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News » Cards have a trio of All-Stars so far Pujols, Ludwick and Molina are off to best starts at their positions in the National Leagu


Cards have a trio of All-Stars so far Pujols, Ludwick and Molina are off to best starts at their positions in the National Leagu


Cards have a trio of All-Stars so far Pujols, Ludwick and Molina are off to best starts at their positions in the National Leagu
Inasmuch as Busch Stadium, the site for the 2009 All-Star Game, was the only major-league venue to have any ballots available for three days last week, it would stand to reason that several Cardinals would be leading in the early returns. But there are three who should be, no matter where the voting was conducted.

First baseman Albert Pujols and right fielder Ryan Ludwick, the only two Cardinal All-Stars last year, led the National League before the weekend in runs batted in, both averaging better than an RBI a game. Pujols also had six homers to lead the league, one more than Ludwick, and they were hitting .345 and .353, respectively.

The third Cardinal who is the best at his position this early in the season is Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina, who never has been on an All-Star team but was batting .340 and had only two bases stolen against him.

If one were to fill out the rest of the ballot for the eight National League position players, the Chicago Cubs could have two representatives in two-time All-Star Aramis Ramirez (.353) at third base and, in a league deep in shortstops, Ryan Theriot at .365.

The other three spots would go to New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran (.404), referred to as quot;Rogers Hornsbyquot; the other day Cardinals by manager Tony La Russa; Los Angeles outfielder Matt Kemp (.362) and Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson (.385).

The American League team after three weeks would be a varied one, with seven teams represented for the eight position-players spots (There is no designated hitter spot for All-Star Games to be played in National League cities).

Though he has played some at first base, Cleveland's Victor Martinez, hitting .394, would be the catcher. At first base, incumbent Kevin Youkilis of Boston (.429) gets the edge over Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (.431) because Youkilis is first in the league in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging.

Former Missouri star Ian Kinsler of Texas, an All-Star reserve last year, would be the second baseman based on his .381 average and fourth-ranked total of 16 runs batted in.

Though New York's Derek Jeter had four homers and 10 RBIs, Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett, a better defensive player than Jeter, was hitting .352, so before he drops, Bartlett is the AL All-Star shortstop.

Tampa Bay teammate Evan Longoria could be an easy winner at third base, where he was hitting .386 and slugging .772.

The outfield would consist of Baltimore's Nick Markakis (.387), Los Angeles' Torii Hunter (six homers, .804 slugging) and the Yankees' Nick Swisher, who wasn't on the ballot but had a .433 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage in the first three weeks.

Of the 2008 All-Stars who probably won't be stars this year is Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, the National League starter last year who was hitting .103 entering the Cardinals' series this weekend. But, at least, he has been playing. Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer, the AL starting catcher last year, hasn't even played because of a back injury.

The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who might win the balloting anyway at third base, hasn't played after hip surgery.

Ben Sheets, the National League starting pitcher last year, won't pitch for anybody this season because of shoulder problems. Nor will New York Mets reliever Billy Wagner.

Houston's Lance Berkman, the starter at first base last season, opened up at .200 and doesn't figure to outstrip Pujols, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and a few others this year at that position.

Milton Bradley, a designated hitter on the American League squad last year, will have some ground to make up to be considered for the NL team this year. Bradley, plagued by a groin injury, has one hit, a homer, in 23 at-bats for the Cubs and after he limped around the other day, manager Lou Piniella said he wouldn't play Bradley, the Cubs' regular right fielder when the season began, until he was completely healthy.

And don't look for Arizona righthander Brandon Webb, the 10th of 11 National League pitchers last year. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has been shut down because of shoulder problems.

ALL-STAR TRIVIA

Let's test your knowledge of All-Star Game history with a few questions: Answers at the bottom of column.

1. Who was the last Cardinals player to hit a home run in the All-Star Game? (a) Albert Pujols, (b) Mark McGwire, (c) Reggie Smith, (d) Jack Clark.

2. Who was the last Cardinals pitcher to be the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game? (a) Bob Gibson, (b) Chris Carpenter, (c) John Tudor, (d) Rick Wise.

3. At what position did Pujols make his All-Star Game debut in 2001? (a second base, (b) first base, (c) third base, (d) left field.

4. In how many All-Star Games did Stan Musial play? (a) 25, (b) 30, (c) 24, (d) 23.

5. Who was the last Cardinals manager to be the winning manager in the All-Star Game? (a) Tony La Russa, (b) Red Schoendienst, (c) Whitey Herzog, (d) Billy Southworth.

6. Who was the last Cardinals catcher to be voted an All-Star Game starter? (a) Darrell Porter, (b) Tom Pagnozzi, (c) Tim McCarver, (d) Ted Simmons.

ANSWERS

1. c (Smith in 1974); 2. d (Wise in 1973); 3. c (Pujols finished the 2001 game at second base; 4. c; 5. b (Schoendienst in 1969); 6. d (Simmons in 1979 but didn't play because he was injured).


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 26, 2009

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