Tuesday, 22 June 2010

All Star Game Selections

Apologies for having not posted in a while. I’ve been far too busy job-hunting and getting excited about the World Cup. I’ve been working on a post about the value of W-L statistics and hope to have that up by the end of the week.

Until then, as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Association I will be posting my All-Star ballot for the 2010 season. I’m following the format used by MLB.com for this, plus I’ll include a pitching staff of 5 starters, a reliever and a closer from each league.

American League:


Victor Martinez (Boston Red Sox)

Obviously Joe Mauer is going to be voted into the All-Star game and, in all likelihood is going to star for the AL but V-Mart really deserves such consideration. Currently Victor is second to Jason Kendal in at bats for an American League catcher and is putting up better offensive numbers than Mauer. Mauer is of course hitting for a higher average but one could well argue that given that the entire twins offence is set up around him and Morneau he is underperforming in terms of production. V-Mart has had a fantastic June thus far and, as far as I can recall, hasn’t done anything too horrendous defensively for a while.

1st Base:

Justin Morneau (Minnesota Twins)

While Miguel Cabrera seems to be storming his way towards triple crown consideration I’m giving the nod to Morneau who is hitting .344/.455/.624 whilst playing for a team which has more offensive threats to share the RBI totals with than the one-dimensional Tigers. Honourable mention has to go to Billy Butler (who Kansas City need to sell the cow to keep hold of for as long as possible if they ever hope to contend again) and Kevin Youkilis. Ideally Youk would receive my vote here but, for the sake of impartiality and integrity I’m going to go with Morneau who is currently my hot pick for AL MVP too.

2nd Base:

Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)

It’s very difficult to see how anyone other than Cano is going to get any serious consideration for starting AL second baseman this year. Of course Dustin Pedroia will get into the game but that is entirely due to the fanaticism of the Red Sox ‘Nation’ rather than anything he has done on the field thus far in 2010. Cano however has finally fulfilled the enormous potential the Yankees have proclaimed he has (yes, I know he had 200+ hits last year but was still lost in the Teixiera, Jeter, A-Rod shuffle and never stood out as integral to the team) and is a strong bet for MVP (although I have my doubts about whether anyone playing for a Yankees team that stacked can ever meet the true definition of a valuable player).

3rd Base:

Adrian Beltre (Boston RedSox)

If you had told me that I would be voting Adrian Beltre onto the AL all-star team as a member of the Boston Red Sox this time last year I would have had you committed. However, despite my scepticism about whether Beltre could ever live up to his 2004 season he has been quietly magnificent for the Sox this year, powering an offense that (especially early on) was crying out for someone to take a lead. Beltre is hitting .333 and has 9HR and 44RBI. A year ago I would have said that I didn’t expect much more than that from him for the whole year. A third of the way through the season 2004’s 40+HR and 120 RBIs doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore. That said, I could do without some of his defensive ‘plays’ however.

Short Stop:

Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers)

Derek Jeter will be starting at SS for the American Leagues, that’s just a fact of life. However, this year (as with last year) one can make a very strong case for Jeter as the best SS in the AL. The same goes for Alex Gonzalez. Who would have thought he’d have hit 13 bombs thus far into the year (how many would he have hit at Fenway is a more depressing proposition). However, despite the strong cases for Jeter (who will get in anyway) and Gonzalez (who will probably taper off...he’d better) I’m going to have to give the vote to Elvis. Andrus leads AL short stops in batting average and stolen bases and is very much the catalyst that inspires the Rangers’ offense. Plus he’s a sophomore and deserves the chance to get his foot in the door as an all-star.


Shin Soo Choo (Cleveland Indians)

Admittedly this selection is based more on Choo’s excellence last year than his play thus far in 2010, although he’s been by far the most exciting hitter to suit up for the tribe this year. Now that Grady Sizemore is on his annual trip to the DL (and if you ask me if all but done as a top flight CF – see Baldelli, Rocco) Choo has taken over the dubious honour of constituting the entire Cleveland offence and probably deserve an all-star nod as compensation.

Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners)

It’s Ichiro, you can’t have an all-star game without Ichiro now can you? Ichiro should get into the all-star game on reputation alone but since he’s hitting for his usually ridiculous average he (once again) makes it in on met. Also, he hit an absolutely beautiful lead-off homer against St Louis the other day.

Austin Jackson (Detroit Tigers)

At the time of writing Jackson was still hitting over .300 and was leading AL rookies in most offensive categories. While I’m not particularly thrilled by the young CFs propensity to strike out at a Mark Reynolds clip one cannot fail to be impressed with his efforts thus far into his first big league season. As a Red Sox fan I can’t help but love watching Jackson succeed in Detroit whilst Curtis Granderson stinks up (then gets injured) in New York. Typical short-sighted Yankees trading at work. On a ‘well done Detroit for cultivating young stars’ notes if I wasn’t selecting Austin Jackson with this pick it would be Brandon Boesch getting the nod.

Designated Hitter:

Vlad Guerrero (Texas)

Apologies, completely forgot about the DH in my original voting. In a last ditch attempt to save the BBA All-Star voting system from being lopsided I'm voting for Vlad in the DH role. The reasons should be self-explanatory, he's having a massive year and could be an MVP (the comback award is already in the bag).

Starting Pitchers:

Jon Lester (Boston Red Sox)

I’ve been torn between Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz for my obligatory Red Sox pitching selection. I’m going to have to go with Jon as my pick as he’s finally taken over the ace mantle from the epically disappointing Josh Beckett. Honourable mention goes to Dice-K.

David Price (Tampa Bay Rays)

See Lester, Jon. Only better.

Mitch Talbot (Cleveland Indians)

There is rarely much to applaud in Cleveland once the Cavs are eliminated from the playoffs, and particularly since Hafner and Sizemore proved themselves fundamentally incapable of staying on a baseball field. Mitch Talbot, a Tampa Bay cast-off who was never given a proper chance by the Rays, is proving a genuine top of the rotation starter for the Indians and deserves an all-star nod. I’m not convinced he’ll still be an all-star come seasons end but still...

Phil Hughes (New York Yankees)

Even in my darkest Yankee-hating days I’ve always had a soft spot for Phil Hughes, and not just when seeing either him or Ian Kennedy at Fenway Park meant a guaranteed victory for the Sox. It’s nice to see him finally live up to all that potential.

Francisco Liriano (Minnesota Twins)

Liriano is another player I’ve always been impressed by and frustrated by in equal measure. A legitimate Cy Young calibre pitcher derailed by injury, Liriano looks to have finally shaken off the arm problems that have cost his years. If he can keep up this form he still has a chance to be as good as (if not better) CC Sabathia.

Relief Pitcher:

Sergio Santos (Chicago White Sox)

I’m always a big fan of these failed position players makes it as a pitcher (or vice versa) stories. I’d be happy enough letting Santos into the game just for that reason, but judging by the stats he’s been the most effective reliever in the American League to boot.


Jose Valverde (Detroit Tigers)

There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut number one closer in the AL for me to pick this season. I was sorely tempted by Rafael Soriano and Neftali Feliz, but in the end I’m going to have to go for Jose pretty much solely on the basis on looking the part and having the intimidation factor that I like to see in my closers.

National League


Ivan Rodriguez (Washington Nationals)

I didn’t really want to have to vote for Pudge, largely due to the fact that I absolutely cannot stand the guy. One doesn’t want to say controversial things and cast aspersions on players’ integrity online (Raul Ibanez will come and get you if you do) but I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that; if Jose Canseco says someone did ‘roids, they probably did. Still Pudge is having a resurgent season after spending the best part of 3 years as a bit-part player. He is hitting like the Pudge of old and deserves recognition for the work he is undoubtedly doing acclimatising Stephen Strasburg to the majors.

1st base:

Troy Glaus (Atlanta Braves)

Glaus is another play who I thought was all but done as a legitimate everyday major league player. However, the switch over to 1st and a few months of health seem to have turned the clock back about 5 years on Glaus and (at time of writing) is pretty much there or there-abouts at the top of all NL statistical categories.

2nd base:

Kelly Johnson (Arizona Diamondbacks)

This was always going be between Kelly Johnson (who admittedly has calmed down from his dizzying peak when he had the South West [well, Mark Grace at least] convinced that he was a re-incarnation of Babe Ruth) and his replacement (or ouster) in Atlanta; Martin Prado. I’m going to give the nod to Johnson just because he was the one who had to re-start his career elsewhere and is doing so admirably.

3rd base:

Scott Rolen (Cincinnati Reds)

Who doesn’t like Scott Rolen? The hard-working, gritty, tough, 3rd baseman with a little bit of pop in his bat? Precisely. Role is the sort of guy everyone wants to have in the all-star games because he play it the way its meant to be played. Plus, this season, after years of injuries, he’s actually playing like a bona fide all-star too. Special mention to Jorge Cantu too.

Short Stop:

Juan Uribe (San Francisco Giants)

How did this happen? Juan Uribe, ex-White Sox cast off second baseman who I expected to spend much of this year sitting on the Giants’ bench, occasionally spot starting has 10HR and 41 RBIs in mid June! Normally this NL SS pick would have gone to Hanley Ramirez just because of my general love of the guy, not to mention that he’d be a perennial MVP if he played for a proper baseball team. However Hanley’s reputation has taken a bit of a bruising thus far in 2010 and while there is still a strong all-star case to be made for Ramirez (who is statistically the best SS in the NL) I think that based on performance, exceeded expectations and crucially, given the criticism Hanley has received, hard work and determination, Juan Uribe has to be the NL short stop.


Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves)

The anointed one can’t miss the all-star game now can he? Heyward is slumping lately but one could hardly blame his given that he is being asked to carry the future of Atlanta baseball on his 20 year old shoulders. Still his numbers are all star calibre even with the slump and it does the game of baseball good to celebrate exciting young stars like Heyward and Jackson at the midsummer classic. I imagine that the BBWA will be straining themselves trying to find anyway possible to vote Heyward the NL APA (Albert Pujols Award) come September, he might not make it too hard for them.

Colby Rasmus (St Louis Cardinals)

Colby Rasmus is going to win an MVP award in the next 5 years. I’ve watched a lot of Cardinals games thus far this year and Rasmus really stands out as the ‘straw that stirs the drink’ on that team. Obviously the Cards are Albert’s team first and foremost but even Pujols needs a number 2 and given that Matt Holliday really doesn’t seem to be as advertised outside of Coors Fields, 2010 could well be Colby’s chance to shine.

Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)

I ummed and ahhed about this one and thought long and hard about whether I wanted to use the last remaining outfield slot to vote in Chris Young (who is having a lovely season and finally living up to his potential in Arizona), or for Josh Willingham (a perennial second level talent who is putting up big numbers for the Nats). However I think that the young Pittsburgh CF has the edge on the competition and deserves a spot on the all-star roster for being so cruelly overlooked for last years rookie of the year competition.

Starting Pitching:

Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado Rockies)

I don’t see much point in going into too much detail here, Ubaldo is 13-1 with a microscopic ERA. He will win the Cy Young award, no matter how many perfectos Roy Halladay throws.

Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)

Like with the likely runner up in the NL Cy Young race. Doc has been every bit as good as advertised since making the leap from the AL to the NL. The only surprise with Roy’s 2010 thus far has been the 8-6 Win Loss record, but, given that he has a sub 3.00 ERA, this less than stellar record is entirely the fault of the misfiring Phillies offence (plus that night that Boston hammered the hell out of Doc).

Jon Garland (San Diego Padres)

I’ve always been a big fan of Jon Garland and pitchers like him. Never flashy, never a dominant ace, Garland just goes out there every 5th day and makes his team better and gives them a chance to win. The success of the Padres (and particularly the success of the woeful on paper Padres rotation) is largely due to Garland’s stable, veteran presence. He could be the most ‘valuable’ pitcher on this list.

Josh Johnson (Florida Marlins)

Halladay’s arch nemesis has been every bit as good as his rival thus far this season, including two memorable face-offs one of which was Halladay’s perfect game. The Marlins really did the right things in securing Johnson’s services going forward. Given Hanley Ramirez’ problems Johnson is looking more and more like the face of the franchise.

Mike Pelfrey (New York Mets)

How did this happen? A Mets pitcher in the all-star game and it’s not Johan? Still, while it’s not something that many would have predicted back in February, Pelfrey has probably been the most effective starter in the NL East thus far and thoroughly deserves his all-star place.

Relief Pitcher

Jason Motte (St Louis Cardinals)

Motte is pretty much the only guy I’m voting for here that has no chance of making it to Anaheim in July. But he should. The hard-throwing righty has been beyond solid for the Cards this year, appearing in a ton of games and maintaining a mid 2 ERA throughout. I can’t help but think that the Cardinals were a bit too hasty giving up on this guy as a closer. Certainly, if they aren’t able to keep Motte long term he could definitely become a big name closer elsewhere.


Billy Wagner (Atlanta Braves)

Admittedly this is very much a ‘so-long and goodbye’ pick, letting a hall of the very good closer go out with a nice thank you. Wagner deserves it too, 90% of the baseball world thought he was done after losing much of 2009 to injury (and having the Mets inexplicably sign two all-star closers didn’t help) but Billy deserves major credit for contributing to the Red Sox’ playoff run in 2009 and re-establishing himself as a premier closer with the resurgent Braves in 2010.

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