Thursday, July 5, 2012

AL All Star Roster

The All Star game rosters were announced this week!  I always get excited around this time of year.  We invariably see a number of players who go to the Mid-Summer Classic who have no business there, as well as some players who we really wanted to see that didn’t make it.  Now we can all agree that there is more than one way to skin a cat (my last count yielded 9 ways to de-fleece a feline), and when it comes to picking your All Star ballot, you certainly don’t have to do it my way.  However, I’ve never been a fan of picking a player because he’s had a good career if he’s had a bad year.  The very fact that many popular players who have truly bad years and don’t make it on the team at least shows that the vast majority of the country agrees with the concept of rewarding those who do well on a yearly basis.  As it currently stands however, many people put out a fairly low threshold that their favorite players or players from their favorite teams have to meet in order for them to receive their vote over any other player, no matter how deserving.  I personally try to put together a ballot each year without any players from my favorite team, and then compare the numbers out of my favorite players that I deem worthy.  This helps he keep my ballot fairly merit-based.  But I know that most people don’t pick their teams like I do, and that’s never going to change.  Anyway, this post is about who did make the team and some thoughts.  I will follow it with a post of All Star snubs. 

American League


C:                        Mike Napoli TEX- We saw this one coming.  The Rangers had a fantastic showing of support from the fans followed by their own manager backing them up.  Every manager tends to pick his own guys a little more than he should, and Washington didn’t do a bad job.  It just shows how dominant the Rangers have been lately when we look at their club and see 7 players on the All Star Team, with an 8th in the final vote contest (Yu Darvish).  I like the Rangers, and think they deserve a good number of players.  But I think this selection is the one that doesn’t belong.  I like Napoli.  He’s got great power and great power numbers, especially when you consider that he’s played in fewer games than most other catchers.  But that’s pretty much all he’s got.  His RBI numbers aren’t that strong compared to most other catchers and he’s hitting 238.  The power is nice, but his 12 HR trail A.J. Pierzynski who has 14, as well as a 284 AVG and almost 50 points more to his AVG.  And frankly, I think Mauer and Wieters could even be more deserving of a spot.  I like Napoli, but I don’t think I’d put him on the team, much less having him start.

1B:                        Prince Fielder DET- I’d have had him as the second first baseman on my list.  He’s playing pretty well with a 296 AVG and 12 HR.  He leads all AL first basemen (and I mean true first basemen no DHs with first base eligibility) with 53 RBI.  But Paul Konerko has as many hits in fewer games.  Konerko also has the top batting average among all AL first basemen (335) and more HR than Fielder (14).  He made the team as a reserve, but his stats clearly show that he should start over Prince.

2B:                        Robinson Cano NYY- This was the right choice.  Cano leads all AL second basemen in AVG (310) and HR (20) and is second in R and RBI.  The only area he lags behind in is stolen bases, but his other numbers and strong defense easily make up for it. 

SS:                        Derek Jeter NYY- This is the reason the fan vote shouldn’t count.  We aren’t allowed to elect the president because we are considered fairly irresponsible.  So how can we be expected to do something important like elect an All Star team?  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Jeter.  Everyone does.  It’s hard not to.  And he had a strong start to this season.  But it’s clear that both Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera have had superior offensive seasons.  Andrus has the best WAR, second best AVG at 307 (Alcides Escobar’s 310 AVG is the best among shortstops), most stolen bases and most R.  Cabrera has the third best AVG (300) and second most HR (11).  Both have more RBI and Cabrera has the same R numbers as Jeter.  And both are superior fielders.  Derek Jeter is a great guy who will always get the fan vote.  But he has not been the best shortstop this season.  If you trust WAR numbers (and I sort of do) he’s been the 9th best…in his league.  Fangraphs puts him at the 4th best in his division.  He’s still had a good year, but others (at least two) have had better years.  Ron Washington is carrying all three shortstops, perhaps because he thinks the other two were more deserving.  But the fans pick the starters, and they got this one wrong.

3B:                        Adrian Beltre TEX- I like this pick.  I’d have gone with Miguel Cabrera, but it’s really close.  Beltre has the best AL hot corner AVG (323) and is second in HR and RBI.  Cabrera is second in AVG and first in HR and RBI.  Beltre is a much better defender.  This was a good choice.  Both should have been, and are on the team.

OF:                        Josh Hamilton TEX- The best player in baseball this season by a wide margin.  Strong AVG (313), second in HR (25) and first in RBI (73).  Set a record for All Star votes this season.  This is the right choice.  He’ll be in left field.

OF:                        Curtis Granderson NYY- Nope.  He’s had good power and scores a lot of R.  But his AVG is down and other guys have more HR.  He’s riding New York recognition and a great season in 2011 to this starting nod.  I might put him on the team, but he’s at best the 4th best outfielder in the AL.  Certainly behind Hamilton.  I put him behind Mike Trout and Adam Jones.  And possibly behind the man in right field….

OF:                        Jose Bautista TOR- Another guy I like, but don’t think deserves to start.  Both Trout and Adam Jones have had better years.  Bautista was abysmal early on, but has turned it around and is leading the league in HR.  I think he should be on the team, but as a reserve with Granderson.  He’s a top 5 outfielder, but not a top 3 and shouldn’t be starting.

DH:                        David Ortiz BOS- Beantown’s sole representative is a good choice.  I picked Adam Dunn, but will tell you that after his power he trails Big Papi in every offensive category.  You can make a strong argument for Edwin Encarnacion who has better HR and RBI numbers (barely) and a strong 291 AVG.  But Ortiz has the best DH AVG (only considering true DHs) and is close in HR and RBI to the leader.  He also leads all DHs in R.  I like this pick.


SS:                        Elvis Andrus TEX- Belongs on the team.  I think he should start, but at least he’s playing.

DH:                        Billy Butler KAN- Fulfills the “every team must be represented rule” for the Royals.  Some people like this rule, others don’t.  I think it’s necessary to keep the smaller markets truly represented.  But even if you don’t like it, the Royals needed someone in the game as they are the host city.  Butler is having a traditional Butler year.  Good HR numbersv(16), lots of doubles and high AVG (297).  There is another DH more deserving than him (Encarnacion), but another on the team who is arguably less deserving (Dunn) though all have played well.

SS:                        Asdrubal Cabrera CLE- More deserving than the starter, less deserving than Andrus.  With Jeter getting the fan vote, Washington may have felt obligated to put Cabrera on the team with his superior numbers.  But he certainly deserves to be there.

3B:                        Miguel Cabrera DET- Almost got the nod to start.  Leads all AL third basemen in HR and RBI.  Good AVG.  Absolutely deserves to be on the team.

C:                        Joe Mauer MIN- Since there has to be a Twin, he’s the best choice.  He’s a good choice anyway with the highest WAR and AVG among all AL catchers.  I’d give him the start over Napoli.  But there is a catcher who deserves to be there more than any other backstop (Pierzynski), so his absence makes all the other catchers seem undeserving, even when they are not (as in this case).

C:                        Matt Wieters BAL- Playing okay, but not at an All Star level.  He’s third in HR (11), second in RBI (38), but behind in R and AVG (247).  Behind Mauer and Pierzynski on my list.  I may even give Napoli the start over Wieters.  Not sure why he’s an All Star.

2B:                        Ian Kinsler- The player’s pick.  I’m a big fan of Kinsler.  Cano is the best second basemen in this league by a wide margin.  But Kinsler is a leadoff hitter with pop, different than a guy who drives in Runs like Cano.  He’s had a good season (276, 9, 40, 61, 15) and leads all second basemen in R.  But there’s a guy in Cleveland who I think is having a better season.  Kipnis has a slightly lower AVG (273) but more HR (11), RBI (47) and SB (20).  He’s also got slightly better defensive metrics.  I’m okay with Kinsler being on the team, but Kipnis deserves to be there too.  And if only one of them can be there, I’d go with Kipnis, despite my respect for Kinsler.

1B:                        Paul Konerko CHW- Good choice.  Certainly deserves to be on the team.  My only issue is that he’s not starting.

OF:                        Adam Jones BAL- See above.  Has the 4th best WAR among AL outfielders.  Does a little of everything for the Orioles with a 298 AVG and 19 HR.  Should be the starting right fielder with Trout in center and Hamilton in center.

OF:                        Mike Trout LAA- Having one of the best seasons in the majors this year, and spent the first month in the minors.  I’ve heard some people say he will be the best player in the majors by the end of the season.  He’s got the best WAR in the AL and leads the league in SB.  A 339 AVG and 51 R makes him a starter in my book.  Glad he’s on the team.  But he should be starting.

OF:                        Mark Trumbo LAA- Trout’s young teammate who played better in the spring and has been with the big club from the beginning.  A first baseman who moved to third for Pujols then moved to the outfield.  Having a great season hitting 308 with 20 HR and over 50 RBI.  Overlooked a bit because of how awesome Trout is.  Trumbo is a beast and is having a great season.  This was a good choice.

DH:                        Adam Dunn CHW- I love this choice.  But I can’t blame you if you don’t.  Dunn’s 24 HR are third in the league.  He’s got 58 RBI and 44 R.  His 210 AVG isn’t great, but it works for him.  He gets on base by walking a lot.  A true outcomes king, Dunn is on track to be the Comeback Player of the Year.  The only thing that makes this a bad pick, is the absence of Edwin Encarnacion on the team who has almost matched Dunn’s power and surpassed him in all other categories.  I like Dunn and think he should be on the team, but Encarnacion should be there more.


SP:                        Felix Hernandez SEA- Another strong season for King Felix.  His K numbers are high, his ERA is low, and he isn’t winning as many games as he should playing for a dreadful Mariners team.  He’s not as dominant as in the past, but Seattle has to have one representative, and it’s certainly this guy.

SP:                        Matt Harrison TEX- Another Ranger who’s having a good year.  Harrison is tied for the league lead in Wins with 11.  He’s very effective on the mound with a low 3.16 ERA.  He doesn’t mow hitters down like some others, but is playing effectively.  The Wins make him look better than he really is.  That, along with his manager being the AL manager, got him into the game.  I think he’s a good choice, but there were other candidates that were as good.

SP:                        Daivd Price TB- Tied with Matt Harrison for the league Wins lead.  However his other numbers are much stronger with over 8 Ks/9 IP and a lower ERA of 2.92.  I picked him as one of the three best starters in the AL this season, and am sticking with it. 

SP:                        C.C. Sabathia NYY- C.C. is having another solid season for him.  He wins a lot of games and pitches a lot of innings.  His 3.45 ERA is solid, though it looks pedestrian compared to some of his All Star brethren.  But he’s near 9 Ks per 9 IP, and the 9 Wins are impressive.  He’s hurt so won’t be playing, but I’m okay with his selection.

SP:                        Chris Sale CHW- This is a great pick.  Sale has the second highest WAR of all AL pitchers.  At 10-2 he’s second in Wins and second in ERA.  He doesn’t mow hitters down, but has close to 7 Ks per 9, and keeps hitters off base.  He came out of nowhere to be a stud this season, and is keeping hitters off balance with his good stuff.

SP:                        Justin Verlander DET- Last year’s MVP continues to play well this season, despite his team’s struggle.  He’s 8-5, but is pitching much better than that.  He’s got a 2.69 ERA and around 9Ks per 9 IP.  He’s mowing hitters down like last season.  He should have more wins, but baseball isn’t fair.  He should certainly be in the All Star game.

SP:                        Jered Weaver LAA-  Possibly the best pitcher in the AL this season.  Weaver sits at 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA, which is the best in the league.  He doesn’t sit near the top of the K leader board, but is close to 7 per game and has nasty stuff.  He’s been one of the best pitchers in the league for a while, and continues to dominate this season.  I like Weaver a lot, and have him down as one of the guys who should have a shot to be the starter.

SP:                        C.J. Wilson LAA-  And last we have Weaver’s teammate, C.J. Wilson.  Wilson, signed from rival Texas in the offseason, is showing that last season’s success wasn’t a flash in the pan.  He’s 9-4 with a 2.33 ERA.  With a little over 7 Ks per 9, he has been the second part of a great trio of starter in LA (pitching between Weaver and Haren) and he’s helped turn the Angels around.  Wilson is a good choice for this team.

RP:                        Ryan Cook OAK- Ryan Cook is a very good middle reliever and spot closer.  The A’s had to have a representative.  And Cook was a good choice.  But a good middle reliever’s numbers still pale in comparison to what a closer does.  I’m not against middle relievers in the game, but when other solid relievers are overlooked it can look bad.  But with the weakness of the AL relief field, Cook is a good choice and looks good as a pick in this game.

RP:                        Jim Johnson BAL- Johnson came from obscurity last season to a spot in the Mid Summer classic this season.  And I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  Johnson is tied for the league lead with 24 Saves and sports a 1.26 ERA.  He’s a driving force behind the Orioles’ surprising success and has locked down the back of their bullpen.  He is possibly the best closer in the AL this season.

RP:                        Joe Nathan TEX- Nathan has bounced back from injury and taken over the role of closer for the Rangers.  He’s got 18 Saves and a 1.87 ERA.  He’s got a great comeback story and is playing well.  He’s had some early struggles and it’s affected his overall Save numbers.  But he’s having a good season and is a good choice for the All Star team.

RP:                        Chris Perez CLE- Perez is having a strong season of his own.  He made some headlines for calling out Cleveland fans, but after his strong performances on the mound the Indians fan base appreciated him for it.  He’s got a solid 2.67 ERA and well over 9 Ks per 9 IP.  He’s got great stuff and is a very effective closer.  He’s a good choice for this team.

RP:                        Fernando Rodney TB- And last we have the Rays’ closer.  He got the job with the injury to Kyle Farnsworth, but he’s flourished in the role.  He’s tied for the league lead with 24 Saves and sports a fantastic 0.96 ERA.  Anytime your ERA is under 1, you are doing just fine.  He has overpowering stuff and mows hitters down.  He’s one of the best closers in baseball and certainly deserves to be on this team.  If it were up to me, I’d give Rodney or Johnson a chance to get the Save if the AL was in line for the win.

So that’s a rundown of the AL roster.  Yu Darvish gets my final vote, as he’s tied for the league lead in Wins, has a good ERA and is near the top in Ks per 9.  I think a lot of the players deserve to be on this list, but will post my All Star snubs soon.  Up next I’ll take a look at the NL All Star roster.

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