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The Major League Baseball All-Star game is approaching and it is time to look at who should be on the roster. With the best record and the best run differential in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals figure to be well represented at the midsummer classic. This is an analysis of which Cardinal position players should make the team, with a look at the pitchers coming later in the week.
Allen Craig, First Base – Craig leads the team with 58 RBIs and is hitting an absurd .453 with runners in scoring position, according to MLB.com. Unfortunately for Craig the National League leader in RBIs, Paul Goldschmidt for Arizona, and the league leader in on-base percentage, Joey Votto of the Reds are both first basemen. Both Goldschmidt and Votto are ahead of Craig in fan voting, so the Cardinal will probably not be named the starter. Still, Craig should be selected to the all-star roster for his work as the cleanup hitter for the league’s best offense.
Matt Carpenter, Second Base – Carpenter has been a revelation in his first year at second base. Defensively, he has made the transition from a corner infielder to second base smoothly. Carpenter has also seized the leadoff spot in the Cardinals’ lineup by posting a .322 batting average and .403 on-base percentage, both numbers among the league leaders. His discipline at the plate has been impressive and the Cardinals offense has been a machine since Carpenter was moved to the leadoff spot. Additionally Carpenter has been a savvy on the base paths, scoring 56 runs so far, also among the league leaders. Carpenter is currently behind the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and the Giants’ Marco Scutaro in fan voting. Although the Cards’ second basemen is not far behind them, and gaining, it is unlikely that the relatively unknown Carpenter will pass Phillips and Scutaro, who are both fan favorites. Phillips has an impressive RBI total, but a poor on-base percentage while Scutaro’s only outstanding stat is his batting average. Carpenter has been the most dynamic second baseman in the league, sporting the most runs scored, best on-base percentage and best slugging percentage at the position in the NL according to MLB.com. Carpenter deserves to be picked as the starter, but likely will have to settle for merely a selection to the team. He should be picked as an all-star for the first time at the very least.
Carlos Beltran, Outfield – Beltran is off to another great start in this his second year with the Redbirds. Beltran already has 17 homers, sixth in the league, and has been hitting over .300 for the season. The outfield is loaded in the National League this year, so it is debatable if Beltran deserves to start the game. However he leads the voting by a wide margin, so the veteran will likely be awarded with an all-star game start. Regardless, there is no argument; Beltran deserves to be selected to the roster. The Cardinals’ other star outfielder, Matt Holliday, is currently sixth in the fan voting among outfielders. But with the Colorado Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez having an outstanding year, and the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez, and the Phillies’ Domonic Brown having career years, there are a number of possible selections from the outfield. The Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer, the Reds’ Jay Bruce, and the Giants’ Hunter Pence are all having solid years as well, so Matt Holliday’s mediocre season should not be rewarded with an all-star selection.
Yadier Molina, Catcher – Molina’s staggering improvement throughout his career continues, as this may be his best season yet. He is leading the league in hitting with a .353 batting average, an unbelievable stat for a catcher mostly known for his leadership and defense. Molina is also leading the league in doubles, although his home run pace is down from last year. The five time gold glove winner is playing his usual outstanding defense, and even garnering MVP chatter. His main competitor at the catcher spot is last year’s MVP, the Giants’ Buster Posey. However, Posey, still a terrific player, is not having the same kind of season that he had last year. Molina is also revered for the way he handles a pitching staff, and while that sort of thing is difficult to measure, nearly every pitcher on the Cardinals’ staff (which has a league-best earned run average) gives significant credit themselves to Molina’s presence behind the plate. When the best defensive catcher also has the best on-base percentage and the best slugging percentage in the league from that position, he deserves to start the all-star game, and that is the case with Yadi.