My Second Round of MLB All-Star Voting
I typically vote for MLB’s all-stars twice each year—once on June 1 and then again on July 1. By the first of June, players have had a couple of months to impress voters, but by July 1, they’ve had one more month, and voters are able to get a better idea of the type of season a player is having.
Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has quietly put together a fantastic year for the Tigers. His .300/.373/.532 triple-slash line is impressive for just about any position, but for a catcher it’s exceptional. He strikes out quite a bit (27.6%) but that’s about the only black mark on an otherwise flawless offensive campaign. Russell Martin has missed some time due to a lingering back injury and Carlos Santana’s little hot streak is coming just a bit too late.
June 1 pick: Russell Martin, Yankees
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
Back on June 1, three AL first basemen were clumped together, but in the 30 days since then the imported Red Sox slugger has distanced himself from his competitors. Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera haven’t been bad at all, Gonzalez has just been that good. He’s hitting .417/.488/.792 in June and is on pace for over 150 RBI. Gonzalez’s antics have overshadowed performances from guys like Paul Konerko (.331/.400/.610) and Adam Lind (.328/.371/.603).
June 1 pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
After a somewhat disappointing May, Cano has rebounded to MVP-level performance, hitting .329/.397/.529 in June. He’s slowly rounding into form and is very easily the best second baseman in the league. Dustin Pedroia has also rebounded from a rocky April and May, but his power away from Fenway is still non-existent (9 XBH in 131 AB). Zobrist has struggled to maintain his early season performance and Howie Kendrick spent an extended time on the DL
June 1 pick: Ben Zobrist, Rays
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Rodriguez remains the class of the American League’s third basemen. Despite slumping for three weeks in May, A-Rod holds a .296/.375/.510 line with above-average defense at the hot corner. Kevin Youkilis has rebounded from a slow offensive start, but not quite enough to earn him the starting nod over Rodriguez.
June 1 pick: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Cabrera has carried his strong early-season performance into the beginning of summer, and therefore retains my vote as AL shortstop. Jhonny Peralta has been nearly as impressive with the bat, but his defense is steady rather than spectacular. JJ Hardy is also making a push with a strong June in Baltimore, but it’s too little too late.
June 1 pick: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
I don’t really need to change much from the comments I made on Bautista a month ago. Even with the down month of June in which his power completely disappeared (.227/.378/.288) he stills leads all outfielders in average, on-base percentage and slugging. There should be no debate about who is the American League’s best outfielder.
June 1 pick: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
If you’re looking for things to critique about Granderson’s season so far, you won’t find much that amounts to anything. He’s hit for average (.280) and power (.481) and has a 10% walk rate, which is eighth-best among AL outfielders, but third-best among Yankee outfielders. He’s hit lefties (.978 OPS) and righties (.934 OPS) and he’s hit at home (.968 OPS) and on the road (.926 OPS). All that offense and above average defense in centerfield? All-star all the way.
June 1 pick: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Ellsbury completes my outfield from the AL East. He surpasses guys on my list who have struggled (Matt Joyce) or been hurt (Josh Hamilton). Ellsbury has rebounded spectacularly from a 2010 season lost to various injuries by posting a .313/.373/.469 line and setting the table for baseball’s best offense. His defense is adventurous but exciting and he’s just the guy to leadoff for the American League in Arizona.
June 1 pick: Matt Joyce, Rays
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Ortiz is still the leader in a weak field and by a large margin. His offense carried the Red Sox lineup through early season struggles and now only complements his teammates as they put up ten-spot after ten-spot.
June 1 pick: David Ortiz
SP: Justin Verlander, Tigers
Verlander already has a no-hitter to his name this season and if not for pesky Orlando Cabrera, he might have two. Absolutely un-hittable when he’s on, Verlander’s pure stuff can blow hitters away even when he doesn’t have everything working. He’s a little homer prone and has a slight tendency for flyballs, but other than that he’s been nearly a perfect pitcher. A workhorse and ace in every sense of the words.
June 1 pick: Jered Weaver, Angels
C: Brian McCann, Braves
Brian McCann has to be one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball. Year after year he posts some of the best numbers amongst major league catchers and does it all while catching 130+ games. Miguel Montero will make a fine back-up, but McCann is clearly the class of the National League catchers.
June 1 pick: Brian McCann, Braves
1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers
Gaby Sanchez was my nice little story, but since the beginning of June, he’s cooled off somewhat while Prince Fielder has gone on an absolute tear. Surprisingly, there are only two NL first basemen slugging over .502 (Prince and Washington’s Michael Morse). Albert Pujols’ injury removes him from the race, and Joey Votto is still looking for the home run power he had last year.
June 1 pick: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
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. Washington’s Danny Espinosa has been putting up some good counting numbers, but a .230 average and .320 OBP put him in a tier well below Weeks.
June 1 leader: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
3B: Chase Headley, Padres
Headley has used three four-hit games in the past week to really push his case for the NL squad. He’s not hitting for much power (.108 IsoP) but nobody does in Petco Park. He holds a .297/.392/.406 which makes him the most valuable offensive third baseman in the league. He’s adjusted well to hitting in the middle of the lineup and is now a foundation for the Padres’ future.
June 1 pick: Placido Polanco, Phillies
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets
No change in shortstops over the last month, as Reyes continues to outpace his peers with a .338/.372/.550 month of June. Jimmy Rollins has heated up over the past few weeks and Starlin Castro has been consistently good, but both still fall well behind Reyes.
June 1 pick: Jose Reyes, Mets
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
After last season’s dismal showing, I needed more than two months to buy into what Matt Kemp was selling. It’s now summer and Kemp is still punishing every pitcher who pitches to him. He’s hitting for power and average and he’s amongst the league leaders in stolen bases. He’s a complete offensive package, which is good enough for an all-star spot even if his defense is a little lackadaisical at times.
June 1 pick: Matt Holliday
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Braun is in the midst of another MVP-caliber season that should see him start his fourth consecutive all-star game for the senior circuit. His numbers do not quite stack up with Kemp’s but they outpace just about everyone else in the NL.
June 1 pick: Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF: Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have surprised many this year and are in serious contention for their division, with Justin Upton being the biggest reason why. After a less-than-ideal 2010 season, Upton has rebounded to superstar levels of production in 2011 as he leads Arizona to the top of the NL West. Upton fits the mold of the new power-speed combo that teams are looking for now as he, Braun and Kemp will all enter the All-Star weekend with excellent chances at 30-30 seasons.
June 1 leader: Lance Berkman, Cardinals
DH: Lance Berkman, Cardinals
If the National League really wants the pitcher to bat so freaking badly, let them. But don’t force the AL to follow your stupid rules. If your game is better, then beat us at our game, using yours. Rant aside, Berkman has been fantastic for the Cardinals this season amidst slumps and injuries to other star players. He’s been pushed out of the starting outfield, but his consolation prize is here because of the game-destroying DH rule implemented for the ASG.
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 ground-balls. He’s the ultimate video game pitcher pitching in real-life.