I apologize for my absence from my blog. I have been sidetracked with school, sports and teenage laziness. It’s time for the A-Z all-star team. This list highlights the first half of the alphabet with the best player representing each letter. For the 26 letters I will pick: 6 pitchers, 10 infielders and 10 outfielders. (All players are active).
(A) Elvis Andrus, TEX. He may not be the most powerful shortstop but Andrus provides that burst of energy that a recently offensively struggling Texas needs. He is still young at 24-years of age and has been to two all-star games. Elvis is a career .272 hitter and usually leads off in the batting order. Andrus has over 130 stolen bases and over 215 RBI in his career. Be sure to get to your seat early when your team is playing Texas, he leads off with a bang. (Honorable mentions: Jose Altuve, Alex Avila, Bronson Arroyo)
(B) Ryan Braun, MIL. The face of the franchise now in Milwaukee. Ever since Prince Fielder left Wisconsin, Braun has taken over as the leader but may be lacking some support on the lineup. The 29-year-old left fielder has over 200 homers and 675 RBI in his career. The career .304 batter has nothing salivating about his numbers in 2013. Braun maintains his headlining plays but Carlos Gomez is not a suitable man to protect Braun in the order. (Honorable mentions: Jose Bautista, Madison Bumgarner, Mark Buehrle)
(C) Miguel Cabrera, DET. Everyone’s pick would be Miggy for this category. He is just unbelievable. Cabrera is top 5 in the MLB in HR, AVG, RBI, Hits, Runs and Doubles. He had an all-star spot locked up before the season began and this years numbers are just the cherry on top. A whopping .320 hitter with over 340 HR and over 1190 RBI. Cabrera and Fielder are still the #1 three, four duo in baseball. The 10 year veteran is playing his best baseball ever. (Honorable mentions: Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Cain)
(D) Yu Darvish, TEX. There’s no sophomore slump in this guys repertoire. Darvish has been striking guys out like there’s no tomorrow. Yu is averaging 11.99 K/9 and leads the second place leader in strikeouts by 21! Darvish has more than double wins then losses in his career. Darvish’s lowest amount of K’s this year was 5 and he has 5 double-digit strikeout games. I know a strikeout is not the only way to get a batter out but those numbers are spectacular and I wish Yu the best on his 300 K’s quest. (Honorable mentions: Chris Davis, R.A. Dickey, Adam Dunn)
(E) Edwin Encarnacion, TOR. Edwin may not be the first player that comes to mind when you say “home run”, but he has 60 homers over the past 2 seasons and there is still lots to come. Encarnacion broke out last year when he exploded for 42 bombs. That was 16 more than his previous high. Edwin can play 1st, 3rd, LF or DH. Him and Bautista keep the home runs coming north of the border. (Honorable mentions: Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier)
(F) Prince Fielder, DET. I can’t pick Miguel and then not pick Prince. But lucky for me I had the stats to prove it. Fielder has shown the high average side to his game since signing with Detroit. His average rose 14 points in 2012 from his 2011 AVG. When he gets on base, Cabrera can drive him in. Prince has had 6 straight 30+ HR seasons to go along with 7 straight 80+ RBI seasons. Fielder has over 270 career homers and over 815 RBI. Prince should continue to hit sky-high home runs and make sky-high amounts. (Honorable mentions: Freddie Freeman, Dexter Fowler)
(G) Paul Goldschmidt, ARZ. This is the perfect example of a well-developed prospect I would want in my lineup everyday. Drafted 246th in 2009, according to ESPN, Goldschmidt weighs just 30 lbs. less than Prince Fielder. Mmmhmm. He hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves due to the low media franchise but Goldy is 4th in homers among all first baseman (15). He also has hit .286 for his career and those numbers are on the rise thanks to the hot start to this season. The Delaware native sounds more like a tractor salesman than a baseball player, but I would take any tractor seller who can hit over .300. (Honorable mentions: Curtis Granderson, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez)
(H) Bryce Harper, WSH. When he first entered the league I wasn’t drooling over is play or his attitude but as all players do, they grow on you. Why would I put Harper on this list? Well, that’s a clown question bro. Harper, still only 20-years-old, has the right amount of swagger that all young players need. His hot start has recently been slowed down due to some nagging injuries but still has put together 12 home runs in just 44 games played. When he hits a homer, he really hits one. Harper is known for his powerful swings and his quick trots around the bases after it. Washington doesn’t care how long he takes around the base path as long as that ball leaves the park. (Honorable mentions: Matt Harvey, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay)
(I) Omar Infante, DET. These older infielders have never received the credit they deserve due to them being overshadowed by Fielder and Cabrera at 1st and 3rd. But Infante and double play partner Jhonny Peralta have been great so far in 2013. Infante is always a good bet to deliver that clutch hit or be the person to breakup the no-hitter. Omar hasn’t hit below .250 since 2005 and is usually good for around 8 homers a year. The second baseman is smooth on his fielding and throwing as only 1 out of the 6 positions he has played does he have a fielding% below .950. Infante is a good leader and hitter and should set a good example for younger players making their ways to the bigs. (Honorable mentions: Chris Iannetta, Raul Ibanez)
(J) Jim Johnson, BAL. Jim Johnson, certainly not the most notable closer, nor will he ever be. But in Baltimore he is doing the job better than anyone could ask for. 51 saves for the relatively new closer in 2012 and 24/26 so far this season. Jim had a brutal major league debut in 2006 as a starter. He lasted just 3.0 innings and gave up 8 ER. He got a regular job in the bullpen in 2008 and never had more than 10 saves until last year. Baltimore is lucky to have this 5th round pick closing for them. Johnson led the league in saves and played in his first all-star game. If Johnson can hold down the fort in the 9th than the young squad could be looking to a possible playoff spot. (Honorable mentions: Derek Jeter, Adam Jones, Josh Johnson)
(K) Clayton Kershaw, LAD. It seems that this kid and Adrian Gonzalez are the only bright spots on the Dodgers at the moment. Nothing seems to be going the LA’s way. I guess those hundreds of millions of dollars that the team spent hasn’t paid off just yet. Clayton has a miniscule 1.84 ERA which leads the NL. Compare that to his 5-4 record and you can see how the Dodgers have struggled. They can’t get this guy more wins when he is giving up just 1, 2, 3 runs a game. Kershaw is only 25-years old and looks like he’s been playing in the bigs since he was five. Clayton needs run support from the offensively lacking squad. Although his Cy Young, Gold Glove, 2 All-Star appearances and 2x ERA champ look good, these achievements can’t win your team baseball games. (Honorable mentions: Ian Kinsler, Matt Kemp, Paul Konerko)
(L) Evan Longoria, TB. Evan Longoria has the potential to be one of the best players in all of baseball. He has been stopped by long injuries preventing from showing his talent. Tampa Bay is not known for their power or extreme offense but with Longoria in the lineup, there is always a home run threat. Longo is in his 5th season but has never hit more than 33 dingers. He easily has the capability for 40+ with a healthy year. He has won several awards in Tampa and with his ability, he should win several more. A handsome guy who has helped his ball club to 3 postseason appearances. (Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee)
(M) Andrew McCutchen, PIT. Here is the true poster boy for 5 tool player. Cutch is batting .296 with 7 HR. This is considered struggling to cutch. Most guys would be delighted with these numbers but Cutch has so much more to show. He broke out in 2012 with 31 long flies and 96 homers. McCutchen would make any fantasy lineup look perfect. He provides that boost to the team that Pittsburgh would be seriously lacking without. Andrew sports those long dreadlocks and looks good doing it. He is dedicated to his a team and has won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and the NL Most Outstanding Player in 2012. Andrew is a career .291 hitter and only 26-years-old. There’s plenty down the road for this youngster.