Yesterday, we gave you our picks for the American League All-Star team, with the promise that we would bring justice to a process that often produces mistakes.
Now, it’s time for the National League.
Just as with the AL, we’ll follow the All-Star Game’s roster-construction rules — 34 players, including at least one from every team — while weighing both 2018 performance and prior track record. Here goes nothing:
C — J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
1B — Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
2B — Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
3B — Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
SS — Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
OF — Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
OF — Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves
OF — Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets
DH — Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Unlike in the AL, where most of the starting picks were straight-forward, the NL is somewhat of a mess. Catcher and first base are easy choices, with J.T. Realmuto and Freddie Freeman enjoying terrific seasons, and second base pretty clearly belongs to out-of-nowhere slugger Scooter Gennett. But Nolan Arenado only barely edges Kris Bryant and Eugenio Suarez at third base, and Brandon Crawford is a toss-up with Trea Turner at short.
In the outfield, Cain and Markakis are tough to argue with, while the final spot comes down to the thoroughly surprising Brandon Nimmo and the flashy Odubel Herrera. Herrera has the greater track record, but Nimmo’s stats (.283/.403/.571 for an NL-best 168 wRC+) win out in the end.
Votto gets the nod at DH as a reward for being the best player who failed to otherwise crack the lineup.
C — Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates
1B — Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
1B — Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
2B — Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
2B — Javy Baez, Chicago Cubs
SS — Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
3B — Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
3B — Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
OF — Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
OF — Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF — Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
If only every position were as stacked as first base in the NL is. Even with Freeman and Votto both in the starting lineup, there’s still not enough room for everyone. We’ll go with old standby Paul Goldschmidt and breakout star Brandon Belt, to the exclusion of the impressive Jesus Aguilar (sorry, Brewers fans).
In general, the NL is loaded with infielders but light on outfielders, so for the bench we’re doubling up on exciting second basemen (Ozzie Albies and Javy Baez) and slugging third basemen (Bryant and Suarez), while also bringing along the aforementioned Turner. Herrera snags a reserve outfield spot, with the resurgent Matt Kemp and the ever-sturdy Christian Yelich grabbing the final two.
We’re tempted to include Bryce Harper, since he’s one of the game’s most famous players and would be competing in front of his home fans in Washington D.C., but the numbers simply aren’t there.
SP — Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (starter)
SP — Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
SP — Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
SP — Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
SP — Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves
SP — Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals
SP — Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
SP — Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies
Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom are just on another level this season. Last week we named deGrom the Cy Young front-runner, but now we’re reversing course and giving Scherzer the edge as All-Star starter. Either way, there is no wrong answer.
But those two NL East hurlers aren’t the only ones having impressive seasons in the senior circuit. There’s Aaron Nola, the ace-in-the-making who has burst out in 2018. There’s Patrick Corbin, who surged to a blazing start this year. There’s Mike Foltynewicz, who has seemingly figured things out at age 26. And Miles Mikolas, the lone Cardinals representative, who has befuddled major leaguers after pitching the last three seasons in Japan. Don’t forget Jon Lester, seeking his fifth All-Star berth. And finally, Kyle Freeland, whose park-adjusted ERA+ (133) tells a better story than his altitude-inflated 3.55 ERA.
Overall, this is not as starry a group as the AL has, but it’s a strong one nonetheless.
RP — Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
RP — Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies
RP — Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
RP — Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
RP — Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
The NL features more than a few relievers having filthy years. Josh Hader has struck out more than half the batters he has faced while pitching in an old-school fireman role. Adam Ottavino has allowed three earned runs all season, striking out 54 batters in 34 1/3 innings. Sean Doolittle has been arguably baseball’s best closer, with 21 saves and a 1.60 ERA. Kenley Jansen has overcome a slow start to pitch like Kenley Jansen again. And even if Kirby Yates feels like the type of All-Star who will regress as soon as the game passes, his 0.84 ERA is no joke — and the Padres needed a representative.
So there you have it: 34 players representing all 15 NL teams. We’ve got four Braves, three Nationals, three Cubs, three Brewers and, somehow, three Reds.
Be sure to also check out our AL All-Star team right here.