Friday, May 1, 2009

Albee's All-April All-Star teams

Though Tim Lincecum may be having a “Fidrych Effect” on attendance at AT&T Park this season whenever he pitches, if the All-Star Game were today the San Francisco Giants would have only one player worthy of being a starter and it wouldn’t be the Freak, the Franchise, Turnstile Tim or whatever they call Lincecum these days.

It would be the guy who calls Lincecum’s pitches.

Introducing Bengie Molina, who is the starting catcher for the National League on Albee’s All-April All-Star team following the A-Rod free first month of the 2009 season. Molina leads all NL catchers in home runs (4), RBIs (18) and batting average (.329) so he was a slam-dunk choice to be the starting catcher.

Joining Molina on the NL’s AAAAS team are Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley and Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made the AAAAS team, but honorable mention is St. Louis rookie third baseman Brian Barden, who was claimed off waivers two years ago and is hitting .385 with a .641 slugging percentage.

The AAAAS starting outfield consists of Raul Ibanez of the Phillies (56 totals bases in April), the NL’s leading hitter Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets and Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers, who is followed closely by “Manny Behind Manny” teammate Andre Ethier.

Though the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley is 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA, my choice after April’s play as the NL starting pitcher is the Mets’ Johan Santana who is 3-1 and is second in the major leagues in ERA (1.10) and tied for strikeouts (44).

First base was easily the dominant position in the NL in April. Albert Pujols was the best of the bunch, but special kudos go to Joey Votto of Cincinnati, Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego and the Marlins’ Jorge Cantu who had a .778 slugging percentage last month.

In the American League, the most difficult choices for starters for the AAAAS team came at first base and second base. Kevin Youkilis of Boston leads the AL in hitting and gets the nod to start but Carlos Pena of Tampa Bay (9 HRs, 24 RBIs) had a terrific April even if his team didn’t. At second base, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano is off to a fast start but Aaron Hill of Toronto has better numbers and gets the start on my All-April team. Rounding out the starting AL lineup are catcher Victor Martinez of Cleveland, third baseman Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay and former Oakland A’s backup shortstop Marco Scutaro of the Blue Jays, whose stats outshined Derek Jeter. The AL’s starting outfield is Nick Markakis of Baltimore, Torii Hunter of the Angels and Jason Bay of the Red Sox, who batted .324 with five home runs and 19 RBIs and, in drawing 23 walks in his first 22 games, had an on-base percentage of .490.

The AL starting pitcher is a no-brainer who used to be a no name. Kansas City’s Zack Greinke is 5-0 and leads MLB with a 0.50 ERA and 44 strikeouts.


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