Monday, July 6, 2009

All-Star (?) Rosters: Part 1

Well, for the most part, they are. When all is said and done, the rosters aren't bad. But there are certainly a few egregious mistakes. And why Major League Baseball continues to require one player from each team to make it still mystifies me. Without further ado...

American League

Starter: Joe Mauer
Reserve: Victor Martinez
ESPN pick: Joe Mauer
My pick: Joe Mauer
This is the easiest one by far. Mauer is so far ahead of the rest of the catching competition its ridiculous. If you click on the link to catcher stats above, you'll see ESPN doesn't have Martinez in that category, even though he's played 41 of his 81 games there. Martinez is almost as easy a choice for the backup as Mauer is for the starting job.

First Base

Starter: Mark Teixeira
Reserves: Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau
ESPN pick: Justin Morneau
My pick: Justin Morneau
While the last time I updated my All-Star picks my choice of Morneau was a slight stretch, this time it is completely reasonable. He leads AL first basemen in runs, RBIs, batting average, slugging percent, and OPS, and is second in home runs and on base percentage. Youkilis and Teixeira are both deserving All-Stars, though, so I won't complain. Russell Branyan, unsurprisingly, got little support, despite posting numbers that compare favorably to Teixeira. Carlos Pena and Miguel Cabrera are having nice season too, but this position is just too loaded for them to be considered here.

Second Base
Starter: Dustin Pedroia
Reserve: Aaron Hill
ESPN pick: Aaron Hill
My pick: Ian Kinsler
I was afraid this would happen despite the fact that Kinsler had the lead in voting from day one. Pedroia, who is well behind Kinsler (and Hill) in just about every stat, got the start because he wears a Red Sox jersey. And because of that, Kinsler may not even make the All-Star game because Hill got the back-up spot. Hill has been the #2 second basemen in the AL to this point, but Kinsler should have been chosen for the spot after the fans misguidedly picked Pedroia.

Starter: Derek Jeter
Reserve: Jason Bartlett
ESPN pick: Derek Jeter
My pick: Jason Bartlett
This is the one spot where I would break my own rule; no matter how much better than the next guy Jeter was doing, I would not choose him. I would grudgingly choose a Yankee if he deserved it, but I will never pick Derek Jeter. But in this case, I don't think I even have to resort to that. Despite the time he missed with an injury, Bartlett's cumulative stats are comparable to Jeter's, and his slash stats are much better. In fact, I think you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a good argument for Jeter over Bartlett. I suppose Jeter might merit the backup spot, but only because my argument for Marco Scutaro had a ton of holes.

Third Base
Starter: Evan Longoria
Reserve: Michael Young
ESPN pick: Evan Longoria
My pick: Evan Longoria
The only discussion necessary here is whether or not Michael Young was a good choice as a reserve, because Longoria easily outdistanced the rest of the third-base crop. Given more time, Alex Rodriguez could have given him a run for his money, but as it stands now he's not close. Still, I think I'd have to give him the backup spot over Young due to his 45:31 K:BB ratio and AL 3B-high .929 OPS, but since he's a Yankee I don't really mind. I think it was his .244 average that turned off the players and manager from selecting him, though. Brandon Inge and Scott Rolen are comparable to Young, making it basically a toss-up between the three, but I would pick either of them over Young for their defense.

Starters: Jason Bay, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton
Reserves: Carl Crawford, Curtis Granderson, Torii Hunter, Adam Jones, Ben Zobrist
ESPN picks: Torii Hunter, Jason Bay, Ichiro Suzuki
My picks: Torii Hunter, Jason Bay, Jermaine Dye
Bay was certainly a good choice, and I'd definitely have Ichiro as a reserve, but Hamilton does not belong here at all. I was really hoping Hunter would overtake him...but oh well. I was surprised to see Zobrist as an All-star selection, but upon looking it up he's quite deserving, though he's actually played more at second base. I was also less surprised when I learned Joe Maddon selected him. Jermaine Dye, along with Shin-Soo Choo (and Johnny Damon to a lesser extent), garnered almost no consideration for the All-star game, which confounds me. Granderson is having a solid year, but there were better choices. Jones, who previously was getting altogether too little support, has plummeted from being the AL leader in OPS to being a borderline All-star choice. So, to make it simple, I'd have these 8 outfielders: Hunter, Bay, Dye, Suzuki, Zobrist, Choo, Damon, and Jones. Crawford and Nelson Cruz just miss the cut.

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