Well the 2009 All-Star game is almost here, and the races are certainly heating up a few positions. I’ve personally always felt that a fan voting system for All-Star starters is flawed, because while there will always be deserving players who don’t make the game, you hate to see guys getting a start when someone far more deserving should be out there. This seems to particularly be the case in 2009, as several positions are being led by players who should not be in such a position. Those individual cases will be address throughout, but below is my assessment of who is most deserving to start the game, make the team as a reserve, and which players are deserving but just miss the cut. I’ve done my best to make judgment calls without emotion or bias towards a particular player. The picks are as objective as one could be in performing a subjective task.
Starter: Justin Morneau
Reserve: Miguel Cabrera
Apologies to: Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, and even Russell Branyan
This position has a ton of depth, perhaps the most of any in the AL. Youkilis’ stock dropped because of some time spent on the DL, but he does lead first basemen in OPS. Teixeira may be clocking homeruns and driving in a plethora of runs, but his low average and the inflated homerun rate at Yankee Stadium don’t help his cause. Morneau continues to fly under the radar. He is my pick as the starter, but I would have no problem reserving him and having Cabrera as the starter. Morneau is showing .313/19/64, which is a damn good line. He was solid in April (.318/5/18) while Mauer was on the DL. And while he had been having a poor month of June, his last couple games in which he homered twice and drove in 3 have put it on par with April. Cabrera, meanwhile, leads the position with a .332 batting average, and he’s sporting 16 homers and 47 RBI (all better than Youk) with punch and judy hitter Magglio Ordonez behind him. And poor Russell Branyan. The guy is batting over .300 and has hit 19 homeruns. Unfortunately his team sucks, and no one is ever on base; 12 of those shots have been solo jacks and he only has 40 RBI. Ridiculous.
Starter: Aaron Hill
Reserve: Robinson Cano
Apologies to: Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Brian Roberts
This is an absolute no-brainer. Hill has been ridiculous, and you have to wonder if he’ll slow down at any point. The LSU product, once compared to Garrett Chin (or was it the other way around? Either way, it was inaccurate.) has hit .305, clubbed 19 homers and driven in 56 runs. Who would’ve thought? No one, that’s who. There’s no way anyone ever saw this coming, which makes it even more incredible. And he’s been doing this mostly out of the 2-hole for a team that has been inconsistent both offensively and in the win column.
Cano has been solid with a .300/12/42 line. But he’s dropped off from that fast start he had in April. To me, he should get the nod over Pedroia and Kinsler, who are battling it out for the starting position and I can’t figure out why. Kinsler is hitting .267. Sure he’s got 19 homers, 51 RBI and is 16-18 in stolen bases, but that average is brutal and it just keeps getting worse. Remember when he was hitting .300? Hasn’t been since the middle of May; he’s hitting .245 since the start of May. And Pedroia is having a rather pedestrian season. .287 is nothing to sneeze at, and there’s no power there. His SB success rate is down from last year, as well. Roberts will most likely never be an All-Star again in his career, which is sad because he’s consistently good every single year. This year is no different. Across the board his numbers are better than Pedroia. And yet he’s not even in the top-5 in voting. Hill is currently fourth in the voting, and I’m blown away by that. It’s situations like this where we should realize how flawed the fan voting system is. And that’s not the only one either. Once the starters are announced I’ll have more to discuss on that end.
Starter: Evan Longoria
Reserve: Michael Young
Apologies to: Brandon Inge, Scott Rolen, Chone (Shawn?) Figgins
Another no brainer here, and thankfully justice will most likely be served. Sadly, we’re looking at an All-Star game without A-Rod. Even worse is that he has absolutely no argument to play in this game. Longoria is far and away the best at his position. His average has dropped significantly over the past month (he’s hitting .233 in June), but .300 is where he’ll most likely be come the end of the year. The power numbers are there, and it’s crazy to think that he’s only been in the bigs for a calendar year.
For the reserves, it’s gotta go to Young. The guy made the move from short to third to make room for up and comer Elvis Andrus, the Rangers shortstop of the future. He made no fuss about the transition, and his numbers show how selfless a player he is; they haven’t sputtered. Inge could be just as deserving. While his average is a good 40 points or so below Young, he leads the position in homeruns (18) and has driven in 52 runs. He’s been crushing the ball, and he also leads the BBTN clubhouse on the web gems leaderboard. Rolen and Figgins are quietly having nice seasons as well, but most likely haven’t done enough to warrant a spot in the game.
Starter: Jason Bartlett
Reserve: Derek Jeter
Apologies to: Julio Lugo (kidding), Nick Green (also kidding), Jed Lowrie (still kidding)
Let’s face it: this is a seriously weak position in terms of talent and depth. Sure, Jeter and Bartlett are both having great seasons, but beyond that there’s no one even worth mentioning and still being taken seriously. I looked yesterday and saw that Jeter is 17 for 18 in steals. That’s ridiculous. Where did that even come from? Not to mention he’s hitting .307 with 9 homers and 32 RBI, but he’s one of those guys that should be penciled in to start the All-Star game every year by default unless someone is playing out of this world.
This year just so happens to be that year.
Starter: Joe Mauer
Reserve: Victor Martinez
Apologies to: A.J. Pierzynski
Same situation as shortstop, but even more different. Mauer has been off the chain since he returned in May from the DL. He went on to hit .414/11/32 in the month of May. Right now he sits overall at .383/14/43. Safe to say he’s returned to planet Earth, especially in the power department, but the numbers are still ridiculous.
Apologies to: Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, Torii Hunter, Nick Markakis, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye
I don’t know how many reserves they’ll take, so saying that, I’ll just offer apologies to certain players instead of listing reserves as well.
Torii Hunter may be the most deserving of the reserve candidates to start. He’s having a solid season at .306/17/57, anchoring a lineup that didn’t have Vlad for a while and still doesn’t really have him as he’s brought nothing to the table. Granderson’s average sucks but his power numbers are startling when you look at his wiry frame. Markakis could hit for a little more power but he’s driving in runs and teetering around .300. Jones, meanwhile, has really hit the skids in June, but his overall body of work is impressive. Damon leads the
Since the game is in an NL park this year, the DH position doesn’t work out. Sorry to Adam Lind, who is hitting .312 with 15 homers and 52 RBI. He should make the team as an alternate and certainly get an AB. A guy like Jason Kubel (.308/13/42) kind of gets jobbed here, as well. Another guy that should make the ASG IMO (gay, I know) is Ben Zobrist. At what position? Who knows, who cares. He pretty much qualifies for all 9 of them, so put him wherever you want. But you can’t deny he’s been lights out in the first half, and he didn’t even play regularly until Iwamura went down in late May. At .290/16/46, the guy has been a tremendous pick up for that lineup and their offense hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s 8 for 10 in steals, too.
Starter: Zack Geinke
Reserves: Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Kevin Millwood, Felix Hernandez, Edwin Jackson, Cliff Lee
Apologies to: Josh Beckett, Jered Weaver, Tim Wakefield
Since we’re dealing with a lot of names here, I won’t include everyone’s stats, just a brief idea of why I feel they’re deserving. Greinke gets the start, but I feel had Halladay not gone on the DL, he could have warranted it instead. Greinke has an ERA over 4 in the month of June which could have swayed the opinion of those making the decision, Halladay wasn’t great in his return and the overall numbers lean towards Greinke. Verlander has been lights out since a rough April and leads the league in K’s. Millwood has a sub-3 ERA pitching in a park where careers go to die. King Felix is finally realizing his potential, and his last 7 starts are evidence of that.
But if Beckett goes out and tosses a gem against the Orioles today, whom he’s had some trouble dealing with in the past, he could edge out Lee. Like Hernandez, Beckett has been great over his last 7 starts. Just ask Heidi Watney, she’ll tell you all about it. Oh wait, no she won’t, she missed out on that question. Weaver has come out of nowhere to help hold together a pitching staff that started the season with its three best pitchers on the DL. And
Relievers: Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Frankie Francisco, David Aardsma, Mariano Rivera
Apologies to: Bobby Jenks, Scott Downs, JP Howell, Joakim Soria
Papelbon, Nathan and Rivera are no surprise. Francisco and Aardsma certainly are. And they’ve earned it. You could argue there are guys with more saves who are more deserving, and the fact that Francisco spent time on the DL and Aardsma took over late after Morrow blew (literally and figuratively). But both have provided such stability to fledgling pitching staffs, that I feel they should be rewarded. Francisco only has 12 saves, but a 1.23 ERA. Aardsma has 16 stops with a 1.49 ERA, and both have only blown one save opportunity.
Jenks gets the shaft because of his ERA, which is above 3. That’s unacceptable. Soria was also on the DL but hasn’t worked as much as Francisco.
Starter: Albert Pujols
Reserve: Prince Fielder
Apologies to: Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Todd Helton
Here’s a question: Which league has the better pool of first basemen? Hard to tell in my eyes. The one thing helping the NL is that it has Albert Pujols. Either he or Longoria are the most clear cut choice at a position. His numbers are staggering: .332/30/77 with an OBP of .453 and OPS of 1.197. That’s absolutely ridiculous. The guy is the best hitter in the game currently not suspended.
Fielder is my choice as the reserve over notables such as
Starter: Chase Utley
Apologies to: Freddy Sanchez, Felipe Lopez, Skip Schumaker and Clint Barmes
This is kind of a weak position for the NL, certainly in terms of depth when compared to the
Guys like Sanchez, Lopez Schumaker and Barmes are all having nice seasons, but neither can stack up against Utley, and
Starter: Hanley Ramirez
Reserve: Miguel Tejada
Apologies to: Christian Guzman, Yunel Escobar,
So much for the NL’s “Big Three”. Ramirez is still king, and it’s incredible to see his numbers (.341/13/56) after he got off to such a mediocre start in April. He only had 2 homers and 12 RBI, but a big May really jumpstarted things for him. Jose Reyes has been on the DL for a large part of the season, and Rollins just flat out stinks right now. That leaves us with the former MVP, juicehead and senior citizen Tejada. He’s stroking at .332 right now and has some decent power numbers. The RBI total is second only to Ramirez among shortstops, and he’s tied for second in runs scored, also behind Ramirez.
Guzman is hitting for average like he always does when he’s healthy, but there’s no power there at all. Escobar is having a well rounded season, but the average could use a boost up from .291 to get further consideration.
Starter: David Wright
Reserve: Pablo Sandoval
Apologies to: Ryan Zimmerman, Pedro Feliz, Chipper Jones, Casey Blake, Mark Reynolds
Wow, there’s some serious talent and depth at the hot corner in the NL. I wouldn’t have a problem seeing any of these guys playing in the All-Star game because they’ve all performed well across the board or extremely well in one or two categories. The starter should probably be Wright, but certainly not because of his power. His game has changed in that he doesn’t hit as many homeruns, but he’s hitting .345, has driven in 42 runs and stolen 20, yes that’s right 20, bases. Part of the production problem is the Mets offense being so stagnant these days. Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, et al have had injury troubles, and he’s really the only significant hitter remaining in the lineup. The Mets are trotting out a JV lineup with one kid in the lineup that should be playing on Varsity, let’s look at it that way.
The reserve situation is a little hairy. Sandoval is probably the most deserving, albeit unexpected candidate on the board. If you wanted to get really fussy, you could probably argue he should start over Wright. He’s hitting 40 points higher than Zimmerman, and he only has two less homeruns and four less RBI. Not only that, but his OBP, SLG and OPS are all much, much higher.
Also missing out are a crop of third basemen who are having great starts to 2009. Chipper Jones is off pace from last year’s torrid start in a big way, but by no means are his numbers paltry. Casey Blake came out of nowhere in May to post a .353/4/18 line, which was huge after Manny got suspended. He has cooled off a bit in June but the overall numbers are still extremely respectable. Feliz, meanwhile, hasn’t done much except drive in runs when guys like Utley, Howard and Werth can’t do it…he has been struggling lately, including an 0 for 19 slump after I picked him up in one of my ESPN leagues, but not a bad season so far for a guy buried in a potent Phillies’ lineup. But he’s batting .500 with 2 bombs and 3 RBI in his last 3 games which makes me feel good. Reynolds is turning into Adam Dunn with a higher average, although not by much. This guy drops bombs but strikes out at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, you can’t dispute the guy’s power, it’s legit. Get him in the Homerun Derby
Starter: Brian McCann
Reserve: Yadier Molina
Apologies to: Ugh, I don’t know, Bengie Molina and Chris Iannetta?
I know McCann has missed time and AB’s but the gap between him and the next best catcher is as wide as the
Bengie and Iannetta are the next best options, but if either of those guys start or play in the All-Star game, I’ll no longer watch.
Starters: Ryan Braun, Brad Hawpe, Raul Ibanez
Apologies to: Justin Upton, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Matt Kemp, Carlos Beltran
Couple DL guys here in Ibanez and Beltran. Ibanez should be healthy in time for the game, so he definitely gets a start. The guy is crushing and on pace to dominate any season highs he’s had in the power department. Hawpe is third in RBI, Braun second among outfielders; Ibanez is the leader and he’s been out for two weeks. But Hawpe and Braun find themselves in the top 5 in average, RBI, OBP, SLG and OPS.
Starter: Dan Haren
Reserves: Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo, Javier Vasquez, Johan Santana
As much as I want Matt Cain to get the nod, it has to go to Haren here, especially after he did it again last night with 7 innings and only 1 run on 4 hits and 9 K’s. It’s fairly obvious. The guy pitches for a shitty team, so his record stinks, but he leads the NL in ERA, IP and WHIP and is second in CG and third in K’s.
The only debate can be issued with the final spot. Does it go to Santana or Billingsley? Much like Torii Hunter winning a Gold Glove every year, I say it goes to Santana just because the numbers are so close and he’s the incumbent. Duke, however, could sneak in as the Pirates pick. Unless that goes to Freddy Sanchez at second base. That will leave someone out who is more deserving.
Relievers: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Heath
Apologies to: Brian Wilson,
I don’t know who is more deserving to serve as the “closer” in this game.
So there you have it. Please keep in mind that these stats do not reflect the games played today,