Sunday, June 1, 2014

10 Players Who Should Make Their First All Star Team

Angel Pagan, Giants

Pagan started his career as a part-time player with the Cubs in 2006, and didn't become a starter until 2010 with the Mets. Pagan was traded to the Giants after the 2011 season and played a big role in their championship season in 2012.  Last season, Pagan was limited to 77 games, which was a major reason for their disappointing 2013. Healthy this season, Pagan is off to the best start of his career. The Giants leadoff hitter is third in the National League with a .325 average this year. Pagan has also stole 11 bases and played terrific defense for the team that leads the majors in wins.

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox

Before Jose Abreu, the White Sox imported Ramirez from Cuba in 2008. Since joining the team, he has been one of the American League's better shortstops. Ramirez has won a Silver Slugger and is a good defensive player. Despite all of this, he has never made a All Star team. This season, his .329 average, 7 home runs, 36 RBI's, and 11 stolen bases should put him on the team.

Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers

Choo has been one of baseball's best kept secrets. Last season, Choo had an on base percentage of .423 and perennially among the league leaders in that category. Choo isn't great at any one aspect of baseball, but is good at every aspect. The Rangers gave Choo a 7-year deal this past offseason.

Johnny Cueto, Reds

This pitcher earned the wrath of Cardinals fans after he kicked Cardinals backup catcher Jason LaRue in the back of the head during a 2010 brawl. However, Cueto has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the past few years. Cueto finished fourth in the 2012 National League Cy Young Award voting. Injuries limited Cueto to only 60 innings in 2013, but was still selected by then Reds manager Dusty Baker to start in Cincinnati's wild card playoff game. This year, Cueto leads the NL in
WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts.

Kyle Lohse, Brewers

Early in his career, Lohse was a very inconsistent pitcher. He would have moments of brilliance, but didn't know how to pitch. After signing with the Cardinals in 2008, Dave Duncan turned Lohse's career around. He won 15 games that year, and was given a four year deal with the Cardinals. The first two seasons were mired by injury. Since 2011, Lohse has became a way better pitcher. Lohse has a career 4.30 ERA, but hasn't had a ERA higher than 3.39 since 2011. In his second season with Milwaukee, Lohse is 7-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA.

Josh Donaldson, Athletics

The Athletics had no idea that Donaldson would become the player he is today when they acquired him from the Cubs in 2008 in the Rich Harden trade. Last season, Donaldson finished 4th in American League MVP voting. Donaldson is the best hitter on the American League's best offense. The Athletics have had only 3 All Stars the last two seasons despite winning the division both years. This year, they should have several players on the team, and Donaldson is currently ahead in the All Star voting.

Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

Puig plays with a lot of flair, but he has been one of the league's best players this season. Puig is second in the National League with a .344 average, has a .436 OBP, 11 home runs, and 40 RBI's. He has shown no signs of having a sophomore slump.

Michael Wacha, Cardinals

It is hard to believe that Wacha was drafted only 2 years ago. Since debuting with the Cardinals a year ago, Wacha had a brilliant postseason in 2013. Wacha won 4 games in the playoffs and the NLCS MVP. This season, he ranks 8th in ERA, 7th in WHIP, and 7th in strikeouts. It looks like the Cardinals hit it big on one of their compensation picks for losing Albert Pujols.

Koji Uehara, Red Sox

During 2013, Joel Hanrahan started the year as Boston's closer before he got injured. Andrew Bailey replaced Hanrahan, then got injured himself shortly thereafter. Uehara was the third closer and he went on a historic run after taking over the role. Uehara closed 21 games, posted a 1.09 ERA and a miniscule 0.56 WHIP. He went on to save 7 games in the postseason. Uehara has been just as dominant in 2014.

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees

Tanaka has lived up to the hype so far this season. Tanaka dominated Japan last year, going 24-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA. He hasn't had a perfect record in the American League, but is 8-1. Tanaka also leads the AL in ERA and WHIP. The Yankees spent a lot of money to get Tanaka, but where would they be without him? He has solidified a rotation that's dealt with injuries to CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.

Other Candidates

Jonathon Lucroy, Brewers
Sonny Gray, Athletics
Brian Dozier, Twins
Michael Brantley, Indians
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Neil Walker, Pirates

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