My First Round of MLB All-Star Voting
With two months of the MLB season in the books, and about a month and a half left until the 2011 All-Star game, the first round of all-star balloting was released.
Catcher: Russell Martin, Yankees
After being designated for assignment by the Dodgers in the offseason due to injury and performance concerns, the Yankees took a chance on a guy who was once one of the NL’s elite young catchers. It has paid huge dividends thus far as Martin leads all AL catchers in runs, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases. His weighted on-base average is also the highest of all qualified AL catchers and his 1.8 WAR is tops as well.
June 1 leader: Russell Martin
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
There are three AL first basemen that have separated themselves from the rest, and Miguel Cabrera is the best of that bunch. Adrian Gonzalez (.329 average) and Mark Teixeira (16 HR) have had nice seasons, but Cabrera’s .310/.431/.556 triple slash line combined with his .412 wOBA and 2.0 WAR make him the elite standard in the American League.
June 1 leader:Mark Teixeira, Yankees (Cabrera 3rd)
2B: Ben Zobrist, Rays
With Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano having down seasons, the AL second base all-star competition is pretty open. Both Ben Zobrist and Howie Kendrick have been very good, but neither is a full-time second baseman. Zobrist has made 39 of his 52 starts at second base, and has rebounded nicely from a disappointing campaign in 2010.
June 1 leader: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Zobrist 5th)
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Nobody has set themselves apart in a field of good-not-great seasons from the AL’s third basemen. A-Rod got off to a blistering start, hit a prolonged slump and is now hitting again. He’s been well above average defensively and has earned the starting nod for the American League.
June 1 leader: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Cabrera has been the American League’s best offensive shortstop, but it’s worst defensive one by far. Jhonny Peralta and Alexei Ramirez have also been very impressive for Detroit and Chicago, respectively. Cabrera’s starting nod is partly due to his performance but also a reward for Cleveland’s impressive start to the season.
June 1 leader: Derek Jeter, Yankees (Cabrera 2nd)
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Without a doubt, Bautista has been the best hitter in baseball this season. He has continued hitting for power, but also improved his average and ball ratio this season, making him as close to a complete hitter since Barry Bonds. He’s also been above average defensively and on the bases as well, furthering his case for best player. If Bautista had a .000 BABIP, meaning no singles, doubles, or triples, he’s still have a .315 OBP and a .476 SLG. For reference, Jeff Francouer has a .322 OBP this year and a .478 SLG and is having a very good season.
June 1 leader: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Remember when Granderson could not hit lefties? Me either. His nine homer off left-handed pitchers leads all of baseball by a considerable margin and three of his last five homers have come off of Jon Lester, David Price and Brett Anderson, arguably the three best lefties in the American League. He has cut down on his strikeouts and improved his walks in addition to swiping 8 bases and playing excellent defense.
June 1 leader: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF: Matt Joyce, Rays
Joyce has gone mostly unnoticed after taking full advantage of Manny Ramirez’s retirement. He still struggles against lefties and is benefitting from a .416 BABIP, but his performance overall all has been excellent. His 3.1 WAR trails only Bautista among AL outfielders. Along with right-fielder Bautista and center-fielder Granderson, Joyce would give the AL an exceptional offensive AND defensive outfield.
June 1 leader: Josh Hamilton, Rangers (Joyce, not in top 15)
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Undoubtedly, Ortiz has been Boston’s best hitter this season. Are we sure it actually is 2011 and not 2005? His average, on-base percentage and slugging are all at their highest since 2007 and Ortiz has been a consistent threat this season when many of his teammates have slumped. He has twice as many home runs as the next best designated hitter.
June 1 leader: Michael Young, Rangers (Ortiz 2nd)
SP: Dan Haren, Angels
Haren and teammate Jered Weaver have nearly identical numbers this season, so this is the spot most likely to change. Weaver went 6-0 in his first six starts this season, but has since gone 0-4 in his last six starts. I gave the nod to Haren for more consistent excellence this season.
C: Brian McCann, Braves
No NL catcher stands out wuite so much as Russell Martin does in the other league, but McCann has put together another solid season, and with the injury to Buster Posey, he’s my choice. Colorado’s Chris Iannetta has been very good, but a .235 batting average will likely keep voters away.
June 1 leader: Buster Posey, Giants (McCann 2nd)
1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
Joey Votto has forgotten how to hit home runs, and while he’s still been excellent this season, Sanchez has really come into his own after a solid rookie campaign. Only Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder have more HR and RBI than Sanchez, but both fall woefully short of Sanchez’s total offensive numbers. The Braves’ Freddie Freeman has more votes than Sanchez thus far and Sanchez’s lack of support is disappointing.
June 1 leader: Albert Pujols, Cardinals (Sanchez not in top 5)
2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Rickie Weeks is without a doubt the National League starter at second. He has been consistently good in all facets of the game since Day 1 and holds statistical advantages just about across the board. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips has also been impressive.
June 1 leader: Brandon Phillips, Reds (Weeks 2nd)
3B: Placido Polanco, Phillies
The NL’s usual cast of characters at third base – Chipper Jones, Aramis Ramirez and David Wright – have all had less-than-impressive seasons which has opened the door for guys like Polanco, Ryan Roberts and Chase Headley. But Polanco has been the most impressive of the three
June 1 leader: Placido Polanco
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets
At .335/.382/.493, Reyes has been far and away the most impressive shortstop in all of baseball this season, despite criticism from the Mets owner. He has only one home run and 17 RBI, but his 76 hits, 39 runs and 19 stolen bases lead all NL shortstops and make him an ideal leadoff hitter for the NL all-stars.
June 1 leader: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (Reyes 3rd)
OF: Lance Berkman, Cardinals
Many thought the Cardinals were insane to assume that Berkman could play the outfield every day at this stage in his career, but through the first third of the season, Berkman and the Cardinals are all smiles. His defense in right field hasn’t been anything special, but his league-leading .443 wOBA and 184 wRC+ sure have been. His 11 home runs and 36 RBI are coupled with a league-leading 18.6% walk percentage.
June 1 leader: Lance Berkman
OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals
In some ways, Matt Holliday has been even better than Berkman for the Redbirds. Holliday’s poor performance in his short stay in Oakland brought expectations crashing down around rumors that he was a product of Coors Field. But he has been the best NL outfielder since arriving in St. Louis although you’d never know it judging from fan and media reactions.
June 1 leader: Matt Holliday
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Braun has done nothing but hit since arriving in the big leagues and this season is no exception. He is one of two National Leagues with at least 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases this season. His inclusion forces a very awkward and susceptible outfield defense, but gives the NL one heckuva offensive threat.
June 1 leader: Ryan Braun
SP: Roy Halladay, Phillies
What else can you say about the man? He’s consistently phenomenal regardless of who he is facing, where he is pitching or whatever other extenuating circumstances there may be. He’s thrown a perfect game and a no-hitter in the last year and is once again the NL’s elite talent when it comes to starting pitchers. He has the league’s lowest BB rate and pairs that with nearly a strikeout per inning and an overwhelming amount of groundballs. He’s the ultimate video game pitcher pitching in real-life.