Saturday, July 5, 2014

Projecting which Reds players will be named All-Stars


The rosters for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game won't be revealed until Sunday evening. In the meantime, let's take a stab at projecting which Reds players will make the cut for the National League, shall we?

First, let's go over the basics of how the roster for each league is assembled. As you know, the starting lineup for both squads (excluding the starting pitchers) is determined via fan voting. At the time of this writing, it didn't appear like any Reds players would be given a starting nod thanks to the fan vote.

Aside from the elected starters, each league is afforded roughly 25 players to make up the reserves. These are chosen by the managers of each side and through player voting. For those doing the math at home, this equates to a roster of about 34 players who can call themselves All-Stars (plus a few more who take the spots of others who are injured). And please note that each and every MLB team has to have at least one representative for the game. Naturally, this requirement means that the most deserving candidates don't always earn their rightful place in baseball's summer spotlight.

With the logistics of the All-Star Game rosters in mind, the following is a brief overview of which Reds players I think will be chosen to represent the National League. All told, one could argue that as many as six Reds could legitimately take part in the game. But it's more likely that only about three will.

Johnny Cueto - Given his standing in all major pitching categories, a great case could be made that Cueto deserves to start the Midsummer Classic. But this won't likely happen considering the Dominican is currently scheduled to pitch two days before the game. Nonetheless, the right-hander is very deserving of his first career All-Star nod and not even Tony La Russa will be able to deny him of that this go around. Cueto is a lock to be in Minnesota come July 15.

Todd Frazier - What a season the Toddfather is having. The New Jersey native is leading the club (and most league third basemen) in all of the power categories while racking up a modest amount of stolen bases as well. Defensively, he's been steady and his increased leadership role in the clubhouse is evident this year too. If Frazier isn't an All-Star, I think we need to have another look at how we determine All-Stars.

Alfredo Simon - Simon has been the definition of a pleasant surprise. When Simon was tasked with replacing Mat Latos in the rotation while Latos returned from injury, it was only meant to be temporary, and any quality starts received from Simon would be viewed as more than enough. As fate would have it, Simon is currently tied for the league lead in wins and has pitched so well that it forced Cincinnati's hand to option Tony Cingrani to Louisville. Simon has the resume to earn a spot in the game. But will his credentials alone be enough to offset the political nature of picking rosters?

Aroldis Chapman - The Cuban Missile has rebounded nicely from the spring training incident that left spectators fearing the worst about his career. For the most part, Chapman has shown no signs of negative effects and has continued to pitch like the dominating closer we have grown accustomed to. If National League skipper Mike Matheny wants to gain homefield advantage for his league by winning the All-Star Game, having Chapman to turn to would be a nice asset.

Devin Mesoraco - There was a reason why Mesoraco was tabbed as the team's best prospect for awhile. And the former first round pick is finally showing us why this year. After missing some time due to injury, Mesoraco has been nothing short of dangerous with a bat, spraying balls all over the ballpark. Two factors are working against Mesoraco's All-Star Game chances: 1) time missed due to injury and 2) hoping Matheny carries more than two catchers on the National League roster.

Billy Hamilton - Hamilton's numbers aren't outstanding by an stretch of the imagination. But it is fair to say that he's exceeded expectations thus far in his first full season in the big leagues. The speedster is on pace to swipe 70 bags and knock in 60 runs as the team's leadoff hitter. And it doesn't appear like Hamilton has much competition for Rookie of the Year honors right now. Are there other outfielders more deserving to make the All-Star club? Absolutely. But Hamilton's game-changing speed might be enough to earn him a trip to Target Field.

Lastly, how crazy is it to think that Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce won't be among the players selected to play in the game? Each has performed below their career norm this year which could actually be viewed as a positive sign for the Reds. Despite the lack of production from their three stars, the Reds have managed to climb above the .500 mark and keep themselves in the thick of the postseason race. If one, two, or all three can get back to where we know they can be, Cincinnati will be primed for a strong second half run no doubt.

With this in mind, the American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.

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