The 2008 MLB season has been the stuff of baseball lore.
We had the meteoric rise and subsequent collapse of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the emergence of the surging, take-no-prisoners Tampa Bay Rays.
We woke up in late June to find the Yankees in last place and the Rays in first place.
We witnessed the late arrival of a bona fide superstar (Josh Hamilton), and the early arrival of another one (Evan Longoria), as well as a plethora of over hyped rookie pitchers (Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Jeff Niemann).
We've seen relatively unknown players morph into stars (Nate McLouth, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Ludwick, Edinson Volquez, Justin Duchscherer), the rise of the two bagger (Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips, B.J. Upton, Brian Roberts, Dustin Pedroia) and the fall of the shortstop (cricket chirp).
We've watched Lance Berkman and Utley positively tear the cover off the ball and enjoyed Chipper Jones' pursuit of history as he attempts to become the first player to hit .400 since Ted Williams almost seventy years ago.
At the turn, here are my picks for the AL 2008 All-Stars. I stuck to the premise that every team should have a representative and the bench must be able to field a player at each position.
C – Joe Mauer, MIN: A bit over hyped, but as consistent as they come at the plate
1B – Kevin Youkilis, BOS: “The Youk” having his best offensive season to go along with his already stellar defense
2B – Ian Kinsler, TEX: Surprise, surprise! Kinsler looks to be for real. He's on pace for 120 R, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 50 SB, and a .330 average
3B – Alex Rodriguez, NYY: Will be tough for anyone but Madonna to move him from this spot
SS – Michael Young, TEX: A prime example of the position’s anorexia
LF – Carlos Quentin, CHW: Castoff no more, Quentin, who was traded by Arizona for a bag of sweaty jockstraps in the offseason, is the offensive leader of the first place Sox.
CF – Josh Hamilton, TEX: Hamilton’s story will make a great movie one day. I’m rooting for him.
RF – Ichiro Suzuki, SEA: The incumbent.
DH - Jermaine Dye, CHW: Still got some thing left in the tank. 100 R, 40 HR, 100 RBI pace.
C – Kurt Suzuki, OAK: Leads all catchers in plate appearances and his defense is solid
1B – Justin Morneau, MIN: Former MVP setting the table for a 90 R, 25 HR, 120 RBI season
2B – Placido Polanco, DET: A hitting machine—hit .340 in the month of June with 39 hits
3B – Evan Longoria, TAM: Well deserving rookie stud has shown flashes of brilliance with the leather and the bat
SS – Derek Jeter, NYY: Here on the strength of his leadership and the weakness of the SS position
OF – Grady Sizemore, CLE: Not hitting for average, but doing everything else
OF – Carl Crawford, TAM: When Crawford is the elder statesmen on your team, you could be in good shape for many years to come
OF – B.J. Upton, TAM: The less hyped Upton brother is the spark plug for the first place Rays. Already has 25 SB in his campaign for the 30/30 club
OF – Milton Bradley, TEX: Swinging the bat like a psychopath. He's hitting .320 and is on pace for 100 R, 35 HR, and 100 RBI
Starter – Roy Halladay, TOR: The best pitcher in the AL gets the nod with his 106 K, 2.90 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP
SP – Cliff Lee, CLE: Midnight eludes the Cinderella man through July. Has the chance to win the Cy Young via his 11-1 record and 2.26 ERA
SP – Rich Harden, OAK: In 72 innings – 5-0, 88 K, 2.25 ERA, and 1.10 WHIP. Imagine if he can stay healthy the entire season
SP – Justin Duchscherer, OAK: Who? The man with the unpronounceable name leads the league with a 1.91 ERA in 85 innings of work
SP – Felix Hernandez, SEA: King Felix finally silencing the critics with his 2.83 ERA and 96 K
SP – Josh Beckett, BOS: The best pitcher on the second best team in baseball deserves a spot on the All-Star squad
SP – Scott Kazmir, TAM: The best pitcher on the best team in baseball deserves a spot on the All-Star squad
SP – Joe Saunders, ANA: Saunders tied for the league lead in wins with 12 and a tidy 3.04 ERA to match
RP – Dan Wheeler, TAM: Leads the league with 20 holds for the first place Rays.
RP – Joakim Soria, KAN: Kansas City needed a rep., and nobody is more deserving than Soria
RP – George Sherrill, BAL: See above
SU – Jonathan Papelbon, BOS: Continuing his dominant ways
SU – Mariano Rivera, NYY: Mariano of old has been unhittable this year with 22 SV, 42 K, and a 0.98 ERA in 37 innings of work
CL – Francisco Rodriguez, ANA: League leader in saves has almost as many himself (34) as the rest of the AL West (41)