I released my AL All-Star Ballot about two weeks ago on my site, and yeah, I've been thinking about doing this one for a while, but I've been lazy. Sue me. Before we go into this, I want to reassure everyone that I put my hometown Dodger bias aside for this one.
Stats: Runs/Home Runs/RBI/Steals/Average
My 2010 NL All-Star Ballot
First Base: James Loney (just kidding) Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals. 41/16/52/7/.305
Analysis: Yes, Joey Votto is keeping up with Albert in basically every category this season, maybe even surpassing him in OPS, but the fact remains that Pujols is the most feared hitter in baseball. He has been walked intentionally more times than anyone else in the major leagues, and his BB:K ratio is 55:40. He isn't having his vintage Pujols year, as he's batting a low (for him) .305 with "only" 16 home runs. Baseball fans have come to expect much more than this from him, but that doesn't mean that he's not having an MVP-Caliber year. His glove is still one of the best at first base, and he's seemingly also added a little bit of speed to his game, as evidenced by the seven stolen bases this year. This guy is a lock for another top-5 MVP spot.
Bench: Adrian Gonzalez (SD), Joey Votto (CIN)
Second Base: Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves 54/7/32/3/.331
Analysis: Normally this spot is just kind of an automatic Chase Utley position, but this year not only is he currently injured, but he also has had a bit of a down year, batting .277. Anyway, enough about him. Prado has really come out of nowhere this year to be the current NL batting leader, provide a spark at the top of the Braves' lineup, and pretty much be a swiss army knife-type of player that Bobby Cox can really put anywhere on the infield (although he has yet to play shortstop). He might not run as much as a prototypical second baseman would, but nowadays, if a team can get ANYTHING out of a second-base position, it gives them a very good chance to field a winning team.
Bench: Brandon Phillips (CIN), Rickie Weeks (MIL)
Third Base: David Wright, New York Mets 43/14/61/13/.303
Analysis: He's bounced back nicely from a weird year in which he only hit 10 home runs after averaging around 28 in his previous four years of being in the majors, much to the relief of Mets fans and Wright's fantasy owners alike. He's still striking out at an amazing clip, but it seems like strikeouts are becoming much more accepted as long as the hitter can still hit for average, and that's what he is doing. The only argument I have for him being here instead of Scott Rolen is because of the stolen bases. Rolen has pretty much identical numbers, but trails Wright in RBI and SB. He has hit three more home runs than Wright, but the gap in stolen bases is too wide for three homers to make much of a difference in this argument.
Bench: Scott Rolen (CIN), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins 42/11/46/14/.295
Analysis: Oh, Hanley Ramirez. How you tantalize everyone with your elite talent level yet half-ass it through several games over the course of a regular season. Whenever I see professional athletes walking their way through a season, it frustrates me to no end, especially the ones that are as talented as Ramirez. Earlier this season he was seen missing a ball, kicking it, then jogging towards it, all while the play was very much alive. After seeing that laziness in the field, I can only imagine the apathy he uses when it comes to how he's doing at the plate. However apathetic that may be, he is still the top shortstop in the National League offensively even though he may be getting by on just talent alone. If this guy put forth the hard work to make himself better, he would probably achieve triple crown numbers.
Bench: Jose Reyes (NYM), Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
Catcher: Miguel Olivo, Colorado Rockies 33/11/38/4/.303
Analysis: Yes, he's on my fantasy team in my big league. No, that's not the reason he's my choice for the starting catcher position. Catching is hard to come by, especially in the National League. And although Olivo has pretty much only played every other day, he still deserves a spot on this roster. No other catcher in the NL has more than 11 home runs while hitting .300. None. At this point, the rockies would be better served throwing him at first on his catching days off and getting Todd Helton's corpse a day off. This selection isn't as much a choice as it is an obligation, really.
Bench: Brian McCann (ATL), Yadier Molina (STL); Molina was chosen solely for defensive purposes.
Outfield: Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers 36/12/47/1/.313
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers 48/11/49/11/.303
Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals 46/16/40/8/.276
Analysis: Lots of options in the National League outfield this year, and despite Ethier missing a couple weeks with a knuckle injury, he still gets my vote. He was hitting around .390 before the injury and was red-hot while the Dodgers were killing it. He's only been serviceable since his return, but that's to be relatively expected. However, he should continue to produce, and we're not playing with future numbers anyways, so Ethier gets a spot.
My second vote went to Ryan Braun. He's a legitimate 40/20 guy who will hit for average every year, and right now his power numbers aren't as high as most would like to see, but he's still running and the average is still there, so it's completely plausible that right now his numbers will balloon up sometime in the near future. All of his talents, however, are nowhere near as awesome as his nickname "The Hebrew Hammer". To answer your next question, yes, he is Jewish.
My third vote was a difficult one; I originally had Jason Heyward in this slot, but that was before June started and he fell into his rookie slump that a lot of people were waiting for, so I present to you a little-known but well deserving player in Colby Rasmus. Rasmus currently leads all NL outfielders in OPS and is second in slugging percentage. He has done a nice job protecting Albert Pujols this season, and has had an arguably better year than the other guy in the outfield that the Cardinals just signed to a mammoth contract.
Bench: Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Corey Hart (MIL), Jayson Werth (PHI), Justin Upton (ARI)
The 2010 NL All-Star Starting Lineup
1) Hanley Ramirez SS
2) Martin Prado 2B
3) Albert Pujols 1B
4) Adrian Gonzalez DH
5) David Wright 3B
6) Andre Ethier RF
7) Ryan Braun LF
8) Colby Rasmus CF
9) Miguel Olivo C
Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins 8-3, 1.83 ERA, 107:27 K:BB ratio, 108 IP.
Analysis: Ubaldo Jimenez has been great, no doubt about it. But before we go ahead and automatically give him the starting spot, let's take a look at this guy, who has been better than Jimenez. Right now Josh Johnson has the same ERA as Ubaldo, a higher K:BB ratio, a lower WHIP, and has given up 13 less walks while also owning a higher K/9 than Jimenez. The only thing he doesn't have is a no-hitter, and while that's impressive, should we say that Roy Halladay and Edwin Jackson are better pitchers this season because of their feats? No. The fact is that this guy can bring it day in and day out and is a legitimate ace and as long as he continues to pitch this way, he could be this year's NL Cy-Young Award winner.
Bench: Ubaldo Jimenez (COL), Roy Halladay (PHI), Adam Wainwright (STL), Chris Carpenter (STL), Tim Lincecum (SF), Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Jonathon Broxton (LAD), Luke Gregerson (SD), Billy Wagner (ATL), Carlos Marmol (CHC)
St. Louis Cardinals: 5
Colorado Rockies: 3
Cincinnati Reds: 3
Milwaukee Brewers: 3
Atlanta Braves: 3
New York Mets: 2
Philadelphia Phillies: 2
Washington Nationals: 2
Florida Marlins: 2
Los Angeles Dodgers: 2
San Diego Padres: 2
San Francisco Giants: 1
Arizona Diamondbacks: 1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 1
Chicago Cubs: 1
Houston Astros: 0