It’s another year where the Yankees rule them all. Or do they? The positions on the all-star ballots for this year’s All-Star Game being held at Angel Stadium in California are usually tilted slightly in favor of the reigning World Series champs, but this year, there have been a few interesting picks that may dethrone some Evil Empire stars from their seats of honor.
The major question that always remains is: Do these Yankees really deserve their spots? Well, for one thing, we can all celebrate that Mr. Teixeira on the Yankees has been kicked out of his top ballot standing by obvious deserving Twin; Justin Morneau. As opposed to Teixeira’s awful .226 average, Morneau is hitting .342 with 3 more home runs and 5 more RBIs than Tex.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each position and see who truly qualifies statistically, and who is just winning in a popularity concert.
Starting with first basemen, it is obvious that Morneau is easily more deserving of the starting spot than Teixeira. His OBP is .452 (compared to Mark’s .346), SLG is .617 (compared to .397), and his OPS is a whopping 1.069 (compared to a low .742). But is there anybody who is putting up even better numbers than Morneau? Miguel Cabrera is the first name that comes to mind. Why, you may ask. Well, compared to Morneau’s 13 HRs, Cabrera has 19, with higher SLG percentage, along with more RBIs and runs scored. On the other hand, Morneau’s OBP and OPS are higher than Cabrera’s, along with an 11 point raise on the overall average. At this point, Morneau seems to be a lock after overcoming Teixeira’s first push, and is now up about 180,000 votes in the standings (almost 400,000 above Cabrera). While nobody would argue with Cabrera getting the spot, he has had a recent surge of power (10 of his 19 HRs have come since May 23), which does not help in the voting that started in mid-April. To push Morneau over the top, he has only 1 error on the year with a .998 fielding percentage, while Cabrera has 7 errors with a .988, so there is a huge difference there also.
True Pick: Justin Morneau
Honorable Mention: Miguel Cabrera
On to the second baseman. Being an Orioles fan, it is even hard for me to disagree with the obvious pick here; Robinson Cano. If I was a fan of an NL team, as in I didn’t hate the Yankees as much, I would have no problem voting for Cano this year. The man has proven that his long, lost bat can finally come to power. He is hitting .370 on the year, with 14 HRs and 20 doubles. The second-highest vote getter, of course being on the Red Sox, is Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is hitting .271 on the year, and only has 5 stolen bases, a statistical category that he usually excels in. This vote is a no-brainer, and even from my point of view, there is no argument to write off the accomplishments of Cano so far. Of course, Ty Wiggington could fight for the write-in spot here to be the Orioles sole representative in the game, but he of course is no where close to the votes needed to beat Cano (and in no way deserves it either). Cano is a whopping 800,000 votes ahead of Pedroia. And if anybody were to challenge Cano for his spot, it should be Ben Zobrist, who is currently in 5th in voting. While Zobrist’s stats are still quite far from Cano’s he comes closest in all areas of topping him (except homeruns, where Wigginton actually is only one behind Cano). Not to mention the fact that Cano has been brilliant on defense this year, making gold glove valued plays all around.
True Pick: Robinson Cano
Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist
Moving to the other corner infielder, we have the third baseman leader Evan Longoria. Another spot that is often taken by Yankees own Alex Roidriguez, Longoria has won over many fans with his power style hitting along with a high caliber fielding also. Are A-Rod’s stats good enough to afford him the spot, even though he is down 650,000+ in the voting? Is Longoria even deserving of the top rank? No and yes. Surprisingly, there are two guys who should be afforded the opportunity to take this spot. The one that stands out? Adrian Beltre of the Boston Red Sox. Beltre is hitting .336, 20 points above Longoria and 45 over A-Rod. Where his faults come in are at being an all around offensive player. Even with the lower average, Longoria has more doubles, triples, RBIs, walks, and stolen bases, which is why he also owns the categories of OBP, SLG, and OPS. Michael Young even deserves the spot over Rodriguez, hitting .320 with 21 doubles.
True Pick: Evan Longoria
Honorable Mention: Adrian Beltre
Heading home, we come upon the catcher position. What name always comes to mind these days when thinking catcher (let alone AL)? Joe Mauer. Mauer is leading the AL voting for catcher over current runner-up Victor Martinez by a substantial 1,700,000 votes. Does he deserve it? Actually, this race in stats is a lot closer than most people realize. While Mauer is hitting .311 to V-Mart’s .295 (also with OBP .391 over .346), Martinez has 8 HRs to Mauer’s 2, 35 RBIs to Mauer’s 28, and a SLG percentage of .493 to Mauer’s .439. Yes, Mauer has more walks and runs scored, but in the long run, I see Martinez as the bigger contributor this season to his team in the long haul effort to score more runs. Where Mauer may have another slight edge? He has picked off 9-33 baserunners stealing (27%) while Martinez has only gotten 11-61 (18%).
True Pick: Victor Martinez
Honorable Mention: Joe Mauer
Back out to the 6 slot, as baseball position numbers go, the shortstop with the biggest name in the game, maybe the biggest name out of any position in all of baseball, is Derek Jeter. Also like Cano at 2B, there is not much argument against Jeter winning this spot on the roster for what would be his 15th time, 8th in a row. Batting only 2 points in average below runner-up Elvis Andrus, Jeter outright kills Andrus in every other stat category (it doesn’t help that Elvis has no HRs this year). With a surprising pick, a guy who is 5th in votes, Alex Gonzalez should be given a shot at the All-Star game this year. Though hitting .273 (13 points below Jeter), Gonzalez has 5 more homeruns and 4 more doubles than Jeter. Only trailing Jeter in RBIs by two, Gonzalez beats Derek out by a longshot in SLG and OPS. Where Mr. Gonzalez has problems? He has 53 strikeouts to Jeter’s 39, and only 13 walks to Jeter’s 20. If debating, Jeter is the easier option to argue, mainly for his name and team, but I like Alex Gonzalez here. He is a big play guy who is pushing it with the Blue Jays to be a big slugging type hitter of the future. There is absolutely no bias being put into this pick here.
True Pick: Alex Gonzalez
Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter
Going, going, gone! The outfield picks in the AL this year are complicated. There are a bunch of guys who deserve it in different areas, and it all comes down to which categories mean most to each individual in terms of defining an all-star caliber player. Click here to see the stats comparison of those in the running, and see below my picks for the spots. I am a guy who looks at the percentages (AVG, OBP, OPS, SLG) along with RBIs and extra-base hits the most. That is how I was able to pick my core of guys. No, I did not pick Ichiro. Ichiro, though he may be on a horrible offensive team, does not produce or score very many runs, and also does not hit very many extra baggers. His average may be incredible, but that is about all that he has going for him. Hey, on almost any other team, Nick Markakis could be putting up all-star numbers year in and year out, but I don’t complain. These are the things that count.
True Picks: Josh Hamilton, Magglio Ordonez, Carl Crawford
Honorable Mentions: Ichiro, David DeJesus, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Alex Rios
The designated hitter slot in the lineup is one that needs to be filled in by a power player that really can hit. It is inexcusable for teams to have a DH in that does not hit well. With no argument here, the DH for the AL should be Vladimir Guerrero. He is hitting .336 with 14 HRs and 54 RBIs, and besides the fact that those are legitimate quality numbers for a DH, there is nobody else that even qualifies and comes close to touching him in the main categories.
True Pick: Vladimir Guerrero
Honorable Mention: Ken Griffey Jr. (hey, why not?)
Looking at pitchers, there are, of course, the few that deserve spots no matter what for their outstanding performance so far this season. Guys like David Price, Any Pettite, Clay Buchholz, and Jeff Niemann should be easy targets for Girardi on his squad. Since the fans do not get to vote on pitchers, behind the scenes guys that don’t start but are putting up impressive numbers like Sergio Santos, Matt Guerrier, Joel Zumaya, and even Jason Berken all deserve chances at playing in the all-star game. That being said, the pitchers in relief are have been in the past mostly other starters, with a stud reliever thrown in here and there (see Mariano Rivera and Jonathon Papelbon).
Well, that just about wraps up the American League. Here is a summary of the lineups. I thought they would be a lot more skewed than they are, but I guess since Longoria and Morneau took over their spots, the lineup has evened out a bit more. The first name listed (bold) is the current leader in votes while the second name (not bold) is my pick as the player who deserves the spot most going by statistics
1B: Justin Morneau, Justin Morneau
2B: Robinson Cano, Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter, Alex Gonzalez
3B: Evan Longoria, Evan Longoria
C: Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez
DH: Vladimir Guerrero, Vladimir Guerrero
OF: Ichiro, Carl Crawford, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Magglio Ordonez, Carl Crawford