On July 12th in the biggest event of the summer, the best lineup in the NL will be well represented. The Cubs will become the first team since the 1963 Cardinals to have four starting infielders in an All-Star game.
Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell will all be starting in the infield, while outfielder Dexter Fowler will be joining them in the starting lineup. Although the starting pitcher has yet to be announced the Cubs have two of the three frontrunners for that position as well, Jake Arieta and John Lester.
Now for the entire starting lineup:
C Buster Posey, Giants
.289 Ave, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 48 Runs
The 29 year old backstop is in line to once again return to the Midsummer classic. Now a four time All-Star, the former MVP and ROY will be the only representation for the NL West in the starting lineup for manager Terry Collins. Although Wilson Ramos is having a much better statistical year, Posey is still the consensus pick for the best catcher in baseball. The All-Star game is a place where you want a mix of young talent and proven stars, although he is still in his prime, Posey is arguably the most experienced and seasoned player in this lineup.
1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
.281 Ave, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 50 Runs
The second half of Bryzo, the best one-two punch in baseball, Anthony Rizzo is one of the Cubs who truly earned his way into this lineup. He has outperformed his competition in the form of Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt, and has turned himself into one of the top 4 first basemen in the game of baseball.
2B Ben Zobrist, Cubs
.291 Ave, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 55 Runs
Zobrist is no doubt worthy of being an All-star this year, he has performed beyond expectation for the Cubs this season. A true rarity in baseball, he can play literally anywhere on the diamond, switch hit, hit for both average and occasional power, be a table setter, and drive runners in. However, the fans got this one wrong, Daniel Murphy of the Nationals is hitting an NL best .349 going into play today, that’s second in all of baseball. He was edged out of a starting spot by a mere 88 fan votes and it’s a shame that a guy having a season as special as Murphy’s won’t be starting the All-Star game. This is nothing against Zobrist as he is a fantastic player and worthy of being on the team, but the numbers speak for themselves, Murphy has just been better.
SS Addison Russell, Cubs
.242 Ave, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 34 Runs
Out of all the Cubs in this lineup Russell is clearly the strong outlier in the group. He is not having that great of a season. The 22 year old should start an All-Star game at some point in his career, somewhere down the line when he is developed enough and worthy of it. This is not that year. Corey Seager is the same age as Russell, in his rookie year for the Dodgers, but is hitting .304 Ave, 17 HR, 41 RBI, 58 Runs, and he is starting on the bench.
Trevor Story is a 23 year old rookie on the Rockies and is hitting .259 Ave, 19 HR, 50 RBI, 47 Runs and he didn’t even make the team. He is a final vote candidate. Aledmys Diaz of the Cardinals is in his rookie year at age 25, hitting .314 Ave, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 53 Runs, and he’s not even on the team. Russell is not a superstar having a down year (Bryce Harper), he is a kid who is performing at league average, at best he is the 4th best shortstop in the NL, there is no reason he should be starting this game and this is where the fans got it 100% wrong.
Speaking only based on statistics, any of the aforementioned shortstops would be a better choice than Russell. All criticism aside, it isn’t Russell fault he’s starting this game, it’s the fans’ fault for picking the wrong shortstop.
3B Kris Bryant, Cubs
.278 Ave, 25 HR, 64 RBI, 68 Runs
The words “sophomore slump” don’t apply to the reigning NL Rookie of The Year. Bryant is arguably the NL MVP of the first half of the season and leading the MLB with 25 homeruns. He has been moved all over the diamond this year for defensive purposes and the Cubs surplus of position players. Bryant’s biggest competition was Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, who is also having an MVP first half. Arenado will presumably get the nod at DH for the NL squad, but that hasn’t been announced yet. Both Bryant and Arenado are exceptionally talented and if they keep on their current paces it wouldn’t be surprising to see them both retire with an MVP plaque or two.
OF Bryce Harper, Nationals
.258 Ave, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 47 Runs
As I alluded to in the Addison Russell section, Bryce Harper is a superstar having a down year. That being said, fans still want to see him in the All-Star game, and rightfully so. Along with Mike Trout, Harper is a once in a generation talent and deserves to be on the field in San Diego. Him not leading his team in pretty much all major statistical categories didn’t help his case this year, but he’s Bryce Harper and made for the bright lights.
OF Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
.304 Ave, 21 HR, 51 RBI, 46 Runs
If there is one player who loves the big stage more than Harper, its Cespedes. The Cuban sensation has been electric for the Mets since they traded for him last year. As the reigning NL champs, the Mets should have representation in the starting lineup and Cespedes is the man for the job. Having already won 2 home run derbies, and now a 2 time All-Star, Cespedes is one of the true superstar outfielders in baseball right now.
OF Dexter Fowler, Cubs
.290 Ave, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 41 Runs
Fowler was having an All-Star worthy season as the leadoff man for the Cubs. He is currently on the 15 day DL with a hamstring strain so odds indicate that he won’t even be able to play in the game and even if he is healed up the Cubs may not want him to risk re-injuring his hamstring. That being said, Terry Collins could always move Cespedes to center and then replace Fowler with one of the four outfielders on his bench, presumably Carlos Gonzalez or Marcel Ozuna, both of which are having excellent years. Fowler’s replacement may come down to whether the AL starts a left handed or right handed pitcher.
DH Arenado (speculation, the DH hasn’t been announced yet)
Fowler (assuming he plays)
Starting pitcher (speculation)
Maddison Bumgarner, Giants
120.2 IP, 9-4 record, 2.09 ERA, 132 K, 31 BB, 1.02 WHIP
The best option to start the game would be Clayton Kershaw but he in on the DL and will not be able to participate. Some would argue that Jake Arietta would be the best replacement for Kershaw but I disagree. Mad Bum has more strikeouts and a lower ERA. Also with the Cubs already dominating the entire infield and Giants catcher Buster Posey behind the plate, from a fan standpoint, having the Cub infield with the Giants battery would be a great experience.
C Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
C Wilson Ramos, Nationals
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
1B Wil Myers, Padres
2B Daniel Murphy, Nationals
SS Corey Seager, Dodgers
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies
IF Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF Odubel Herrera, Phillies
OF Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
OF Adam Duvall, Reds
RHP Jake Arrieta, Cubs
LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants
RHP Johnny Cueto, Giants
RHP Jose Fernandez, Marlins
LHP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (injured, will be replaced)
LHP Jon Lester, Cubs
RHP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
RHP Noah Syndergaard, Mets
RHP Julio Teheran, Braves
RHP Jeurys Familia, Mets
RHP Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
RHP Mark Melancon, Pirates
RHP A.J. Ramos, Marlins
RHP Fernando Rodney, Padres/Marlins