Quick, name which team would probably have the most representatives in a 2004 NL Central-only All Star game. My answer....
Catcher: Jason Kendall, Pirates
Honorable Mention: No one. Jason LaRue, if you must. Ausmus, Barret, Matheny, Eddie Perez...yikes.
First Base: Derrek Lee, Cubs.
HM: Jeff Bagwell, Astros.
I'll give the Lee the nod; he's younger, faster, cheaper, less injured, and better defensively. But Bagwell has more facial hair.
Second Base: Jeff Kent, Astros.
HM: D'Angelo Jimenez, Reds.
Kent's got more power, but Jimenez was awesome after coming to the Reds, and he lit up winter ball.
Shortstop: Edgar Renteria, Cards.
HM: No one else is even close.
Third Base: Scott Rolen, Cards.
HM: Morgan Ensberg, Astros.
Rolen's awesome. Look up his stats. (Check out his OPS+ line!) Ensberg needs to prove he can do it again.
Right Field: Sammy Sosa, Cubs.
HM: Richard Hidalgo, Astros.
Cork or not, Sosa's more consistent, more patient, more powerful. Hidalgo's got a better arm and more bullet wounds.
Center Field: Jim Edmonds, Cards.
HM: Tie - Corey Patterson, Cubs, Scott Podsednik, Brewers.
Edmonds is a monster when healthy - Patterson and Podsednik are suprisingly similar players (Patterson has a little more power, Podsednik a little more speed.)
Left Field: Albert Pujols, Cards (if they keep him there, and I've read that they will.)
HM: Lance Berkman, Astros, Adam Dunn, Reds.
Pujols is the second-most dangerous hitter in the game today - Dunn had 27 HR's, 74 BB's in only 381 AB's and is younger than Berkman.
Starting Pitcher: Mark Prior, Cubs.
HM: Roy Oswalt, Astros.
Prior is the best pitcher in the game today. He's 23. Oswalt's up there, but there are injury concerns.
Reliever: Octavio Dotel, Astros.
HM: Latroy Hawkins, Cubs.
To tell the truth, Hawkins could well be more valuable than Dotel next year because he could easily throw 20+ more innings since he hasn't been cursed with the closer label yet. But I'll stick with Dotel for now.
Astros: 2 winners, 5 HM.
Cubs: 3 winners, 2 HM.
Cards: 4 winners, 0 HM.
Reds: 0 winners, 2 HM.
Brewers: 0 winners, 1 HM.
Pirates: 1 winner, 0 HM.
So, what does all this mean? The Astros have the most total 'votes', with 7. I think they've got the most balanced team. The Cubs are next with 5, and I could have easily added Kerry Wood, or Aramis Ramirez, but I felt like they just missed the cut. Their pitching staff is young and dominant. The Cards have the stars (Renteria, Rolen, Pujols, Edmonds), but too many holes, and very little pitching. The Reds, Brewers, and Pirates? Well, there's a reason everyone's calling it a 3 or 2 team race. These last 3 teams just don't have the players yet.
Well, that's it for today. Oh, in case you haven't heard, this blog was recently linked by Aaron's Baseball Blog, which was (in many ways) the main inspiration for me to start writing about baseball. So go visit his site. Now.