|It's Hanley versus J-Roll at short.
The current NL All-Star balloting totals are out, and it looks like shortstop and the third outfielder may be the only spots still up for grabs. So, with still six weeks left to go before the Midsummer Classic, let's try to guess the NL roster.
Starter: Yadier Molina
Backups: Brian McCann, Bengie Molina
Yadier has a 157,000-vote lead over Jason Kendall and is more than 200,000 votes up on McCann, so it certainly seems as though he'll be the choice. At least he's a strong enough defender that it's not such an embarrassing pick. McCann will surely be picked as a backup. Jesus Flores and Carlos Ruiz have been the next most productive catchers, but they've both logged DL time, as has Chris Iannetta. Bengie Molina's big RBI total will make him a strong candidate, though with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum around, it's doubtful that he'd have to make the team as the Giants' lone rep.
Starter: Albert Pujols
Backups: Adrian Gonzalez
Pujols had to settle for a backup role behind Lance Berkman last year, but he's easily the NL's leading vote-getter so far this year and he's a full 700,000 votes up on Prince Fielder at first base. With 20 homers already, Gonzalez is practically assured of a bench spot. Joey Votto seemed like the best choice for a third first baseman, but since he's on the shelf, Ryan Howard and Fielder are in the mix if another is taken. Also, Jorge Cantu is a possibility if the Marlins need a rep and neither Hanley Ramirez nor Josh Johnson is taken.
Starter: Chase Utley
Backups: Orlando Hudson, Freddy Sanchez
It should work out that there is room for five middle infielders. I'm going with three second basemen and two shortstops, though it could easily work out the other way. Utley, who is second to Pujols in the overall voting, is a lock to start, and Hudson would seem to have the obvious edge on the backup job. I'm picking Sanchez over Brandon Phillips here, making him the lone Pirate on the squad.
Starter: David Wright
Backups: Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones
Wright leads Zimmerman in the balloting by 200,000 votes, with Chipper in fourth. Casey Blake is also playing very well, but that doesn't figure to last. Mark Reynolds has a chance of going if no other Diamondbacks make the team. Arizona does have Justin Upton and Dan Haren as alternatives, though.
Starter: Jimmy Rollins
Backup: Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez currently has a 17,000-vote lead over Rollins in the balloting, but I'm guessing that won't hold up, even with Ramirez possessing 350 points of OPS on Rollins. If Ramirez does win the vote, then Rollins won't make the team and Miguel Tejada would seem to be the clear favorite to act as the backup. Tejada could potentially be the lone Astro unless Wandy Rodriguez or Carlos Lee is selected.
Starters: Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano
Backups: Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe
Soriano is currently 33,000 votes up on Beltran for the last starting spot. Cubs tend to do extremely well in the voting, so I'm guessing he'll increase that lead, even though Beltran is the more deserving player. If Beltran does get it, then Soriano wouldn't seem to have a very good chance of making the club as a reserve, potentially opening up a spot for Mike Cameron or Nate McLouth.
The other reserves seem like clear choices. The top six outfielders in OPS are all represented here (Ibanez, Hawpe, Upton, Beltran, Dunn and Braun), and Hawpe would probably be the only Rockie. If Dunn gets ripped off again, that could open up a spot for Cameron. Cameron has been to just one All-Star Game, that coming in 2001, and this would seem to be his last good chance to go to a second.
Starters: Johan Santana, Chad Billingsley, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Wandy Rodriguez, Josh Johnson, Johnny Cueto
Relievers: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Francisco Cordero
Obviously, when it comes to pitchers, a great deal will depend on who is scheduled to work the Sunday before the All-Star Game and who isn't. Odds are that either Lincecum or Cain will go from the Giants, but not both. Other starting pitchers shaping up as options are Dan Haren, Jair Jurrjens, Zach Duke, Jake Peavy, Adam Wainwright, Derek Lowe and Ted Lilly.