A few days ago, I filled out my first All-Star ballot of the year. I usually get around to completing many more than just one, but each time I do so is a completely different exercise in reviewing the stats all over again (i.e. not stuffing the ballot box with the same names multiple times). With the deadline looming in less than a week, this may be my one-and-only, so I thought I'd let you know who you should be voting for, starting with the American League.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera's having a great year, and is the closest thing baseball has to a Triple Crown candidate, but he's committed nine errors, more than twice as many as any other AL first baseman except Daric Barton. Justin Morneau's offensive numbers are only slightly less impressive than Cabrera's, and he's a capable defender, so he gets my vote. It looks like the public sentiment agrees, although there are quite a few Yankee homers still pulling for the completely undeserving Mark Teixeira.
Second Base: This was, perhaps, the easiest pick of all. Robinson Cano is clearly the class of the league at his position, and it seems most All-Star voters agree with me, as Cano has been named on almost twice as many ballots as his nearest counterpart. Besides leading AL second basemen in runs, hits, HR, RBI, batting average, OBP and slugging percentage, he has only one error and, therefore, has to be considered a Gold Glove candidate.
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez and Derek Jeter are the only real candidates. I suppose I could go with the guy who I believe has never played in an All-Star game, but in cases like this I usually give the nod to the established star. So, Jeter it is. Not surprisingly, the voters agree.
Third Base: Surprisingly, there's no real standout here. The top three at this position, in terms of OPS—Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, Michael Young—are also the bottom three in fielding percentage. So, maybe Alex Rodriguez should have received my vote, because he's the only other third baseman with good offensive numbers and he's playing better defense than the aforementioned three. But, I went with Longoria—who leads in the voting by almost a million ballots—in part because of his 11 for 13 stolen base numbers.
Catcher: Victor Martinez actually has slightly better numbers than Joe Mauer, but his 19% caught stealing percentage is pretty much a joke, although better than his performance last year. John Buck's having a pretty good year too, but Mauer gets the benefit of the doubt for the same reason that Jeter did. The defending AL MVP, of course, is dominating the fan voting.
Designated Hitter: Comeback Player of the Year candidate Vladmir Guerrero and David Ortiz are the class of AL DHs, but Vlad over Big Papi is a pretty easy pick. The fans agree, as Ortiz is actually third in the voting behind Guerrero and Hideki Matsui.
Outfield: When I pick outfielders for my All-Star ballot, my philosophy is that one of them should be a center fielder. I wouldn't pick a third baseman to start at shortstop, so why would I choose a corner outfielder to play one of the four most important defensive positions? Fortunately, Alex Rios would be deserving even if I wasn't using that criterion. Rounding out my outfield are two more comeback candidates, Magglio Ordonez—who did hit .310 last year, but with only 9 home runs—and Josh Hamilton. This is the only position where the voters are way off. Hamilton's third in the voting, but Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford are the top two. While neither of them are terrible picks, they're nowhere nearly as worthy as Rios and Ordonez.
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