Sunday, May 01, 2005

April's All-Stars

While we still have a few months left before we need to legitimately start thinking about which players will be making the All-Star team, it is interesting to consider which Twins players would make the team if the voting were to be finalized after one month. In my opinion, there are three guys who would be sure-fire bets to be on the All-Star team, and several other players who would have a legitimate chance. So without further ado, I give you April's Twins All-Stars:

THE LOCKS

Jacque Jones - Jones is off to a torrid start. He's hitting at a .352 clip that puts him second among AL outfielders behind Johnny Damon, and his improved patience this year has shown as his .467 on-base percentage ties for the AL lead. His 3 home runs, 14 RBI, and 6 doubles put him right up among the top AL outfielders. His defense has been excellent as well.

Johan Santana - Johan hasn't exactly been pitching at the ridiculous level he was during the second half of last season, but there's no question that he's pitching at an All-Star level. Including his start from today, Santana is 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA and he leads the Majors with 52 strikeouts.

Joe Nathan - Without question, Nathan has been among the best closers in the league. He's tied for the AL lead with 8 saves, and has yet to allow an earned run in 12 appearances. He also has 13 K over his 11.1 innings pitched.

THE FRINGE GUYS

Justin Morneau - He's been just creaming the ball, hitting .400 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in just 45 plate appearances. Also, with Carlos Delgado heading to the National League and Jason Giambi falling out of grace, first base in the AL is wide open. Unfortunately, with the injury that kept him out half the month, Justin simply hasn't seen enough at-bats to be legitimatelt considered as of yet. That said, if he continues at this pace, he'll easily make the All-Star squad.

Torii Hunter - His numbers look impressive; 4 HR, 17 RBI, 11/11 on stolen base attempts... but then you get to that batting average. It might be hard for him to be voted in as an All-Star hitting .233. Then again, his defense has kept him on the highlight reel consistently, and his popularity among the fans might actually make him more likely to be voted in as a starter than Jones.

And then there are a few more guys who could be considered fringe possibilities but would be a bit of a stretch. Juan Rincon has been dominant, but it is difficult to make the All-Star team as a non-closing reliever. Joe Mauer is probably up there with Pudge and Javy Lopez as the top AL catchers, but he will need to improve his numbers before he can gain serious consideration (you'd like to see more than 7 RBI from a guy who hits third in the lineup).

Well, there you have my April All-Stars. There you have five Twins with realistic chances of making the All-Star team after impressive first months. By no means am I saying that these are the guys who will be there in July, but if everything continues to go the way it is now, I think that is pretty likely.