I will select 25 players and do my best to select a member from each ballcub-although I am not going to leave out a deserving candidate to fulfill this requirement. I will ensure that not only are specific position requirements met, but also that the most viable lineup is put together. Over at Baseball Musings, David Pinto has a formula which does much of the work, so I will have to give him credit, where credit is due.So here they are...
National League Starting Lineup
SS - Jose Reyes
CF - Nate McLouth
1B - Lance Berkman
3B - Chipper Jones
DH - Albert Pujols
LF - Pat Burrell
2B - Dan Uggla
C - Ryan Doumit
RF - Ryan Ludwick
In similar fashion to the American League, David Pinto suggests a vastly different lineup to maximize production. According to the analysis, this group of National League players (in a substantially different arrangement), would produce over 7.5 runs per game. However, the analysis does not take into account speed, nor steals. That is, the lineup analysis would be content with a team full of base clogging power hitters. While speed does not have a major impact on the hitter below, it does have enough for me to warrant placing above average hitters in Reyes and McLouth at the top of the lineup, utilizing their speed.
With four switch hitters in the lineup, this lineup could be a nightmare for a left handed starter, while still being effective against righties.
National League Bench
Picking this bench was not as difficult as picking the American League bench. The reason being, some of the players that were picked for the starting lineup were picked based on a specific skill set. That is, I feel Reyes is a more worthy top of the order bat then Ramirez is. Dan Uggla brings a lot of strikeouts, but also an incredible power stroke. In all, I don't feel anyone was truly left off this list that was deserving this season.
Furthermore, let it be known that there are not going to be many defensive substitutions, unlike the American League which is deep in quality defenders. Additionally, this bench features only one left handed bat.
National League Pitching Staff
Starting Pitcher - Tim Lincecum
Imagine the type of season Lincecum would be having if the Giants were a better team? Little Tim leads the National League in both Win Probability Added (WPA) and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). Two very strong indicators of the value he has had to the Giants this season. If I'm the manager of the National League club, I'm telling Lincecum to toe the rubber like a reliever, 'Get me 6-9 outs kid'.
P - Ben Sheets
P - Edinson Volquez
P - Cole Hamels
P - Carlos Zambrano
The list of deserving starting pitchers for the National League is long, too long. Dan Haren, Aaron Cook, Johan Santana, Brandon Webb, Ryan Dempster, Chad Billingsley, and rookie Jair Jurrjens all have had legitimate All Star type seasons.
RP - Hong Chih Kuo
RP - Takashi Saito
RP - Brian Wilson
RP - Kerry Wood
CL - Brad Lidge
In retrospect, eliminating two relievers (Wilson and Wood) and adding two starters may have been preferable to the direction I choose. However, with the aforementioned list of starters, it would have been equally as difficult to pick only two deserving starters.
National League Legitimate Snubs
The aforementioned starters - Each one proposes a legitimate case to making the All Star team. If I were to pick two, they would have been Aaron Cook and Chad Billingsley.
For Cook, he is a workhorse who goes unnoticed because half of his starts are at Coors Field-although there is an argument to be made that Coors Field actually helps Cook.
Had Billingsley not started the season by getting thumped in 3 of his first 4 starts, we are talking about a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Additionally, despite having a rather high walk rate, Billingsley throws a fair amount of strikes, I haven't checked out his Pitch F/X data to see what kind of swing and miss statistics he has, but clearly he is doing something right.
Taylor Buchholz - Similar to JP Howell for the American League, Buchholz has been extremely impressive. The ex-starter seems to have found a place in the bullpen and in Colorado.
Carlos Lee - Simply put, Lee is one of many great left fielders in the National League. Unfortunately there are too many who are having a better season then Lee.
Derek Lee - Surprisingly, National League first basemen are having fairly disappointing showings to this point. Lee isn't doing anything spectacular, and because of that, is on the outside looking in.
Geovanny Soto - Considering the outstanding statistical season Soto is having, he is doing very little for the Cubs to help them win. His WPA sits at .35 and sits 7th in the National League among catchers. Russell Martin, on the other hand, has a very legitimate beef as he is blowing away the competition in terms of WPA.
Utilizing David Pinto's Lineup Analysis tool, the ideal lineup for National League hitters would have, as mentioned, provided over 7.5 runs. The American League would have put up slightly under 7 runs. While the forecaster does not take into account pitching, park factors, speed, etc, I feel as though the National League has a superior squad.
Which leads to the debate, should the All Star Game count?