Major League Baseball announced the 2010 All-Star Game rosters, with the Bay Area being represented by Trevor Cahill of the Oakland A's and Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants. All three are incredibly deserving of their roster spots. Cahill battled back from losing the fifth start battle in spring training and is now 8-2 with a 2.74 era. Lincecum continues his strong run as he leads the NL in strikeouts and holds an 8-4 record with a 3.28 ERA. Brian Wilson has quietly put together a dominant 2010 with 22 saves, a 2.04 ERA and only two blown saves.
However, as we look back at the first half of the 2010 Major League Baseball season, the Bay Area has some solid baseball players deserving of recognition. While they might not be quite on the level of "All-Stars," they've all put together solid seasons. The A's and Giants are battling at the .500 mark, but head into the All-Star Break within striking distance of first place, and it's due in no small part to these guys.
1. Andrew Bailey
After representing the team in the 2009 All-Star Game, Andrew Bailey has avoided the sophomore slump in 2010. Bailey has appeared in 33 games, locking down 17 saves with a 1.59 ERA and only three blown saves. He is representative of an A's bullpen that has put together some great numbers for most of this season. If the A's bullpen can continue to hold down leads, the A's have a solid chance at remaining in the playoff race. The starting pitching has been quite strong, but part of that could very well be due to the confidence they have in their bullpen.
2. Buster Posey
We've heard a ton of talk about rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg and his case for the 2010 NL All-Star team. Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves is another rookie whose performance has perked up the ears of fans and the media alike. And yet, if we're considering strong rookie campaigns, how about first baseman and catcher Buster Posey? Posey appeared in seven games last season, but in his first full campaign at the MLB level, Posey is sporting an average over .300 and has quietly put together a solid rookie campaign.
I was tempted to go with fellow infielder Aubrey Huff at this spot. Huff has bounced back from some quiet years with an impressive 2010 campaign that is probably more complete than that of Posey. However, part of the All-Star selection process involves "star" quality. And among Giants fans, I'd like to think more folks would like to see Posey on an All-Star team than Huff.
3. Kurt Suzuki
Suzuki's numbers don't exactly blown your mind. He's hitting .252 with 10 home runs and spent three weeks on the disabled list. And yet, I can't imagine many A's fans would discount what Suzuki has meant to the 2010 A's in terms of the young pitching staff. After Justin Duchscherer went down with another injury, the A's staff was left with veteran Ben Sheets, quasi-veteran Dallas Braden, and youngsters Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and now Vin Mazzaro. Landon Powell has certainly been a solid backup, but Suzuki has really helped to mold the pitching staff. Since replacing Jason Kendall as the A's catcher, Suzuki has been nothing short of awesome in his handling of the pitching staff.
4. Matt Cain
While Lincecum is the rock star of the San Francisco Giants' rotation, Matt Cain is the bulldog of the rotation. Cain currently holds a 6-7 record with a 2.98 ERA. If you needed proof of how useless wins truly are as a statistic, Cain would be a strong piece of evidence in your favor. Cain certainly gets love from Giants fans, but he also goes fairly unappreciated outside of the Bay Area. With no more than three "bad" starts, Cain has been close to awesome for the Giants, capped by a one-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 28.
5. Dave Righetti/Curt Young
This is a bit of a cop-out for this last spot. However, the performance of the A's and Giants pitching staffs have been incredibly solid in 2010, and the pitching coaches certainly deserve a little bit of credit. Given the less-than-shocking struggles of the A's and Giants' offenses, the pitching has allowed both teams to remain competitive all season long. Neither team is blowing away the competition, but strong pitching has kept both squads in their respective divisional races. The Giants sit third in the majors with a 3.56 ERA, while the A's are eighth with a 3.89 ERA. The combination of strong starting pitching and strong bullpen work has afforded both teams the chance to get by with weak offenses. If either offense can come alive a bit more after the All-Star break, we could see some playoff action in the Bay Area this fall.