clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Which league's starting All-Star lineup would you rather have?

You can pick the National League or American League starting All-Star lineup for your favorite team. Which one do you choose?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The starters for the All-Star Game were announced, and Omar Infante did not make the cut. This is both aesthetically pleasing and secretly disappointing. A little chaos could do the All-Star Game right. Instead, there are just a bunch of productive players, bright young stars and all-time greats in the starting lineups. Ugh. Fine, whatever.

Instead of pretending like we're upset or thrilled with the All-Star lineups, though, let's use hypothetical scenarios to invent an alternate universe. The GM of your favorite team was given a Game Genie for the entire universe. Put in a code, change the world. Except, the GM has just two codes: One code will replace his starting lineup with the American League's starting lineup. The other one will replace it with the National League's lineup.

Pick one.

Contracts count in this scenario. You still have to cobble together a pitching staff. Also, to make it equitable, we're going to pretend the DH doesn't exist, like most red-blooded, freedom-loving Americans do. Sorry Nelson Cruz. A National League team just wouldn't know what to do with you.

The arguments for each:

The case for the American League

Start with the salaries.

C - Salvador Perez, 25, $16.75 million through 2019
1B - Miguel Cabrera, 32, $240 million through 2023
2B - Jose Altuve, 25, $20.5 million through 2019
SS - Alcides Escobar, 28, $11.75 million through 2017
3B - Josh Donaldson, 29, approximately $34 million through 2018
OF - Mike Trout, 23, $138 million through 2020
OF - Lorenzo Cain, 29, approximately $16 million through 2017
OF - Alex Gordon, 31, player option for $12.5 million that he probably declines

Even with Cabrera's immense contract, that's about $90 million in average salaries for the next couple years -- closer to $100 million with Gordon's option. That's ... not bad. Not bad at all. That's something a rich team could certainly afford. Thank you, ridiculous Salvador Perez contract.

So now we have the pros of this team:

  • Salvador Perez's ridiculous contract
  • The relative youth and low cost of Altuve
  • The relative youth and low cost of Donaldson
  • An all-time legend and future Hall of Famer in Cabrera
  • Mike Trout
  • Mike Trout
  • Mike Trout
  • Mike Trout
  • Mike Trout
  • Mike Trout

Don't forget that Mike Trout is on the American League team, too. That would be a fine player to Game Genie onto your favorite team. But there are some cons to this choice, too.

  • Gordon will probably leave after this season
  • Cabrera will make $32 million when he's 40
  • Escobar is a nice player, but not exactly a building block, like some other All-Stars

If you could pull a lever and have all eight players on your favorite team, you would pull it before the end of this sentence. But you're not comparing them to your team. You're comparing them to the National League, which means it's time to make ...

The case for the National League

C - Buster Posey, 28, $130 million through 2021
1B - Paul Goldschmidt, 27, $40 million through 2019
2B - Dee Gordon, 27, approximately $20 million through 2018
SS - Jhonny Peralta, 33, $22.5 million through 2017
3B - Todd Frazier, 29, approximately $24 million through 2017
OF - Giancarlo Stanton, 25, $318.5 million through 2028
OF - Bryce Harper, 22, approximately $35 million through 2018
OF - Matt Holliday, 35, $18 million through 2016

That's about $115.75 million in average salaries per year, though Holliday and Peralta come off the books soon. This roster is a little more expensive than the AL's roster. Your GM has a Game Genie, but the owner of your team still operates under normal financial conditions, so you'll have to take all this into account.

The pros of taking the NL:

  • Paul Goldschmidt's contract is an underrated steal
  • Buster Posey is good at baseball
  • Relative youth except for the two Cardinals
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper
  • Bryce Harper

Remember when we used to compare Trout and Harper, and then when we used to laugh about how we used to compare Trout and Harper? This is me laughing at us laughing at us comparing Trout and Harper. Looks like I used a boring ol' All-Star article to sneak in another "TROUT OR HARPER?" comment, and you rubes all fell for it.

There are some cons, too.

  • Holliday is older and creakier, and he's easily the weakest defensive link
  • Gordon can't have a .399 BABIP forever, right?
  • Frazier is outstanding, but he won't be around that long
  • Stanton's contract is absolutely gluttonous if he doesn't opt-out after 2020

Since the start of 2014, the American League starting eight has combined for 68.3 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. That's an absurd average of 8.5 wins for each player over the last season-and-a-half. The National League has combined for 63.8 wins, for an average of 8.0 wins for each player since 2014. That's depressed by Harper's down year, though, when he was worth just a win above replacement.

Miguel Cabrera has a goofy contract. Giancarlo Stanton has an even goofier contract. The AL has Mike Trout making superstar money for five years. The NL has Bryce Harper making below-market rates for three. Buster Posey is perhaps the best catcher in the league, but he's going to make scores of millions when he's not. Salvador Perez is a very, very good catcher almost making backup-catcher money. The National League is more expensive and a little less productive, according to WAR, but they also have a guaranteed third outfielder next season.

If the Cardinals fans weren't so productive, Andrew McCutchen could have joined Harper and Stanton, making this something of a runaway. As is, it's close, so very close.

I take the National League, but only because I'm used to Buster Posey and don't want to spend a week twitching while I go through detox. There isn't a lot of logic behind it, other than Posey and watching Harper and Stanton for the next few years.

There's a poll. There's also a comments section in which you people can yell at each other. If you could take either the AL or NL starting lineup for your favorite team, which one would you take? Tick tock, tick tock.