MLB All Star Game 2016 Predictions: Projecting Who Should Start For National League In Midsummer Classic [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]

By Mike Smollins @MikeSmollins
on Jul 02, 2016 08:00 AM EDT
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Paul Goldschmidt
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The Midsummer Classic is almost upon us as the MLB All-Star Game will take place on July 12 from Petco Park in San Diego.

Though fan voting is now closed for the game, which will determine home-field advantage in the World Series, the debate over which players should start rages on.

Here are our picks for who should start at each position for the National League in the 2016 All-Star Game. To view this article in slideshow form, CLICK START.   

Note: All stats are as of Friday, July 1.

Pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Cubs

Terry Collins, the manager of the reigning National League champion Mets has a tough decision ahead of this game as the National League has tremendous pitching in it. Clayton Kershaw was the certain favorite to earn the starting nod, but now that he's on the disabled list with a back injury, a new opportunity arises.

There are plenty of amazing weapons for Collins to choose from, including Noah Syndergaard from his own staff as well as the likes of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Jose Fernandez and Johnny Cueto are all quality candidates. Arrieta, however, deserves the nod. The Cubs right-hander leads the MLB in wins (12) and batting average allowed (.178), while he's third with a 2.10 ERA.

Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Nationals

Ramos is the clear pick out of the NL catching crop, ranking second in the NL with a .340 batting average. Ramos also leads all catchers with 12 homers, 44 RBIs and a .389 on-base percentage, while he's caught eight of 15 would-be base stealers. Honorable mentions include the likes of Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy.

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

It's a tight race between the Diamondbacks first baseman and Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs, but Goldschmidt gets the slight edge. Goldschmidt owns a .298/.428/.512 slash line compared to Rizzo's .284/.407/.575, though Rizzo has a higher OPS and more RBIs, so it's really a tough call. Goldschmidt's .428 on-base percentage is the highest in the NL and he has slugged 14 homers while driving in 53 runs.

Second Base: Daniel Murphy, Nationals

It's not even debatable. After slugging his way into the record books during the Mets run to the World Series last year, the Nationals second baseman has been on a torrid pace this season. Murphy leads the NL with a .351 batting average and 104 hits, is tied for the league lead with 174 total bases and ranks second with a .588 slugging percentage and a .982 OPS. Sure, he ranks tied for fourth among his position's qualifiers with five errors, but his bat more than makes up for any defensive shortcomings.

Third Base: Kris Bryant, Cubs

We may have snubbed Rizzo from a start, but we're not going to do the Cubs dirty twice. Reigning Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant will get the nod here, slightly edging out Nolan Arenado from the Rockies. Bryant paces the NL with homers (22, tied) and runs (62), while he is second in RBI with 60 and total bases with 168 (tied). He's also proven versatile, as he plays all over the diamond

Shortstop: Trevor Story, Rockies

NL Rookie of the Year candidate Corey Seager should be considered, but Story's storybook (yeah, we went there) start to the season can't be ignored. Story hit two homers in his MLB debut and launched seven in his first six MLB games, which explains why he's currently leading all NL shortstops with 19 on the season. Story also leads all NL shortstops with a .551 on-base percentage and is a plus-2 in defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs.

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Yoenis Cespedes, Mets; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

Gonzalez is tied for the league lead with 174 total bases, ranks third in hits (98) and runs (54, tied) and is fourth in batting average (.329). Cespedes has 19 homers and 46 RBIs, while leading all NL center fielders with a .562 slugging percentage. Braun's .937 OPS leads all MLB left fielders and he has no errors on the season.

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