Yesterday, we discussed how there seems to be a changing of the guard when it comes to All Star voting. Where it once was very difficult to pick the right first baseman or three of a bevy of stud outfielders from each league, there is now entirely too much depth at the middle infield positions.
Yesterday, I dissected the difficulty in picking the right All Star at second base in the American League. Today, let’s take a look at the National League.
The entire landscape has pretty much changed since last year’s All Star game in regards to the premier second baseman in the NL. Dee Gordon was the man, however, he is currently suspended and won’t be eligible for the Midsummer Classic. DJ LeMahieu is actually still playing respectable baseball, looking to return to this year’s Game. Joe Panik, the third NL All Star last year, has gotten off to a slow start, and statistically speaking, is the worst everyday starting second baseman in the NL.
So, who do you choose from?
Daniel Murphy was pretty pedestrian at last year’s All Star Break and didn’t garner too much attention or many votes. This year, it seems like a no-brainer.
Something clicked, and Murph has never looked back. He has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the end of last season, and there is no signs of him slowing down any time soon. He’s batting .409 over a month into the season and has already belted five home runs to go along with 13 doubles.
Speaking of hot hitters, how do you deny Ben Zobrist a start in July? Last season, he was in the AL, going from the worst team in the AL to the best team at the deadline. This season, he came on over to the NL to sit atop the order of arguably the best team in baseball, and he is excelling.
He already has 15 hits in May (that’s more than one a day for those not savvy in math) including four home runs. He’s driven in 18 runs while scoring 13, and again, this is all in May alone.
What about Neil Walker? Last season, by Walker standards, he was dreadful from April to June. It seemed like he took a giant step back after a huge 2014. But he finished the season in typical Walker fashion, batting .278 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI over the last three months.
This season he was en fuego until a minor bump in the road that had him on the bench nursing an injury the past week. Still, Walker leads all NL second baseman in home runs.
Remember perennial All Star Brandon Phillips? The guy that was seemingly too old and not good enough anymore for the Reds to get any trade offers on this offseason? Well, at 35-years of age, he is looking like the old Brandon Phillips again.
Phillips is currently batting .286 and is second behind Walker in home runs for NL second basemen with six. He’s no Daniel Murphy, but suddenly we are four solid second basemen deep and we haven’t even discussed last season’s incumbent All Star LeMahieu, who is having a very good season. His season is good, but dwarfed next to the other second basemen mentioned. The funny thing is a year or two ago, his numbers were considered the standard that you can get at second base.
It will be a tough vote, and there is a lot of time left to see who cools down and who stays hot. But there is a heck of a lot more depth in the middle infield than ever before.
Who are you voting for?