On Monday, you were notified that SB Nation had determined the only correct All-Star ballot for the 2016 American League All-Star team. This was the culmination of months of research, and almost all of you immediately used this information to vote for the only correct All-Star ballot. Thank you for your commitment.
Today, it’s time for the only correct All-Star ballot for the 2016 National League All-Star team. This is an even more important task, as the American League is filled with hulking men-beasts who don’t even play in the field, which means the National League is more important by definition.
To the NL All-Star roster!
|NL catchers||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
[takes off glasses]
Listen, Cardinals fans. I get that there isn’t another fan base that has to deal with a generalized stereotype quite like you guys. Maybe the Red Sox fans for being arrogant, or Giants fans for being arrogant and touchy. Maybe Dodgers fans for arriving late and leaving early. Maybe Yankees fans for existing only in GIF form. But your struggle is real. It’s hard to live up to being the Best Fans in Baseball when the only people who call you that are bitter jokers from the other side of the internet.
You want to be the best fans in baseball. You honestly do. That’s what makes you you.
But you’re just going to have to let this Yadier Molina thing go. He’s not the best catcher in the NL Central this year, much less the National League. He hasn’t hit for about three years now. And while it’s tempting to suggest that he’s an inner circle Hall of Famer who deserves the Hank Aaron/Willie Mays treatment of making every All-Star Game possible while he’s still active, he’s more of a Tim McCarver without the broadcasting career. Which is still excellent! He still needs to earn his All-Star spots, though, so quit stuffing the ballot box, you earnest weirdos.
Also, BUSTER POSEY FOREVER, YADIER MOLINA NEVER. BUSTER RULES, YADIER DROOLS.
Jonathan Lucroy has the best raw stats, but only 11 points of adjusted OPS separates Posey, who makes it up on the defensive side and with his steady body of work. Also, his knowing eyes and reassuring smile.
NL First Baseman
|NL first baseman||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
Paul Goldschmidt was off to a very sleepy start -- at least for him -- while Anthony Rizzo was going bananas. But over the last two months, he’s been incredibly hot, even more so over the last three weeks. Goldschmidt has more three-hit games in the last three weeks than Joey Votto and Albert Pujols have combined this year. He’s the perennial MVP candidate and the best all-around first baseman in baseball.
Goldschmidt in a rout, here.
NL Second Baseman
|NL second baseman||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
Remember when I wrote that column titled, "Everything Daniel Murphy is doing in the postseason is going to carry over to his new team, so someone should pay him $100 million"? I can’t find the link, so you’ll just have to trust me, but, boy, I told you so. Any moron could have seen this coming.
That written, I’m pretty sure that Ben Zobrist is still the better player. I don’t want to dismiss Murphy’s career, which has been quite solid, but Zobrist has been the better player for a long, long time. While a vote for Murphy is completely, 100 percent acceptable, I’m using their respective careers as a tiebreaker.
That and, at the risk of spoilers, without Zobrist, there wouldn’t be a Cub in the starting lineup. That would seem wrong and reactionary, if very satisfying.
|NL shortstop||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
Trevor Story didn’t suffer a maasive decline (note to copy editors: please keep that in), and even though he’s leading the league in strikeouts, he looks like he’ll be a part of these debates for years. Corey Seager has been better, though, especially when you adjust for the difference between Dodger Stadium and Coors Field.
If you don’t understand how two rookies can have different "career value" rankings, it has to do with prospect pedigree. Seager was a top-five prospect in baseball; Story wasn’t. That’s a minor difference, but the little dash of scouting helps reduce the chances of a rookie starter elbowing his way into the picture with a hot two months, only to become a fixture of "Whatever happened to ..." and "11 All-Stars Who Will Make You Giggle When You Remember Them" articles.
I don’t think that will happen to Story, but Seager was supposed to be a star, so I’ll give him one extra bonus point in a discussion about which players are stars.
NL Third Baseman
|NL third baseman||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
That table was put together before Monday night’s three-dinger mayhem from Kris Bryant, so it had to be adjusted. Still, Arenado is roughly the same age as Bryant, but he’s been excellent for much longer. And while Bryant is magnificent defensively, Arenado is the second coming of Brooks Robinson, and that’s not hyperbole.
As for Matt Carpenter ...
[takes off glasses]
Listen, Cardinals fans. I get that ... hold on, no, Carpenter is pretty freaking awesome, and this is the hardest vote in the league. There is no right answer, here, okay? Bryant is defensible, as he’s one of the brightest young stars in the league and he’s having a great year. Carpenter is defensible, as he’s been outstanding for the last few seasons, and he’s having a career year.
Still, I think that Arenado is the better player out of the three. If their contracts were all equal, he’s the player I’d take, so that’s why I’m sticking with him. You might choose Bryant, and that’s fair. There are no wrong answers here, just incorrect All-Star ballots. Like yours.
|NL outfield||Career value||2016 performance||How much I want to watch them||Total|
Really, I’m okay with Giancarlo Stanton in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Bryce Harper in left. Let everyone else sit on the side and watch, because those are the three players that I really want to watch, always and forever. However, I think those three have combined for six hits since the start of May, so we’ll have to dig a little bit for the outfielders having excellent seasons, just to be sure.
Harper’s fast start still gives him the raw numbers, though, and even with the recent struggles, I want to watch the prospect-aged reigning MVP, and I’m not going to feel the slightest bit weird about it. Ryan Braun’s ranking surprised me, but it makes sense the more you think about it. He’s quietly built what might have been a Hall of Fame career, if not for the PED-related unpleasantness, and he’s just as good as he’s ever been. He’s the kind of player who will have eight or nine All-Star appearances by the time he retires, and it will make perfect sense.
Of note: Yoenis Cespedes sure keeps hitting. It’s probably time to consider him a true 30-homer talent instead of a 20-homer guy who got a little froggy last year, and that makes him a pretty special player. The defensive numbers hate him, but we knew that was going to happen. I still want to watch him in a game that features all the stars of Major League Baseball. An "All-Stars Game," if you will.
The final ballot:
C - Buster Posey
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B - Ben Zobrist
SS - Corey Seager
3B - Nolan Arenado
OF - Ryan Braun
OF - Yoenis Cespedes
OF - Bryce Harper
It’s a lineup you would be proud of for decades. That’s why it’s the only correct lineup for the National League. You still have time to vote and spread the word.
Also, cut it the hell out and calm down, Cubs fans.