Every year. Every year, I join in a chorus of statistical slaves railing against the fan vote, this year witnessed by Derek Jeter (14th in WAR* among AL shortstops, with a paltry 0.2) getting a starting nod. Jeter is at least chasing 3,000 hits. There’s even less explanation for Josh Hamilton (1.6 WAR, 12th among AL outfielders.)
But this year, I’m not stopping there. The whole selection process is pretty silly. Bruce Bochy used his managerial picks to give Ryan Vogelsong an All-Star nod, which raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. But Vogelsong (1.9 WAR, 20th among NL starters) isn’t even the worst offender. Jose Valverde made the squad despite a 0.4 WAR (38th among AL relievers,) as did Brandon League, who is tied with him.
And then there’s Jay Bruce, whose 0.9 WAR ranks him 39th among NL outfielders.
Meanwhile, Bochy snubbed his own third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, who leads all NL third basemen with 2.0 WAR. Sandoval isn’t alone; he’s tied at the top with Chase Headley, who also wasn’t voted in. Neither were Ryan Roberts (1.9) – who wasn’t even on the printed All-Star ballot – or Aramis Ramirez (1.6). That’s right, the NL’s starting third baseman, Placido Polanco, ranks fifth. The reserve third baseman, Chipper Jones, ranks tenth.
The second base situation in the AL is almost as bad. Robinson Cano (2.4, 5th among AL 2B) was voted the starter, and Howie Kendrick (3rd with 3.1) is the backup, leaving Dustin Pedroia (1st with 3.7) as proof that even big-market players aren’t exempt. He’ll have company watching the game; the Rays’ Ben Zobrist is 2nd with 3.6 WAR, and also didn’t receive a nod.
David Robertson is tied with his bullpen mate, Mariano Rivera, to lead all AL relievers with a 1.5 WAR, but he’ll be sitting at home, also.
But it is what it is, and most of the guys who belong there end up there, one way or the other. But would it kill Major League Baseball to rectify this situation somehow? Maybe give the General Managers a vote? Maybe SABR? I don’t know; but I do know that something needs to change. The guys who earn All-Star nods must be allowed to play in the All-Star Game.
I’m all for the idea of the fan vote: Fans should be able to watch their favorite players take the field in July against one another. But if a player out-performs every other player at his position, he should be on that field.
As is my tradition, I’ve taken the liberty of creating my own All-Star team, based on statistics, while maintaining current MLB rules (i.e. at least one player from each team**).
So, without further ado, my own choices for the 68 Major League All-Stars:
C: Brian McCann (ATL)
1B: Joey Votto (CIN)
2B: Rickie Weeks (MIL)
3B: Chase Headley (SDP)
SS: Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF: Matt Kemp (LAD), Andrew McCutcheon (PIT), Ryan Braun (MIL)
SP: Roy Halladay (PHI)
Cole Hamels (PHI), Cliff Lee (PHI), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Jair Jurrjens (ATL), Jonny Venters (ATL), Craig Kimbrel (ATL), Eric O’Flaherty (ATL), Mike Adams (SDP), Carlos Marmol (CHC), Ian Kennedy (ARI), Daniel Hudson (ARI), Matt Cain (SFG)
C Miguel Montero (ARI), 1B Prince Fielder (MIL), 2B Danny Espinosa (WSN), 3B Pablo Sandoval (SFG), SS Troy Tulowitzki (COL), OF Shane Victorino (PHI), OF Michael Bourn (HOU), OF Matt Holliday (STL), OF Carlos Beltran (HOU), 1B Gaby Sanchez (FLA), 2B Brandon Phillips (CIN), OF/1B Lance Berkman (STL), 3B Ryan Roberts (ARI)
C: Alex Avila (DET)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
3B: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
OF: Jose Bautista (TOR), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
SP: Jered Weaver (LAA)
Justin Verlander (DET), CC Sabathia (NYY), Josh Beckett (BOS), James Shields (TBR), David Robertson (NYY), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Jim Johnson (BAL), Aaron Crow (KCR), Sergio Santos (CWS), Felix Hernandez (SEA), C.J. Wilson (TEX), Gio Gonzalez (OAK)
C Matt Wieters (BAL), 1B Miguel Cabrera (DET), 2B Ben Zobrist (TBR), 3B Kevin Youkilis (BOS), SS Jhonny Peralta (DET), OF Alex Gordon (KCR), OF Denard Span (MIN), OF Brett Gardner (NYY), DH Victor Martinez (DET), OF Matthew Joyce (TBR), OF Carlos Quentin (CWS), 2B Howie Kendrick (LAA)
* I calculated WAR by averaging bWAR and fWAR.
** Yankees 6, Red Sox 6, Braves 5, Tigers 5, Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 4, Brewers 3, Rays 3, Reds 2, Dodgers 2, Mets 2, Padres 2, Giants 2, Cardinals 2, Angels 2, Royals 2, Cubs 1, Rockies 1, Marlins 1, Astros 1, Pirates 1, Nationals 1, Blue Jays 1, Rangers 1, Mariners 1, Athletics 1, Twins 1, Indians 1
The Houston Astros are suffering from a string of bad backs. Kazuo Matsui and Jeff Keppinger, the two primary options at second base, are both out with bad backs, though he was able to pinch-hit yesterday.
Also, Jose Valverde has been suffering from some back woes.
I have a bad back, so I know how awful it can be when it tightens up. I can’t even imagine playing baseball like that.
So it came as good news when the reports started coming in that guys were starting to feel better. Matsui said, “I feel fine… I want to start (today).”
Keppinger, who has ridiculous splits, will be available for the Dodgers series, with lefties Clayton Kershaw, Eric Stults, and Randy Wolf set to pitch. “I will be ready for the Dodgers,” he said. “Even if I’m not ready, I’ll be ready.”
This is good, because Cecil Cooper was beginning to sound crazy again.
Rodriguez has played some third base, which gives me an option of
moving Blum around a little bit,” Cooper said. “As funny as it might
sound, Darin Erstad has played a little bit of infield.
“And, heck, I might even have to stick him in some place. He’s lefthanded, but I have to think of someplace.
“Michael Bourn has played second base before and shortstop. Carlos Lee’s a third baseman.
some options. I got some things. If we get to the point we need to, we
can get creative. Jason Michaels told me he played third base one
inning in this place, this ballpark. So we got options. Did I say they
were (good) options? But we got options. ”
Could you imagine this starting lineup trotting out for the Astros?
2B Michael Bourn
CF Darin Erstad
RF Hunter Pence
3B Carlos Lee
1B Geoff Blum
C Ivan Rodriguez
LF Jason Michaels
SS Jason Smith
I would quit. Seriously, I would quit baseball.
You should add me on Twitter and get brilliant in-game insight from my twisted mind. Okay, well that’s not entirely true. But you should add me anyway.
I’ve loved Heath Bell ever since he got to the San Diego Padres. I don’t know why; maybe I like fat guys with facial hair, since I happen to be a fat guy with facial hair. Maybe it’s because he always reminded me of former Astro, and his teammate in San Diego, Scott Linebrink.
Another fat guy with facial hair.
But anyone who says that he lost 25 pounds in the offseason because the Wii Fit told him was obese is okay in my book.
He recently became, I believe, the first actual player to come out and say what many of us have been saying about ESPN for years:
“I saw ESPN’s promo for tonight’s game. They mention the Mets are
opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did
they mention the Padres. . . .
“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and
Yankees and Mets – and nobody else,” said the closer, a former Met.
“That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m
really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy
threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third
inning and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”
ESPN jumped the shark years ago, and in some ways I empathize. Yankees-Sox is sexy. The Cubs are an easy team to write about – they have a backstory that lazy journalists only need to recite, and it creates drama. The Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox are in ESPN’s backyard. And yes, these teams sell. They have huge national followings, and casual sports fans care about them.
The network is not a leader in the world of analysis or real sports news, and shouldn’t be counted on as such. I can’t watch ESPN anymore, at least not for baseball. This isn’t really news, but good for Heath Bell for stepping up and saying it, anyway.
No, this isn’t about what you think it’s about. It’s just a clever title. Over at The Hardball Times, Craig Calcaterra tells a very cool story (albeit it one with a very sad ending.) He recently took his son to Lids to allow him to choose his favorite baseball cap, rather than force his own favorite team onto his son.
Now, I appreciate this, as I’m not a huge fan of parents who basically make their kids fans of their own favorite teams. My dad tried that with Ohio State University, and now I’m about the biggest Michigan fan you’ll meet.
I love the idea of letting your kid pick a team based on their favorite hat (even though the worst possible scenario happened in this case, when his son picked a Chicago Cubs hat), and it got me to wondering: What team would I pick now if I had to do it all over again, knowing nothing about the teams, looking solely at the caps.
I have to say, looking through a large block of caps, I probably would choose the Detroit Tigers. I like the classic look, with the old-English style D. Of course, a big part of how I chose my favorite team was that they had some of my favorite players at the time. When I was ten, Alan Trammell was one of my favorite players. So I could easily have become a fan of a 104-58 team in 1984; and then been a fan of a 43-119 team in 2003.
If I was choosing a team now based on my favorite players, though, I wonder who I would pick. I can’t really say that there’s one team with a chunk of players I like the way I liked Jose Cruz, Kevin Bass, Bill Doran, Terry Puhl, Dickie Thon, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, and Jim DeShaies back in 1987.
I certainly like a lot of the current Astros players, but that’s largely because I’m already an Astros fan. Honestly, I would probably end up choosing – of all teams – the San Francisco Giants. Tim Lincecum, Rich Aurilia, Randy Johnson, Bengie Molina, Pablo Sandoval, Randy Winn, Matt Cain… these are all players I really like. I can’t think of another large group of guys I like that much.
So I could have been a fan of the Giants or Tigers. Fantastic. I sure can pick ’em.