PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 12: (Center) National League All-Star Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants stands with National League All-Star teammates before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Okay, so let's keep getting through these. I'll feel like a knucklehead if we're still covering this stuff in November, you know? Here's the NL West team, and we should get through the AL ones soon. Here are links to the NL Central and NL East teams.
Catcher: Miguel Montero, Arizona (4.3 fWAR)
Very quietly posted the best fWAR mark of any catcher in the National League, although I think that a reasonable person could argue that Yadier Molina was better this season. Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta played as well, but not nearly as much.
First Base: Todd Helton, Colorado (2.6 fWAR)
Yeah... not a good year for first basemen in the NL once you leave the Central. San Diego's Jesus Guzman played great but only got into 76 games, while James Loney's second-half hot streak couldn't do enough to pump up his full-season stats. I think we all wonder whether Brandon Belt's name could've been written in here.
Second Base: Jamey Carroll, Los Angeles (2.2 fWAR)
Another really, really weak position in the NL West this year. Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson and Juan Uribe battled injuries, Kelly Johnson struggled before being traded, Colorado didn't shore up their second base situation until adding Mark Ellis, and that leaves us with Jamey Carroll. To be fair, Carroll's solid performance makes him one of the best second basemen on the free agent market.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco (5.5 fWAR)
Despite only playing in 117 games this year, Sandoval was easily the best third baseman in the entire National League. Flashing his typical hitting prowess and power, Sandoval added a superb defensive effort (+12 UZR) to his docket this summer.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (6.3 fWAR)
There shouldn't be much explanation here. One of the elite players in the National League, Tulowitzki turned in another top-level season in 2011 even though the rest of his team didn't do the same. The rare shortstop that provides elite defense, 30+ home run power and strong OBP skills, he's precisely the kind of player that you want to build around long-term. Clearly the Rockies agree given their massive commitment to him.
Left Field: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (4.1 fWAR)
Gonzalez split time in all three outfield spots but spent most of it in left. And while his numbers appeared to take a serious dip this season, it's worth noting that the league-wide decline in offense magnifies his regression. He did lose some of his power from last year, but showed significant improvement in his strikeout and walk rates that should be sustainable long-term.
Center Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles (8.7 fWAR)
The best player in the National League this season, I voted for him as MVP on my BtB ballot. His turnaround from fringe-replacement level last season (0.4 fWAR) to MVP-level this season is nothing short of astonishing, but it's probably the least surprising example of this ever happening.
Right Field: Justin Upton, Arizona (6.4 fWAR)
A very legitimate MVP candidate for most of the season, Kemp was able to run away during the final weeks of the season but Upton will surely get some extra credit for his team's regular season performance. Like with Kemp, we had to wait a while for Upton to put everything together, but in the end it's totally going to be worth it. This shouldn't be the last time that these two outfielders battle for MVP honors.
No. 1: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles (6.8 fWAR)
No. 2: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco (5.5 fWAR)
No. 3: Matt Cain, San Francisco (5.2 fWAR)
No. 4: Ian Kennedy, Arizona (5.0 fWAR)
No. 5: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (4.4 fWAR)
Most of this should be pretty easy to understand. Kershaw is getting some very legitimate support for the NL Cy Young. Bumgarner's breakout this season really hasn't been talked about enough. Cain just keeps doing what Cain does. But I should talk about the back of this rotation for a moment. Mainly, I need to talk about my decision to go with Tim Lincecum over Dan Hudson, whose fWAR was about a half-win higher in 2011. It's pretty simple to me: I think that Lincecum pitched better in 2011 but fWAR isn't grasping that. Lincecum has a better ERA, FIP, xFIP and SIERA, and he pitched only seven innings less than Hudson.
Reliever: Sergio Romo, San Francisco (2.2 fWAR)
Reliever: J.J. Putz, Arizona (1.7 fWAR)
Reliever: Rafael Betancourt, Colorado (1.6 fWAR)
Putz is the only closer listed here, and he was exceptional in that role, recording 45 saves in 49 opportunities. Romo was even better, though, posting a ridiculous 0.96 FIP over 48 innings. His 70/5 K/BB presumably is one of the best ratios in MLB history, although Betancourt's 73/8 ratio is pretty darn impressive as well.