As long as Fox is billing the All-Star Game as "This time it
counts," let's make sure the best players get to
Chicago on July 15. Here are the most deserving All-Stars
(considered only for the position they have played the most).
C JORGE POSADA, YANKEES Through June 15 he had the most RBIs
(311) of any catcher since 2000 and is clearly the best in the
league at the position.
1B CARLOS DELGADO, BLUE JAYS The league leader in home runs (22)
and RBIs (76) is on pace to surpass 100 RBIs for the sixth
2B BRET BOONE, MARINERS He's having a bigger offensive
season than the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano and still has those
soft hands in the field.
3B HANK BLALOCK, RANGERS With a .341 average and solid play in
the field, this second-year player gets the nod over Anaheim's
Troy Glaus in a coin flip.
SS ALEX RODRIGUEZ, RANGERS Boston's Nomar Garciaparra was
outslugging him thanks to 12 triples, but with 16 home runs and
reliable defense A-Rod is the class of the field.
LF MANNY RAMIREZ, RED SOX Versatile Melvin Mora of Baltimore is
having a terrific season, but Ramirez's run production (51 RBIs)
CF VERNON WELLS, BLUE JAYS In the AL only Delgado had more RBIs
than Wells (61), who is also stellar in the field.
RF ICHIRO SUZUKI, MARINERS Hitting .339, he rebounded from a slow
start to head a thin class of rightfielders, edging Tampa Bay's
DH EDGAR MARTINEZ, MARINERS One of the game's great pure hitters
is having such a big year (.303, 14 HR) that he's reconsidering retirement.
STARTING PITCHER ESTEBAN LOAIZA, WHITE SOX He led the AL in ERA
(2.24) and at 9­2 needed two more wins to match his
single-season career high.
C JAVY LOPEZ, BRAVES After his slugging percentage fell for four
straight years, he had 19 homers at week's end in a
1B TODD HELTON, ROCKIES Even with pitiful numbers outside of Coors
Field (.269, 16 RBIs), Helton gets the edge over the Brewers'
2B MARCUS GILES, BRAVES He led NL second basemen in runs (45),
doubles (24) and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, .930).
3B SCOTT ROLEN, CARDINALS His smarts and athleticism at third are
unmatched. Rolen gets the tough call over Mike Lowell of Florida
with a significant lead in OBP (.397 to .360).
SS EDGAR RENTERIA, CARDINALS Florida's Alex Gonzalez and
Atlanta's Rafael Furcal are having excellent seasons, but
Renteria has the whole package: speed, defense and power.
LF ALBERT PUJOLS, CARDINALS You know you're having a great
year when you keep Barry Bonds off the varsity. Pujols has been
almost Triple Crown great while pushing .400.
CF JIM EDMONDS, CARDINALS Ranked fifth in the majors in OPS,
Edmonds continues to play the best centerfield defense this side
of Atlanta's Andruw Jones.
RF GARY SHEFFIELD, BRAVES At 34 he still has fast bat speed (18
HRs), and he was the only player ranked among the top 30 in OPS
with at least 10 stolen bases.
STARTING PITCHER KEVIN BROWN, DODGERS He's 9-1 for the
worst-scoring team in the league, allowing only three fly balls
and five hits per game.
Potential free agent Rafael Palmeiro could remain a Ranger for
life if he accepts a DH role while the team grooms Mark Teixeira
at first base. Palmeiro, however, has begun grumbling already and
may have to move on.... The Blue Jays' resurgence after a
poor April is bad news for contenders with a shopping list.
Toronto has scrapped plans to trade pitcher Kelvim Escobar and
leftfielder Shannon Stewart.... Farewell to classy third baseman
Matt Williams, who retired last week with similar career numbers
to Ron Cey's in hits (1,878 to 1,868), batting average (.268
to .261), RBIs (1,218 to 1,139), runs (997 to 977) and OPS (.806
to .799). He also had a big edge in home runs (378 to 316).
Read Tom Verducci's Inside Baseball column every week at
COLOR PHOTO: RON VESELY (LOAIZA) Loaiza
COLOR PHOTO: ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (RENTERIA) Renteria