Star voting before his injury. Even with Posey out, Montero is not getting All-Star consideration, but his offensive numbers and caught stealing numbers are in line with Brian McCann and Yadier Molina, while the Diamondbacks have now moved into first place in the NL West.
1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (.322, .401, .520). Sanchez is a big reason that the Marlins are in a wild card position and only 2 games behind the Phillies entering June. He has virtually no chance of being voted in, but could be a manager’s selection. The position is loaded, though, as Pujols and Votto will be in for sure, and then likely Prince Fielder.
2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers (.288, .363, .489). Weeks has never made an All-Star team, but that should change in 2011, as he is 2nd in voting behind Brandon Phillips, and leads all second basemen in OPS and could overtake Phillips with enough support.
SS: Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks (.280, .366, .429). Troy Tulowitzki is going to be the leading vote getter, and Jose Reyes is the clear cut choice at SS even if his owner disagrees. That probably means Drew is going to get squeezed, but he is fifth in voting and is having a very good season for the emerging Diamondbacks.
3B: Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks (.274, .385, .466). Yet another Diamondback on the list (I’ll probably take a closer look at this team leading the West this week). Placido Polanco is leading the NL Voting by default, ahead of Chipper Jones. Roberts wouldn’t ordinarily be in consideration, as a 30 year old utility guy who has mostly played third, but in 2011, why not? He’s got as good a claim as anyone.
LF: Logan Morrison, Marlins (.320, .406, .574). Okay, the young star born in a great city (and who followed Albert Pujols to Maple Woods Community College) has no chance playing behind both Matt Holliday and Ryan Braun, who are deservedly in the top 3 in voting in 2011. But he is definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future, and could get in the conversation for a final reserve spot.
CF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers (.312, .389, .556). While Ethier has made the news with a hitting streak and a finger, Kemp has been steadily putting up big numbers in an otherwise disastrous year at Chavez Ravine. The All-Star voting doesn’t distinguish between outfield positions, so we will probably have three corner outfielders voted in. Kemp should be the first choice among centerfielders, and should be an easy managerial selection.
RF: Jay Bruce, Reds (.293, .357, .572). Bruce has a league leading 16 home runs. Berkman will get the starting nod, but Jay Bruce should absolutely be the first outfield selection for a corner position.
SP: Jair Jurrjens, Braves (7-1, 1.51 ERA), Anibal Sanchez, Marlins (5-1, 2.57 ERA), Kyle Lohse, Cardinals (7-2, 2.13 ERA), Clayton Kershaw (6-3, 2.62 ERA). You can go ahead and write in Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Josh Johnson for starting spots. You can probably add another Phillies starter. After that, any of these guys will be in contention for selection. Jurrjens leads the NL right now in ERA, while his lower K rate makes me think that won’t continue, he should still be on the short list to pitch early in the All-Star game. Lohse, at age 32, is just the next in a long line of Duncan reclamation projects. Kershaw is 2nd behind Halladay in strikeouts, and both Kershaw and Sanchez are over a strikeout per inning.
RP: Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (14 saves, 1.46 ERA), Fernando Salas (10 saves, 1.52 ERA). Hanrahan (no Fletch jokes please) and Salas have both emerged to stabilize the Pirates and the Cardinals bullpens. Ryan Franklin may want the closer role back, but there’s no reason to go away from “Tossed Salas”, and if he remains perfect, he could find himself pitching in the Summer Classic.
[photo via Getty]