National League Lineup for the 2018 All-Star Game

Last week we started our two-part series on the 2018 All-Star game by presenting our starting lineup for the American League.  The response was terrific but the overwhelming question was:  “Where is Xander Bogaerts?”  He’s there, but is riding the bench behind Carlos Correa at third base.  He’s great…Correa turned out to better – and that’s the fun of following prospects.

Today, we move to the National League.  Is it stacked as much as the American League?  You let me know; and in fact, let me know who wins this mythical matchup between 2014 eligible prospects in the 2018 All-Star game.

For those of you new to this series, here’s the exercise:

I decided to put the lineups together for the 2018 All-star game from players who have rookie eligibility (i.e. players in the minor leagues).  Some players will be household names and others will not.  Some will be on their current teams and some will be on new teams.   You might also question…how did he come up with those estimates?  Well, I made them up…but I did so hopefully in a logical and meaningful way.

In the end, I’m trying to answer the question:  “What kind of player could X be in 5-years?”.  To do that, I decided to take a fun (hopefully) approach to answering that basic question.

C:  Austin Hedges – San Diego Padres

In an ESPN interview over the winter, recently retired Yadier Molina was asked who he thought was the best catcher in the league?  His answer:  Austin Hedges.  Coming off winning back-to-back gold glove awards, Hedges makes his second all-star game appearance and his first as a starter.  While experts warned that it would take a while for his offensive game to take shape, it looks like that has happened.  At the break, Austin is batting .276 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI’s for the division leading San Diego Padres.

1B:  Josh Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates

It took a while for Josh Bell to get his career going as multiple knee surgeries caused him to miss time early in his career.  However, when Pittsburgh Pirates manager Joe Maddon made the decision to start Bell at first base to begin the 2017 season, everything fell into place.  He slugged 34 home runs and drove in 122 RBI’s to pace the Pirates to their first title in 38 years.  This year Bell has already hit 20 home runs, driven in 70 runs to go along with his .268 batting average.

2B:  Arismendy Alcantara – Chicago Cubs

Arismendy Alcantara, better known as AA is starting his second straight All-star game.  The switch hitting second baseman has dominated the position since 2016 by averaging 21 home runs and 29 stolen bases while earning his first gold glove last year.  His approach at the plate has also improved and most scouts believe that his first half slash line of .295/.375/.485 is the new baseline.

SS:  Amed Rosario – NY Mets

22-year old Amed Rosario makes his first All-star appearance after Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Alen Hanson had to take a pass on the mid-summer classic due to an oblique strain.  Rosario burst onto the scene last June and clearly has solved the shortstop problem that has faced the Mets since recently retired Jose Reyes laced up the cleats in Queens in 2011.  Rosario’s speed and aggressive play has made him an ideal leadoff hitter.  He’ll bring his .290 average, 28 stolen bases and 60 runs scored to the leadoff position in Tuesday’s big game.

3B: Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs

After fighting through personal problems early in his major league career, Javier Baez has finally let his bat do the talking.   The result is his first All-star appearance as well as leading the Cubs to a tie in the Central Division with the Pirates.  Baez hopes to build on his breakout year where he won the silver slugger award at third; slugged 38 home runs, drove in 106 runs while batting .270.

LF:  Ramiel Tapia – Colorado Rockies

In an epic home run derby battle between Oscar Taveras and Kris Bryant last night, Oscar nudged out his fellow All-star teammate for the victory, but injured his quad in the process and will miss tonight’s All-star game.  Replacing the NL leading vote getter is Colorado Rockies outfielder Ramiel Tapia.  Tapia bursts onto the scene last year in June where he hit seven home runs in his first 15 games.  He cooled off slightly but ended the year with 14 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a .305 average to easily win Rookie of the Year honors.   Colorado Rockies manager, Matt Holiday believes that the sky is the limit for the 24-year-old Dominican with the chance to be one of the top five players in the league.

CF:  Gregory Polanco – Pittsburgh Pirates

After a disappointing rookie season in 2014, Gregory Polanco skipped winter ball and trained with former Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.  Polanco shortened his swing and became even more selective in his approach and has never looked back.  In his second straight starting All-Star appearance, Polanco is building on his 25/35 output in 2017 and is on pace for a 30/30 season while hitting .280.  In fantasy circles, he’s a monster as well – going in the top 3 of all players selected.

RF:  Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs

With a Golden Spikes award on his resume, Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant hopes to add an MVP to his trophy case before his career ends.  After a cup-of-coffee in 2014 at third base, Bryant spent the first half of 2015 re-learning the angles in right-field in the minors before getting the call for good in June of that same year.  He’s been a mainstay in the outfield and a terror to pitchers ever since.  Over the last two years, he’s averaged 32 home runs, 96 RBI’s while batting .272.  However, this year Bryant has really notched it up with 36 home runs, 85 RBI’s and a .310 batting average in the first half.  If he can do 80% of that in the second half, he could very well add that MVP to his trophy case.

SP:  Archie Bradley – Arizona Diamondbacks

Archie Bradley bursts into the Majors in 2014 and easily won the NL Rookie of the Year with an 11-4 record while helping the Diamondbacks to a wildcard showing in the playoffs.  However, the extra mileage on the arm led to a torn UCL and Tommy John Surgery in 2015.  Fully recovered and pitching better than ever, Bradley is back and pitching in his second consecutive All-star game; this time as the National League starter.

SP:  Jonathan Gray – Colorado Rockies

When the Rockies took Jonathan Gray with the third overall pick in the 2013 first year player draft, many people wondered if Gray could navigate the difficult conditions of Coors Field.  After a rocky debut in 2015, Gray started to figure things out the following year and today, makes his second All-star appearance.   The stuff continues to be impressive as Gray leads the league in strikeouts with 132 in 107 innings.  His ERA remains inflated at 3.63 with an xFIP of 2.87.

SP:  Lucas Giolito – Washington Nationals

Lucas Giolito got his Tommy John Surgery out of the way early in his career and has gone on to become the ace of the Washington Nationals.  While Giolito’s still struggles at times with his control, his arsenal can be unhittable.  In fact, his 215 strikeouts led the National League in 2017, despite a 1.32 WHIP.  His performance reminds many of the early profile of Yankees hurler Max Scherzer.  Nationals fans hope that Giolito can eventually repeat Scherzer’s  back-to-back CY Young awards that he won while pitching for the Tigers.  However, they do hope that his career peak is longer as Scherzer is a shell of himself despite the Yankees still owing him $90 million dollars over the next three years.

SP:  Noah Syndergaard – NY Mets

Noah Syndergaard makes his first appearance in the All-star game after posting a terrific 12-1 record for the first place New York Mets.  Syndergaard has been solid since making his debut in the second half of 2014.  However, he was never able to live up to the hype that his prospect status offered.  His career 3.74 ERA and 7.8 strikeout-per-nine has been solid but not spectacular.

SP:  Andrew Heaney – Florida Marlins

Making his third consecutive All-star appearance, Andrew Heaney has given the Marlins a 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup since he made his debut in 2014.  Each year, Heaney gets better and better as his command reminds many of former major leaguer and All-star Cliff Lee.  His 1.32 walks-per-nine was tops in the league in 2017.

MR:  Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals

The pitching university known as the St. Louis Cardinals continues to produce elite pitchers.  The latest graduate is 23-year-old Alexander Reyes.  As with Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, Reyes starts his career off in the pen where his plus-plus fastball and hard curveball combination have baffled hitters.  Cardinals fans and fantasy owners alike hope that Reyes will only spend his first two years in the pen before joining Rosenthal and Martinez in the starting rotation.

CL:  J.R. Graham – Atlanta Braves

J.R. Graham was an effective starting pitcher for the Braves during the 2015 season but when his shoulder started barking midway through the 2016 season, the Braves decided to move him to the pen.  With the move, Graham was able to get an extra grade on his fastball and has become a dominate closer.  While the National League is stacked with elite closers, Graham became an easy addition to the squad with a first half that reads:  26 saves, 1.15 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 51 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched.

26 comments on “National League Lineup for the 2018 All-Star Game

  1. journalistic irresponsibility not to mention the winner of the all star game and home-field advantage .

    oh , wait !
    judging by the caliber of players selected , all star balloting has finally returned to the
    players , and , mercifully , selig must have been deposed .

  2. Richie!!! Please tell me Robert Stephenson had to miss the game due to a “family emergency”, or else he would have been the starter 🙂

  3. In the top of the 9th Rio Ruiz pushes across Taylor Lindsey with a game-tying double off of Graham. However, in the bottom half of the frame, Jorge Soler catches up to a Hunter Harvey fastball and puts it in the right field seats for an exciting walk-off win. All Manuel Margot, who had entered the game as a defensive replacement as part of a double switch, can do is turn and watch the ball fly over his head.

  4. Great articles Rich! As a Dynasty player, they were right up my alley!

  5. fun article!

  6. Did you create a bench for either roster, since you have Bogaerts on the bench? Great reads!

  7. Darn, no yelich huh

  8. Also nice to see two NY Mets on the roster for their home All-star game!

  9. Great read. That was fun! I think you’re jumping the gun a bit on Holliday tho

    • Yeah I know…he might be destined for broadcast booth.

      Part of throwing in so many former player references throughout both articles is to highlight how quickly things can change in the league. If you play in a Dynasty League, you really see this; particularly with pitching.

      For instance, in 2009, the starting pitchers were Halladay for the AL (which is really interesting) and Tim Lincecum for the NL. Aaron Hill and Michael Young were in the starting lineup for the AL. Utley, Ibanez,and Victorino started for the NL. Felix, Greinke (in the AL), Justin Upton (in the NL), Ryan Zimmerman all made their first all-star appearance.

      If Bradley, Baez, Polanco all do what we think they’ll do, Felix, Greinke, Zimmerman’s will all be on the backside of their career and likely will not be all-stars; although Felix will only be 33.

      The bottom line is that things change and if you are in a Dynasty league, they change before your eyes and you have to think about the future at all times.

  10. OH-NO….how long is Tavares gonna be out?????

    Great reading…..loved both versions!

  11. This is great!

    What were the personal problems that Baez had to deal with? Do you think Tapia could be a top-5 player in the league in his prime, or is that simply Matt Holliday hyping up his young player? Kris Bryant is on pace to hit 70 home runs?!?

    • The reason I wrote what I did about both players is that there has always been talk of Baez being an “all about me player”, so I wanted to point that out without getting into any specifics.

      Tapia is a huge lottery pick and the Rockies SS and LowA are extreme hitters parks, so it’ll be tough to go by stats alone. However, Tapia has the tools, including the bat speed to be a special player and I could see a Top 50 ranking next year.

      I modeled Bryant’s production after what Chris Davis did in 2013 as I believe he’s got that type of power. With some BABIP help, he could see a first half average like Davis saw as well.

  12. Not a fan of the Bradley comment, lol. Everything else is great!

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