Boys of Summer

Old is out. From Beltre to Wright, SI's position-by-position All-Star selections are dominated by youth
July 11, 2010

Baseball in 2010 is a young man's game. Jermaine Dye, age 36, stayed home, Ken Griffey Jr., 41, went home, and Chipper Jones, 38, is thinking about home, all emblematic of a changing of the guard as the sport places greater value on youth. Of the top 70 OPS marks at week's end, only three belonged to players 35 or older. Of the 10 pitchers to win 10 games, only one has turned 30.

SI's All-Star team reflects this youth movement. Eighteen of our 20 All-Stars are between the ages of 23 and 31, which traditionally had been the sweet spot of a player's career, at least before performance-enhancing drugs changed baseball's actuarial tables. The toughest calls to make involved first base in each league. In the AL, the Twins' Justin Morneau and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera are contending for an MVP award and a Central Division title, just as the Reds' Joey Votto and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols are doing in the NL.

American League

C: Joe Mauer, 27,Twins

The power of Mauer is missing at home (.392 slugging, no homers), but he's still the best backstop.

1B: Miguel Cabrera, 27,Tigers

The AL's most complete hitter is even better post--alcohol rehab.

2B: Robinson Cano, 27,Yankees

With power (16 homers) and production (55 RBIs), the always-smooth hitter goes next level.

SS: Derek Jeter, 36,Yankees

The valedictorian of an unimpressive AL shortstop class.

3B: Adrian Beltre, 31,Red Sox

Only three third basemen have finished with a higher average than Beltre's .341.

LF: Josh Hamilton, 29,Rangers

Streaky hitter had a monster June (.454 average).

CF: Alex Rios, 29,White Sox

The Comeback Player of the Year favorite.

RF: Brennan Boesch, 25,Tigers

Detroit's outfielder is batting .478 on first and second pitches.

DH: Vladimir Guerrero, 35,Rangers

The majors' RBI leader (70) was a free-agent bargain.

P: David Price, 24,Rays

Former thrower has become a four-pitch pitcher.

National League

C: Miguel Olivo, 31,Rockies

Fourteen free-agent catchers changed teams in the off-season; Colorado got the right one.

1B: Albert Pujols, 30,Cardinals

Flip a coin between Pujols and Votto.

2B: Martin Prado, 26,Braves

The NL leader in hits (115) and batting average (.336).

SS: Hanley Ramirez, 26,Marlins

Lapse in hustle has marred another big season.

3B: David Wright, 27,Mets

The NL RBI leader (64) gets the edge over Scott Rolen.

LF: Josh Willingham, 31,Nationals

He tops all NL outfielders in OBP (.413).

CF: Colby Rasmus, 23,Cardinals

Wins a close call over the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.

RF: Andre Ethier, 28,Dodgers

No NL outfielder has a better OPS (.940).

DH: Joey Votto, 26,Reds

First Red since Pete Rose to reach base in 40 straight games.

P: Ubaldo Jimenez, 26,Rockies

Breakout ace gave up one run in his only loss in 17 starts (14--1).

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For more from Tom Verducci with baseball at its halfway point, go to SI.com/mlb

PHOTORICK OSENTOSKI/CAL SPORT MEDIA (CABRERA)WHO'S ON FIRST? Detroit's Cabrera (left) gets the slight nod over Morneau, with whom he's battling for the AL MVP award.
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