By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
We know that Latino players have been a huge part of baseball for decades. The tradition continues into 2012, and the talent improves as the talent pool grows.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
We’re at a point now, and probably have been for a few years, where an entire Latino Major League Baseball All-Star Team from both leagues can be fielded. So let’s get right to it. All stats are as of the beginning of the day June 29.
First base: Albert Pujols. Angels. Got off to a horrible start this season but is turning it around, and even if he doesn’t make it to the All-Star Game in 2012, he’s been there, done that so many times.
Second base: Robinson Cano, Yankees. .307, 18 bombs, 42 RBI. Like the song says, “Going to, Kansas City… Kansas City here I come.”
Shortstop: A few options here, but let’s pick one: Alcides Escobar, Royals. Host team has to have a player, and Escobar is batting .315 and is solid defensively.
Third base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. With is .312 batting average, 16 HRs and 62 RBI, he’ll be in Kansas City for the All-Star Game anyway, I suspect.
Catcher: Jesus Montero, Mariners. Based on the numbers and his status as an everyday player (C or DH), he’s the most productive Latino catcher in the AL. He’ll be in the Midsummer Classic in the future.
Designated hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox. The best DH in the game. .308 average, 44 of his 84 hits are either doubles or home runs, 53 RBI.
Outfielders: Alex Rios, White Sox; Nelson Cruz, Rangers; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. Rios is the best hitter of this bunch, but Cruz has the votes and Bautista the home run swing, with 26.
Starting pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Mariners. Low ERA, tied for AL lead in strikeouts, 6-5 record for a team that struggles mightily to give him run support.
Relief pitcher: Fernando Rodney (Rays) and Rafael Soriano (Yankees) are good picks, but my guy is Ernesto “Big Ern” Frieri. The Colombian arrived in a deal with San Diego earlier this season, and has been lights out as the Angels’ closer. Ten saves, just six hits allowed in 23.1 innings. 40 Ks, and had yet to be scored on as an Angel. 0.00 ERA.
First base: Carlos “El Caballo” Lee, Astros. Approaching 2,200 career hits. Has 354 career home runs. It’s lifetime achievement recognition, if nothing else.
Second base: Jose Altuve, Astros. He’s short (5-foot-6) but he can play. Dealing with a hamstring injury but before that, was hitting .309. And he’s only 22 years old.
Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Cubs. Seems like he needs to mature a little, but what a future the 22-year-old has. Will likely be the Cubs’ representative this year in KC.
Third base: Martin Prado, Braves. Used more as an outfielder, but he’s a great top-of-the-order hitter who could take over at third when Chipper Jones departs after this season.
Catcher: Three pretty good ones to choose from here, but Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies does it all – hits, calls a great game, blocks balls and the plate – and should go to his first All-Star Game next month.
Designated hitter: He’ll be there anyway, but let’s take a guy with AL experience – the Giants’ Melky Cabrera. 108 hits, a .355 batting average.
Outfielders; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Carlos Beltran, Cardinals; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins. Expect to see all of these guys in KC, even young Stanton, who despite a .274 average is an RBI man and has 17 home runs.
Starting pitcher: A few to choose here. With respect to the Mets’ Johan Santana for his career and no-hitter this season, how about some new blood with Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals? 10-3 record, 108 strikeouts, 2.78 ERA.
Relief pitcher: Sergio Romo, Giants. More of a setup man, but dang he’s good out of the pen and can close effectively if needed. 2 earned runs, 10 hits allowed in 21.2 innings. A sharp 0.83 ERA.