Usually by July 4th you get a good feel for how the baseball season is shaping up. By then, many of the players are getting into their mid season form and many teams are falling into place.
Preparing for the stretch run usually happens after the All-Star Break. Teams jockey to finalize any rosters and also hunt tirelessly for trades to improve their weaknesses. Plenty of talk in the coming weeks will arise about trade rumors, proposed trades and all the players that are possibly and possibly NOT on the market.
Through all the escalating baseball mumbo jumbo I have decided to sit at my SportsRantz.com desk in the SportsRantz Office and mark this as a good halfway point in the season.
Sure, this halfway point is well ahead of what others would recognize as the season’s halfway point, but it’s the early bird who gets the work as they say.
So allow me to sound the imaginary drum roll in each of your sports-clogged minds as I unveil my roster for the All-SportsRantz Team Version 1.0.
Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
.303 avg, 10 hr, 45 rbi
Never heard of him? You will. Avila has paced the Tigers with a great campaign thus far behind the plate. His .303 average and .373 on base percentage is one heck of an asset to receive from your catcher. At only 24 years of age he has nowhere to go but up.
Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
.361 avg, 16 hr, 71 rbi
Who can deny the stellar season Gonzalez has been having in Beantown? Nobody. Perhaps the perfect trade for Boston to make in the offseason, Gonzalez has found a more productive home in Boston than in San Diego. A great park for him and a solid lineup has provided Gonzalez the boost he needed. His play at First Base has been nothing less than great as well.
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
.290 avg, 14 hr, 48 rbi
This was a tough toss up between Cano and Pedroia. But Cano’s .502 slugging percentage is phenomenal and impossible to ignore. Considering this is considered a “down year” for Cano just shows you how good he truly is. Another deciding factor is Cano’s proficiency in the field. 99% proficiency and the 2nd best Range Factor in the Majors.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets
.341 avg, 3 hr, 32 rbi
Jose Reyes wants his money and is playing like a Man on Fire in his contract year. It’s not a surprise that Reyes will be on the trading block soon. It’s also a foregone conclusion his days as a Met are numbered. A shame Reyes couldn’t reach this plateau when the Mets really needed it. Helluva season!
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
.300 avg, 13 hr, 51 rbi
So many of you may be bashing my Yankee Homerism here. But I have good reasoning why A-Rod gets this slot. His hits have been in clutch situations this year, an indicator he is now one of the Yankees primary clutch hitters. Rodriguez also has a robust .513 slugging percentage and has improved almost all of his offensive numbers from 2010. As always, A-Rod has been in the Top 10 in Fielding as well (#8)
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
.308 avg, 16 hr, 59 rbi
Braun has been quite the force in Milwaukee. Paired with Prince Fielder they have combined to be quite the offensive force for the Brewers this year. A .390 on base percentage and a hefty .554 slugging percentage have elevated Braun to our Left Field slot on the team.
Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
.276 avg, 21 hrs, 55 rbi
Where would the Yankees be if it were not for Curtis Granderson. Granderson has been a completely different player since reinventing his swing with Yankee Hitting Coach Kevin Long at the end of 2010. This season Granderson has been the most consistent and deadly Yankee hitter in the lineup. His usual struggles against lefties has become a sort of strength for the power hitting Granderson who already has 6 triples this season.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
.325 avg, 23 hr, 48 rbi
The Major Leagues Home Run League Leader (currently tied at 1st with Teixeira) Bautista has been the lone offensive surge in Toronto. After breaking out with a monster 2010 campaign, Bautista has followed that up with an equally dominant 2011. A .655 slugging percentage and a .468 on base percentage has the Majors on notice.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
.247 avg, 23 hr, 58 rbi
Sure we could have put DH David Ortiz here but we opted to go with a player who can fill in at 1st base as well. I was never too enamored with DH All-Star spots anyways. Teixeira is tied with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the MLB Lead in Home Runs but Teixiera has been another consistent force in the Yankee lineup.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
2.38 ERA, 10-3 record
Who else could take this slot other than Verlander? Sure there are players who have a lower ERA but Verlander is tied for the MLB Lead in Wins and also has a ridiculous 0.84 WHIP which is tops. He is also 2nd in the Majors in Strikeouts (124) and #1 in Innings pitched. Not to mention he threw a No hitter and almost tossed 2 more.
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
1.78 ERA, 20 saves
Who else would you put here than the great Mariano Rivera? Nobody. His ERA is under 2 yet again and his WHIP is 0.99. When it comes to closing out a game, especially in a pressure situation, you wouldn’t put anyone other than Rivera on the mound. He will remain on this team until any of that changes, which I don’t see ever happening.