Five Tigers deserve All-Star roster spots for the American League

Starting pitcher Rick Porcello is having a breakout season in 2014.

Starting pitcher Rick Porcello is having a breakout season in 2014.

Tonight at 7 PM EST, the rosters of the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be announced live on ESPN.

There was a time when the Detroit Tigers had to scrape to find a player to send to the All-Star Game. From 1995-2003, the team had just one player represent them at the Midsummer Classic each season, and there were several years when no one deserved it. But MLB rules state that each team has to be represented by someone, so we got All-Stars like Justin Thompson, Damion Easley, Todd Jones, and Robert Fick. Even Brad Ausmus was tabbed as an All-Star as a Detroiter, in 1999, when he was a good, but certainly not star-quality catcher for the Tigers.

But in recent years the Tigers have had several All-Stars every season. Last year six Tigers were in the ASG, including Max Scherzer who started for the AL squad. One year earlier, Justin Verlander started the game. Miguel Cabrera has made the All-Star team the last four years, and of course he deserves it.

Cabrera will be in Minnesota on July 15th, starting at first base for the American League. He leads AL first sackers in voting by a comfortable margin, and as a Triple Crown winner and two-time defending Most Valuable Player, he’ll be one of the brightest stars on the diamond that evening. Here are four of Miggy’s teammates who also deserve to be All-Stars in 2014:

Victor Martinez: If there was a Most Valuable Tiger Award for the first half of the season, VMart would get it. He’s been consistently great from both sides of the plate and he’s helped fans forget about Prince Fielder in the cleanup spot. Victor has 21 homers already, making it almost certain that he will eclipse his career high of 25. Though he’s been sidelined for the last few days with a side injury, Martinez is a professional hitter who will smack line drives as soon as he’s back. If anyone can wrestle the batting championship away from Cabrera, it’s VMart, a career .300 hitter who has no weakness at the dish.

Ian Kinsler: Does anyone miss Prince Fielder now? Kinsler has been a big spark for the Detroit offense, he leads the AL in multi-hit games, and he’s on pace for 120 runs scored, 200 hits, 50 doubles, 20 homers, and 18 stolen bases. Of course, on pace can go off track, but Kinsler isn’t going into any Prince-like batting funks, and odds are he’ll finish up somewhere around those numbers. Outside of Robinson Cano, no other second baseman in the AL has had as good a first half as Kinsler. And Ian has been fancy with the leather too: according to advanced fielding stats, Kinsler has been one of the 2-3 best defenders at the keystone position through the first three months of the season. Kinsler won’t get the votes to make the All-Star team, but he deserves to be nabbed as a reserve.

Max Scherzer: Max isn’t far off from his 2013 form. His ERA is a tick higher, but some of that can be attributed to bad luck. He got a ton of run support last season, which is why he rarely lost, and it isn’t a surprise that he’s had several no-decisions this season in games where he pitched well enough to win. Scherzer is actually striking out batters at a higher rate than last season, and is on pace to increase his season high in K’s for a third straight campaign. He’s among league leaders in wins (10), strikeouts (139), and he’s dominant enough that he’ll get picked by the league to be on the pitching staff in Minnesota.

Rick Porcello: Aren’t you glad the Tigers didn’t trade Porcello in the offseason? The tall, slim 25-year old (doesn’t it seem like he’s been pitching for a decade?) has taken a leap forward this season. Currently he is second in the AL with 11 victories and he’s outperformed Scherzer and Justin Verlander and ranks ahead of his more famous rotation mates in the total pitching evaluation categories. Porcello has a 25+ innings scoreless streak right now on the strength of his first two shutouts. As he always has, Porcello is walking very few batters and he’s getting groundouts, lots of groundouts (17 in his most recent shutout). He isn’t dazzling or overpowering like Mad Max and JV, or even Anibal Sanchez, but Porcello is having a great season and seems to be gaining confidence each time he toes the rubber. He may not be a popular pick because his ERA isn’t in the top ten and he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but Slick Rick should be in the Twin Cities next week as an All-Star.