|2011 All-Star Game|
The American League West may be able to put together the best rotation in baseball, but putting together a lineup from players just from the division is a little tougher. Of the four teams in the division, only the Rangers are better than league average in runs (455), on-base percentage (.332), OPS (.788) and home runs (111). That makes it no surprise that our lineup for the American League West All-Star team has a heavy Ranger lean, as five of the nine position players are from Texas, including the heart of the order from No. 3 to No. 7 in the lineup.
C Kurt Suzuki, Athletics: There are some serious slim pickings in this category, with the only real choice coming between the A's Suzuki and Seattle's Miguel Olivo. Neither was considered a snub when the All-Star team was announced, and for good reason. Suzuki is hitting .224/.291/.342, while Olivo is hitting .223/.265/.392. Olivo does have 12 home runs and 40 RBI, but I just could justify putting someone with a .265 on-base percentage on any time of All-Star team. Suzuki also brings top-flight defense, so he gets the nod.
1B Mitch Moreland, Rangers: This is an intriguing group of young first basemen. The preseason pick would have been Daric Barton, but he's now in the minor leagues. The Angels' Mark Trumbo (.259/.303/.474) and Mariners' Justin Smoak (.232/.330/.423)are starting to put up some good numbers, but the pick here is Moreland (.279/.341/.458), whose average numbers are better, even if his counting stats aren't up to the other two. The difference is small enough to go with the Moreland.
2B Howard Kendrick, Angels: Finally, a real-live All-Star. The 27-year-old Kendrick is making his first All-Star appearance, hitting .305/.361/.466 with eight home runs and 29 RBI. A very good defensive second baseman, he also adds value by being able to play all over the diamond. He's started games at second base, left field and first base this season and has also started one game in his career at third base.
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers: You can argue he's not worth the five-year, $80 million contract given to him by the Rangers, but it's tough to argue that he's not the best third baseman in the division. Hitting .272/.314/.492 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI, plus exceptional defense, the choice here is clear.
SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers: You're not going to confuse Andrus with Cal Ripken Jr. or Alex Rodriguez anytime soon, but the smooth-fielding shortstop is getting on base at a .332 clip and also has 26 stolen bases. Erick Aybar is equal with Andrus in batting average (.283) and better slugging (.431), but lower on-base percentage (.316). I'll take Andrus' glove, as well, so he gets the call.
LF Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Hamilton missed 36 games after suffering a broken bone in his shoulder in April, but he's still accumulated 11 home runs to go along with 49 RBI and a line of .305/.359/.549. While Hamilton's played all over the outfield, he's started the most games in left, and that's probably the best spot for him. And he's certainly the best choice in the division.
CF Peter Bourjos, Angels: Although he's currently hobbled by tightness in his right hamstring, Bourjos is the class of AL West center fielders, hitting .272/.323/.397. He also covers a ton of ground, which helps in this division that features some spacious ballparks.
RF Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Like Hamilton, the Rangers right fielder has missed a good chunk of games with a trip to the disabled list in May, but he's still hit 20 home runs and knocked in 55. His .293 on-base percentage is lower than you'd like to see, but his slugging (.520) makes up for it. He beats out Torii Hunter who has a slightly better on-base percentage, much better defense, but pales in comparison in slugging.
DH Michael Young, Rangers: The Rangers sure are glad they didn't heed Young's trade request this offseason. Filling in at various spots in the field for injured Rangers, he's also taken to the designated hitter spot without a hiccup. Young is hitting .326/.360/.486 with eight home runs and 59 RBI. He's also played 25 games at first base, 11 at second base and four at third, while the bulk of his playing time has come as a DH.
SP Jered Weaver, Angels: Starting pitching is probably the deepest category in this division -- and looking at the starting pitching across the AL West may help explain the tough time finding offensive standouts (or it could be vice-versa, though I'll stick with the pitching in this division). Weaver gets the nod with a record of 11-4 and a 1.86 ERA. He's struck out 120 in 140 1/3 innings and walked just 31. Weaver lost his arbitration case with the Angels this year, he'll have a pretty good case this offseason, going into his last arbitration year. Apologies to Dan Haren (10-5, 2.61), Felix Hernandez (8-7, 3.19), C.J. Wilson (9-3, 3.20), Michael Pineda (8-6, 3.03) and Gio Gonzalez (8-6, 2.47).
MR Scott Downs, Angels: The 35-year-old Downs has been around so long that he's a former Expo, but he's maybe having his best season yet. Signed by the Angels this offseason, he's produced for his new team, going 5-2 with a 1.52 ERA, striking out 20 in 29 2/3 innings. He gets the nod over A's side-armer Brad Ziegler (2-1, 1.78).
CL Jordan Walden, Angels: The All-Star picked up his 20th save of the season on Sunday, closing out the Angels' victory over the Mariners by striking out the only batter he faced. His ERA is down to 2.84 and has 40 strikeouts in 37 innings, while walking 17. Brandon League is also an All-Star and his 23 saves lead the American League. His lower strikeouts and higher ERA are the reason Walden gets the nod, even though the Angel has two more blown saves than League.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.