I like selecting All-Stars. Actually, baseball is the only sport that I actually deem worthy enough for me to take the time to fill out an all-star ballot.
All-star picks can be a point of great contention and, in my case, are often embarrassing. This is because I make a lot of my picks based on my gut reaction mixed with a sprinkling of statistical success and often, my picks don’t make a lot of sense. But I’ve decided that I’m not worried about ridicule this year and I’m going to go into this selection process cold and allow you to make the journey with me.* I’m filling out my ballot as I write this. I’m not Buster Olney. I don’t care. Let’s do it.
*For the sake of length, I’m only going to share my American League selections with you. You don’t care about my N.L. picks.
The first thing I noticed as clicked the ballot link on mlb.com was the fact that when you want to look at player’s stats via the ballot, there are five categories available to you.
- Batting Average
- Runs Scored
- Home Runs
- Runs Batted In
- Stolen Bases
Already I can see that I’m going to be annoyed, because on-base percentage isn’t there. I also can’t see how many at-bats a player has. Stupid.
1. A.L. First Baseman – Paul Konerko
There’s only 2 guys hitting over .300 on the list of first-basemen. They’re both in the A.L. Central. Paul Konerko and Prince Fielder. Average isn’t a deciding factor, but nobody else is jumping off the page at me. Pujols struggled early this year and only recently seems to be playing better. Paul Konerko is hitting .363 with a .446 O.B.P. in 53 games this season. I think he’s my guy.* Despite the fact that he plays for a division rival, I respect this guy a ton.
*I’ll be up-front and tell you that I don’t understand defensive statistics enough for them to really be a factor in my selections. I know when a player is well-known as a poor defender, but too often people use defensive statistics with a disclaimer about how unreliable they can be. So that plays into my picks. Maybe you know more about defensive statistics than I do. If so, congrats.
2. A.L. Second Baseman – Robinson Cano
It seems like a cop-out picking a hated Yankee, especially such a familiar name, but Cano is a premium bat at a position that isn’t known for power. I don’t know much about his defensive capabilities, but I don’t believe he’s ever been mocked as awful. That’s good enough for me.
3. A.L. Shortstop – Elvis Andrus
I can’t vote for two Yankees in a row. A lot of times as players age, they get voted into all-star games based on their own recognizance.* I thought this would be the case this season as I went to check the stats. Turns out, Derek Jeter is having a great first half. I can’t fault him for that. Actually, I really like Jeet. But I’m going with youth anyways.
*Remember all those times Yao Ming got voted into the NBA All-Star game? I’m sure he deserved it many times but I can’t believe having an entire country vote for you ever hurt.
4. A.L. Third Baseman – Mike Moustakas
This pick should probably be Miguel Cabrera. It probably should.
5. A.L. Catcher – Joe Mauer
Joe is another player I like. He’s rebounding from an injury-plagued season and he is leading the position in several offensive categories. The next-closest catcher is probably A.J. Pierzynski and, on principle, I refuse to vote for Pierzynski for any award that doesn’t have the word “Tool” in it.
6. A.L. Designated Hitter – Billy Butler
Whoops. Hand slipped.
Josh Hamilton is a no-brainer. The other guys are outfielders I’ve happened to see a few times already this year. They both looked good to me and their statistics hold up, so I’m giving them the go-ahead
There’s my A.L. All-Star team. Is it what the experts would pick? Nope. Not at all, but I’m happy with it. You may disagree with my picks and if so, tell me who you’d replace. I guarantee you’ll probably have a case and I always like hearing people tell me why I’m wrong.