The Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away, which seems like about the right time to begin considering a ballot (OK, to begin voting).
Here's the ballot I just submitted:
1B - Lance Berkman, Astros - an easy choice with an OPS of 1171, particularly now that Albert Pujols is hurt.
2B - Chase Utley, Phillies - Dan Uggla is closer than I thought at this position, but MVP contender Utley gets the nod.
SS - Hanley Ramirez, Marlins - another MVP candidate is the choice from a strong field
3B - Chipper Jones, Braves - with a .500 OBP and 15 HRs to go along with his headline-grabbing .414 BA, Jones is the obvious choice
C - Geovany Soto, Cubs - a close call over Brian McCann of the Braves; I used team standing as the tiebreaker.
LF - Pat Burrell, Phillies - Pat "The Bat" has had his best season ever if you add 2H 2007 to 1H 2008 (and one of the best in the majors over that span)
CF - Aaron Rowand, Giants - Nate McLouth of the Pirates has better stats (969 OPS to 892 for Rowand), but I'll still pick the veteran who's done everything the Giants are paying him $12 million per season to do.
RF - Ryan Ludwick, Cards - Ludwick's 1065 OPS is too far ahead of the field to overlook.
1B - Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox - one of my favorite players, with good stats to support my vote.
2B - Brian Roberts, Orioles - Ian Kinsler of the Rangers has better stats, but I've heard that he's a poor fielder. This is about the weakest position in either league.
SS - Michael Young, Rangers - Better known players like Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria and Jhonny Peralta are having off years. Young never seems to have an off year.
3B - Alex Rodriguez, Yankees - Another weak position. A-Rod's season is far from his 2007 campaign, but good enough to hold the All-Star berth.
C - Joe Mauer, Twins - The AL batting leader (and 2006 batting champ) leads a weak field by a wide margin.
LF - Manny Ramirez, Red Sox - Hard to deny a .300 hitter in the year when he hit his 500th career HR.
CF - Josh Hamilton, Rangers - Triple Crown threat is one of the big stories in MLB this year. An easy choice.
RF - JD Drew, Red Sox - The oft-maligned outfielder is having the season the Sox signed him for - 992 OBP.
DH - Hideki Matsui, Yankees - hitting .323 after losing the regular LF position to Johnny Damon.