Meet the new faces of baseball. Conspicuous by their absence on my 2005 All-Star teams are the eight active home run leaders and their combined 52 All-Star appearances: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Juan Gonzalez and Jim Thome.
Of the 20 players chosen, 13 are in their 20s. These teams also reflect the increasing Latinization of the game. As many All-Stars were born in Latin America as in the U.S.
Fan balloting in the American League was much more on the money than in the National League, where I took issue with six of the eight starters.
July 10, 2005
FIRST BASE -- MARK TEIXEIRA -- TEXAS RANGERS
At 25 the switch-hitter has earned the first of what should be many All-Star nods. Since last year's All-Star break, Teixeira has belted 42 homers and driven in 128 runs.
FANS' PICK -- TEIXEIRA
SECOND BASE -- BRIAN ROBERTS -- BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Roberts was second in the majors in OPS and slugging percentage at week's end. Not bad for a guy who once had to share time with Jerry Hairston.
FANS' PICK -- ROBERTS
SHORTSTOP -- MIGUEL TEJADA -- BALTIMORE ORIOLES
He's third in the league in slugging and has yet to go more than two consecutive games without a hit or more than four straight without driving in a run.
FANS' PICK -- TEJADA
THIRD BASE -- ALEX RODRIGUEZ -- NEW YORK YANKEES
In his second season as a Yankee, Rodriguez has hit .323 with runners in scoring position and was second in the AL in homers and RBIs at week's end.
FANS' PICK -- RODRIGUEZ
CATCHER -- JASON VARITEK -- BOSTON RED SOX
The Red Sox captain studies the game and blocks the plate with equal ferocity. Not to be overlooked, his slugging percentage is a career-high .556.
FANS' PICK -- VARITEK
OUTFIELD -- VLADIMIR GUERRERO -- LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The free-swinging slugger has drawn only 15 unintentional walks all year, but Guerrero still leads all outfielders in OPS. He hit .440 in June.
FANS' PICK -- GUERRERO
OUTFIELD -- MANNY RAMIREZ -- BOSTON RED SOX
He was hitting .224 on May 27, but he never lost his knack for driving in runs. He has hit .354 with men in scoring position this year and leads the league in RBIs (68).
FANS' PICK -- RAMIREZ
OUTFIELD -- GARY SHEFFIELD -- NEW YORK YANKEES
As reliably productive as ever at age 36, Sheffield ranked fifth among AL outfielders in OPS, third in on-base percentage and fourth in RBIs.
FANS' PICK -- JOHNNY DAMON, Red Sox
STARTING PITCHER -- ROY HALLADAY -- TORONTO BLUE JAYS
The 28-year-old righthander is better than he's ever been, including his 2003 Cy Young Award season. In his first 17 starts he went 11--4 with a 2.40 ERA and walked only 13 batters unintentionally while striking out 98.
RELIEF PITCHER -- MARIANO RIVERA -- NEW YORK YANKEES
After opening the season with two blown saves against the Red Sox, Rivera has converted 17 consecutive save chances without allowing a run. He's given up only three earned runs all season, one since April 6.
FIRST BASE -- DERREK LEE -- CHICAGO CUBS
Lee could become only the fifth player to hit 40 homers while batting at least .375. The others are all Hall of Famers: Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Chuck Klein and Babe Ruth.
FANS' PICK -- LEE
SECOND BASE -- CHASE UTLEY -- PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Utley is a Philly fan favorite because of his aggressive style, and because he can hit. He led NL second basemen in OPS (.916) and slugging percentage (.532).
FANS' PICK -- JEFF KENT, Dodgers
SHORTSTOP -- FELIPE LOPEZ -- CINCINNATI REDS
The Reds didn't even have him in their Opening Day lineup. But Lopez has outproduced every shortstop in the league (.303, 13 homers, 45 RBIs).
FANS' PICK -- DAVID ECKSTEIN, Cardinals
THIRD BASE -- MORGAN ENSBERG -- HOUSTON ASTROS
Houston's best clutch hitter (.313 with runners in scoring position) led NL third basemen in homers (20, five short of his career high) and RBIs (54).
FANS' PICK -- SCOTT ROLEN, Cardinals
CATCHER -- RAMON HERNANDEZ -- SAN DIEGO PADRES
Where have you gone, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter? Hernandez, who's on the DL with an injured left wrist, earns the spot with his superior defense.
FANS' PICK -- MIKE PIAZZA, Mets
OUTFIELD -- MIGUEL CABRERA -- FLORIDA MARLINS
Imagine how good he'll be when he grows up. Cabrera, 22, has hit better than .300 in each of the three months this season and batted .344 with runners in scoring position.
FANS' PICK -- JIM EDMONDS, Cardinals
OUTFIELD -- ANDRUW JONES -- ATLANTA BRAVES
Jones, the major league leader in home runs at week's end (25), is keeping the Braves afloat with what may be his first-ever 40-homer season.
FANS' PICK -- CARLOS BELTRAN, Mets
OUTFIELD -- BOBBY ABREU -- PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Abreu leads all NL outfielders in OPS (.982), hits 67 points higher with runners on base (.348) than without (.281) and has stolen 20 bases in 23 tries.
FANS' PICK -- ABREU
STARTING PITCHER -- ROGER CLEMENS -- HOUSTON ASTROS
Clemens has been better than Dontrelle Willis, with a lower ERA (1.50 to 2.04), more K's (104 to 85) and a lower opponent batting average (.182 to .253). The Astros have scored two or fewer runs in half of his 16 starts.
RELIEF PITCHER -- CHAD CORDERO -- WASHINGTON NATIONALS
He's been everything you want in a closer: He doesn't walk batters (10 in 41.1 innings), keeps the ball in the ballpark (three homers allowed), has strikeout stuff and is fearless with the game on the line.