Last week, Dan put up a post with his pre-season all-AL West team. Matthew, in the comments, alluded to the lack of star power in the division. When you look at the list Dan has assembled (which I think is pretty accurate, especially the first team) the amount of stars on the team are a bit underwhelming.
With that in mind, I thought I’d compare Dan’s list to the best players in the AL East (which is the strongest division in my opinion). These are all my opinions and I’ve based them on prior season stats, sabermetrics, and potential. I choose to just assemble a first team for both divisions because the topic is star power, not depth.
AL West: Kendry Morales, LAA
AL East: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
The Winner: Gonzalez (AL East)
Overview: I’m pretty high on Morales, I think he is vastly underrated, but Adrian Gonzalez is one of the top players in the game. Gonzalez edges out Teixeira for the 1st baseman in his division. Teixeira would be a first teamer in the AL West.
AL West: Ian Kinsler, TEX
AL East: Robinson Cano, NYY
The Winner: Cano (AL East)
Overview: This one’s a fairly obvious choice also. Kinsler is a good player, and is an all-star when completely healthy, but Cano is the best 2nd baseman in the league (edging out Utley). Cano posted a 6.4 WAR in 2010 (he hit .319 with 29 homers while playing decent defense). Kinsler can post similar offensive numbers when healthy but he’s only played over 130 games once in his career. Cano has played 159 or more the last 4 seasons. Maybe in a couple years we’ll be seeing how Ackley stacks up against Cano. Here’s to hoping. A healthy Pedroia enters into this conversation, also.
AL West: Elvis Andrus, TEX
AL East: Yunel Escobar, TOR
The Winner: Andrus (AL West)
Overview: I might take some heat for putting Escobar over Jeter but I put him there because Jeter is one of the worst defensive short-stops in the league, while Escobar is pretty sharp. The AL East is pretty weak at short-stop and Andrus wins this one easily, based on potential alone. Both Escobar and Jeter put up WAR’s in the 2’s last year and Andrus put up a WAR of 1.5. But, if I had to choose one of those 3 players to be on my team this year, I’d take Andrus without question. His bat will continue to get better, while his defense is superb (unless he has a Yuniesky-type flop). J.J. Hardy could also sneak into the picture for the East.
AL West: Adrian Beltre, TEX
AL East: Evan Longoria, TB
The Winner: Longoria (AL East)
Overview: The East shows their dominance in this position. They have Longoria (a top-5 player in the league), A-Rod (a future hall-of-famer, who’s put up at least 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s each of the last 7 seasons), and Kevin Youkilis (who’s more annoying than A-Rod, but just as effective) who each have a strong case to be picked over Beltre. I love Adrian, he’s one of my favorite players in baseball, but Longoria wins this one easily.
The rest of the positions after the jump. Outfield
AL West: Josh Hamilton (TEX), Nelson Cruz (TEX), Ichiro (SEA)
AL East: Carl Crawford (BOS), B.J. Upton (TB), Jose Bautista (TOR)
The Winners: Hamilton (AL West), Crawford (AL East), Ichiro (AL West)
Overview: This one’s a little bit tough. I think Hamilton is on this list easily. He’s one of the top-5 players in the game, even with his nagging health issues. Crawford seems to be the second best of this group. He put up a 6.9 WAR last year, and his year wasn’t considered a breakout year like Bautista. Of course, Bautista (who I put in the outfield instead of 3rd base because he’s played more games in the outfield) would be in the top 3 if he has another year like last year, but I don’t see that happening. Cruz would be up there, but is derailed by injuries too often. Upton has all the potential in the world but is coming off a tough year. So, I went with Ichiro because he’s so consistent. He has never suffered a serious injury and has been one of the most consistent players of this generation.
AL West: Kurt Suzuki, OAK
AL East: Matt Wieters, BAL
The Winner: Kurt Suzuki (AL West)
Overview: Suzuki wins this one because he’s sneaky productive and one of the most underrated catchers in this game. Wieters is the first Oriole to crack the list, so way to go Baltimore! If Wieters was to fulfill his potential then he’d be the winner of this but he’s not there yet.
AL West: Felix Hernandez (SEA), Jared Weaver (LAA), Dan Haren (LAA), C.J. Wilson (TEX), and Brett Anderson (OAK)
AL East: David Price (TB), C.C. Sabathia (NYY), Jon Lester (BOS), Clay Buchholz (BOS), and Josh Beckett (BOS)
The Winners: Felix (AL West), David Price (AL East), C.C. Sabathia (AL East), Jared Weaver (AL West), and Jon Lester (AL East)
Overview: The rotation is pretty tricky. The AL East has some stars and the top of the rotation but lacks the overall depth that the AL West has in their division. With that being said this is about star power, so the AL East edges out the West here. Felix, Price and Sabathia are no-brainers. After taking a step forward last year, Weaver seems to be a top-notch ace. I think Lester, Buchholz and Beckett beat out the rest of the west, so it was just a matter of picking one. I just picked Lester because he’s their ace, but I think Buchholz is just as good of a bet.
AL West: Neftali Feliz, TEX
AL East: Mariano Rivera, NYY
The Winner: Rivera (AL East)
Overview: Plain and simple, Feliz would have to have 15 more seasons like he did last year to catch up with Rivera. That gives Rivera the edge. He’s probably the best closer of all time so he’ll win this battle at least for this year. Also, Feliz may end up switching to the rotation.
I’m going to leave off the other categories that Dan included simply because I don’t know as much about the AL East teams as I do the West.
Summary: There are 14 positions open on this 2-division all-star team. The AL East won, but it was closer than I thought it’d be at 8-6. The most questionable positions I feel are shortstop and the last outfield spot and I gave the AL West the nod in both of them. With that being said, maybe the star power for the AL West isn’t as lacking as we thought it’d be. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the depth and guys that were left off the list (like Teixeira, A-Rod, and Jeter). The East is also full of guys who are aging but household names (Ortiz, Posada, and Varitek). The West doesn’t have that as much, which might make it feel like it’s less likely. Feel free to debate any of these or even my picks for the AL East.
Thanks for reading!