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Quarter for their thoughts: All-Stars right now

MLB.com columnists make their selections based on performances to this juncture

Quarter for their thoughts: All-Stars right now

MLB.com asked six of its columnists to name their selections for starters on the American and National League All-Star teams should the game be played this week, roughly a quarter into the season. Below are their choices and the cases made for their selections.

Mike Bauman

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Two players who deserve as much recognition, credit and applause as anyone over the first fourth of this season happen to play the same position in the same league.

They would be two shortstops: Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Milwaukee's Jean Segura. You couldn't go wrong naming either of them to start the All-Star Game, but since you couldn't name both, you might not be completely correct, either.

Both have terrific offensive numbers, with an edge to Tulowitzki. I went with Segura because he has established a highlight reel of astounding defensive plays, made on an almost nightly basis. He hasn't received anything like enough notice for a brilliant stretch in his first full big league season. If this were a prediction column, Tulo, with the greater name recognition, would be the safer bet. But this isn't that. This is different, which in this case, seems to be fine.

C -- AL: Carlos Santana, Indians | NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
SS -- AL: Jed Lowrie, A's | NL: Jean Segura, Brewers
OF -- AL: Mike Trout, Angels | NL: Justin Upton, Braves
OF -- AL: Alex Gordon, Royals | NL: Bryce Harper, Nationals
OF -- AL: Vernon Wells, Yankees | NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
DH -- AL: David Ortiz, Red Sox
SP -- AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners | NL: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

Anthony Castrovince

I thought this would be a relatively painless, non-binding exercise at this still-early juncture of the season, but my conscience wouldn't allow it. There are some pretty difficult decisions to be made here.

I labored over the third-base situation in the AL, where Miguel Cabrera's torrid production pace gets him the nod, even though Evan Longoria and Manny Machado both have better all-around games (gee, why does this debate sound vaguely familiar?). The NL outfield is an equally difficult choice. I had to leave out Shin-Soo Choo, who has been incredible for the Reds, but I suppose he can DH. Vernon Wells is, thus far, deserving of an AL outfield nod, further proving that the baseball gods have a tremendous sense of humor.

It's nice to see young guys like Jean Segura, Carlos Santana, Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper putting themselves in line for starting consideration, because the All-Star Game should serve to showcase the next wave as much as the established talent. And what better way to showcase the next wave than to give the incredible Matt Harvey the starting nod on his home turf at Citi Field?

C -- AL: Carlos Santana, Indians | NL: Buster Posey, Giants
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: David Wright, Mets
SS -- AL: Jed Lowrie, A's | NL: Jean Segura, Brewers
OF -- AL: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
OF -- AL: Vernon Wells, Yankees | NL: Justin Upton, Braves
OF -- AL: Alex Gordon, Royals | NL: Bryce Harper, Nationals
DH -- AL: David Ortiz, Red Sox
SP -- AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners | NL: Matt Harvey, Mets

Richard Justice

There are fresh faces like Jean Segura and Manny Machado and Starling Marte. There's a case to be made for all of them. Unfortunately, there isn't room for all of them in the starting lineup.

There are young stars like Paul Goldschmidt and Carlos Gomez and established ones like Joe Mauer and David Wright. There's Vernon Wells, one of the comeback kids of the season.

Has it ever been this difficult? For instance, check out the AL third basemen. There's Miguel Cabrera, the defending Most Valuable Player and Triple Crown winner. There's Evan Longoria, too. And Machado.

There also can be a debate for the AL second baseman. Robinson Cano has the numbers and the track record. For this one season, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Altuve and Ian Kinsler also have the numbers.

There are a couple of easier calls in the NL, but there are great debates at catcher (Buster Posey vs. Russell Martin), second base (Chase Utley vs. Matt Carpenter) and the outfield.

Bryce Harper has had a terrific first half, but so has Gerardo Parra. In the end, we'll probably see them all at Citi Field on July 16.

C -- AL: Joe Mauer, Twins | NL: Buster Posey, Giants
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: David Wright, Mets
SS -- AL: Jhonny Peralta, Tigers | NL: Jean Segura, Brewers
OF -- AL: Vernon Wells, Yankees | NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
OF -- AL: Adam Jones, Orioles | NL: Justin Upton, Braves
OF -- AL: Coco Crisp, A's | NL: Bryce Harper, Nationals
DH -- AL: Lance Berkman, Rangers
SP -- AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners | NL: Matt Harvey, Mets

Matthew Leach

In making out this ballot, I was reminded of something. I tend to vote for the best players overall, rather than the guys having the best couple of months. As I sat down to figure out who has had the best six weeks, I remembered one reason why: It's incredibly difficult to parse the best performances in so few games.

Which is to say, I had a lot of close calls. I would certainly listen to an argument for Matt Harvey over Clayton Kershaw, especially since the game will be at Citi Field, but for me, Kershaw's status as the NL's best pitcher outweighs Harvey's rocket ride to stardom. Both catcher spots were very difficult, with Carlos Santana and Yadier Molina tough to leave off.

At second base in each league, I saw three very legitimate candidates (Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia in the AL; Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips and Matt Carpenter in the NL). Each time I went with the player I believed to be the better one overall as a tiebreaker, because in each case I just couldn't differentiate this year's performance with any real level of confidence. Third base in the AL was also difficult, with Manny Machado and Evan Longoria having brilliant years.

But the toughest, by far, were the outfield spots. And in each case, again, my primary tiebreaker was the guys who are the best players over a period of time. Vernon Wells, Alex Gordon and Shin-Soo Choo were among the just-miss names. And the single closest call was Ryan Braun over Bryce Harper, which came down to something tiny: Braun has played more this year.

C -- AL: Joe Mauer, Twins | NL: Buster Posey, Giants
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Chase Utley, Phillies
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: David Wright, Mets
SS -- AL: Jhonny Peralta, Tigers | NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF -- AL: Mike Trout, Angels | NL: Justin Upton, Braves
OF -- AL: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
OF -- AL: Adam Jones, Orioles | NL: Ryan Braun, Brewers
DH -- AL: Mark Reynolds, Indians
SP -- AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners | NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Terence Moore

It's all about winning. That said, whenever there is a close call, always go with the guy with the more prolific team at the moment.

For instance: Cleveland's Carlos Santana over Minnesota's Joe Mauer.

Both are splendid offensive forces, and both are solid catchers. It's just that while Mauer has a higher batting average, Santana is superior in the power department. Not only that, with much help from Santana, the Indians are higher than the Twins in the AL Central.

Thus Santana is the AL catcher -- you know, if the All-Star Game was before Memorial Day instead of after the Fourth of July.

That same criteria applies to why Joey Votto of the Reds deserves the NL's first base spot as a first-quarter All-Star over Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers.

Gonzalez has slightly better numbers than Votto, but Gonzalez's offensive brilliance hasn't done anything to keep the Dodgers out of last place in the NL West. In contrast, Votto's resilient team keeps battling the Cardinals for the top of the NL Central.

Other than that, you just go with the best man when picking All-Stars, and nobody is better at any position than Miguel Cabrera, period.

C -- AL: Carlos Santana, Indians | NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Joey Votto, Reds
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
SS -- AL: Jhonny Peralta, Tigers | NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF -- AL: Mike Trout, Angels | NL: Bruce Harper, Nationals
OF -- AL: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | NL: Justin Upton, Braves
OF -- AL: Adam Jones, Orioles | NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
DH -- AL: Mark Reynolds, Indians
SP -- AL: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox | NL: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

Tracy Ringolsby

The weekend before the season opened, the D-backs made it clear that Paul Goldschmidt, who had only slightly more than a year of big league service time, is the face of the future of their franchise.

They signed him to a five-year, $32 million deal with a $14.5 million option for 2018, which would be his first year of free agency, and raised more than a few eyebrows by making that type of commitment to a largely unproven player.

Six weeks into the season, however, Goldschmidt has given every indication that he can handle any pressure that comes with his new public persona.

He has been the most productive first basemen in the NL, and if the voting were to end today, he should be a slam dunk to be the one surprise selection to the NL's All-Star lineup. His .322 average entering Friday was third among NL first basemen, which is solid, but first basemen are supposed to be run producers, and he leads NL first basemen in home runs (10) and RBIs (31). He has one more home run and two more RBIs than Anthony Rizzo, whom the Cubs declared to be their face of the future this week by signing him to a seven-year deal, but Goldschmidt is hitting 45 points higher.

Oh, and he has committed only two errors.

C -- AL: Carlos Santana, Indians | NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B -- AL: Chris Davis, Orioles | NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B -- AL: Robinson Cano, Yankees | NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B -- AL: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | NL: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
SS -- AL: Jed Lowrie, A's | NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF -- AL: Alex Gordon, Royals | NL: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF -- AL: Adam Jones, Orioles | NL: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds
OF -- AL: Nelson Cruz, Rangers | NL: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
DH -- AL: David Ortiz, Red Sox
SP -- AL: Felix Hernandez, Mariners | NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

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