Believe it or not, the 83rd MLB All-Star Game is officially just 30 days away. As fans continue to stuff the ballot boxes with their personal selections (okay more like scroll and click on their computers via web voting) the experts are chiming in with their picks as well.
And being that the Reds are currently one of six division leaders, one would have to expect that they'd get their fair share of players in the annual Midsummer Classic. Former team general manager and current ESPN.com columnist Jim Bowden recently published his first attempt at predicting the All-Star rosters for both leagues. Three Reds made the list.
First base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
With the departures of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez to the AL the last few years, Votto has separated himself as clearly the best in the NL both offensively and defensively.
Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
He’s developed into the No. 1 starter the Reds were hoping for, harnessing his velocity with better control and command.
Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
If Kimbrel is the best, Chapman is pretty darn close, though. Boasting a fastball that hits the low 100s, Chapman has been dominant. He only allowed his first earned run on June 7.
My only gripe about Bowden's NL picks is that Brandon Phillips isn't one of them. He's second in the league among second basemen in homers (6) and RBI (31) and plays perhaps the best defense of ANY player at ANY position in baseball. I'm also biased because he's bought my dinner twice before, among other things.
Also of note is that Bowden tabbed former Red Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto as a representative from the American League. I think it's safe to say that the Reds wished they still had his bat in the lineup.
Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Toronto Blue Jays
Eleven years ago I traded Rob Bell to the Texas Rangers for Encarnacion and Ruben Mateo. I made the deal with present Rangers general manager Doug Melvin. Trade negotiations dragged on for two months because of his reluctance to give up the 18-year-old Encarnacion. A decade later, Blue Jays fans are seeing why Melvin and I wanted him. Encarnacion, a below average defender at third base, has done a good job adapting to the DH role and been adequate at first base when manager John Farrell puts him there. It might have taken a decade for him to live up to his potential but he’s finally having his breakout season.