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Should-Be 2011 American League All-Star Roster

June 30, 2011

Baseball fans are idiots. At least it seems a majority of them are. How else can you explain Russell Martin (.230/.333/.407) having more all-star votes than Alex Avila (.303/.373/.541), or Derek Jeter having more votes than, well, me? I can go on and on with more examples, but it’s really a lost cause, because Yankee fans would rather have Jeter start the All-Star game over the much better Asdrubal Cabrera or Jhonny Peralta, which actually ends up hurting the AL’s and possibly the Yankees’ chances of having home-field advantage in the World Series.

It also doesn’t help that announcers encourage their listeners to “Vote for your favorite Cardinals” and not “Vote for your favorite Cardinals…who are having good season,” thus encouraging fans to vote for Skip Schumaker and Jake Westbrook not because of their stats but because those players could possibly be fan-favorites.

But I digress. If I had the power to choose the NL and AL all-star rosters, here’s what they’d look like – Thirty-four players, at least one backup at each position, one player from each ML team. I’ll specify my one player who will be able to re-enter the game in the reserves section.

American League (starters first)

Catcher

Fans’ vote: Martin

My vote: Avila

Avila leads all AL catchers in the slash stats, homers and RBIs.

First base

Fans: Adrian Gonzalez

Me: Gonzalez

The AL has three first basemen who are just absolutely raking, and that doesn’t include Adam Lind and Mark Teixeira. Miguel Cabrera has a .455 OBP and a better OPS than Gonzalez, and Paul Konerko’s 21 homers are five more than Gonzalez’s 16. But Gonzalez is at or near the top of the ML leaderboard in hits, runs, doubles, RBIs, average, etc. He’s the pick.

Second base

Fans: Robinson Cano

Me: Cano

If it wasn’t for the new player re-entry rule, Cano wouldn’t be my pick at second base, and I’ll explain later. But the AL needs Cano’s bat from what is usually the relatively weak second base position.

Third base

Fans: Alex Rodriguez

Me: A-Rod

Ugh. This just ticks me off, because I can’t stand A-Rod – the most notorious steroid user until Charlie Sheen revealed he juiced up for the filming of Major League. But the AL third base pool is as shallow as Hal and there are really only two other 3B who deserve all-star consideration, Youkilis and Beltre, especially with Longoria’s slow start/injury.

Shortstop

Fans: Jeter

Me: Asdrubal Cabrera

4-3ter currently has half a million more votes than A-Cab does now, which is a travesty. But I shouldn’t complain because Jeter starting increases the chances of the NL winning. Just hit the ball toward Jeter and most of the balls will get past him because his range as a shortstop has diminished just like his ability to hit the ball. Cabrera has been mashing the ball all season long, which makes me think that he’s been partying with Sheen. But he’s leading AL shortstops in hits, doubles, homers, RBIs – a bunch of categories.

Designated Hitter

Fans: David Ortiz

Me: Michael Young

So far we’ve got enough power on this team, and that will only increase with the outfield and bench selections. So give me Young, who’s got a .361 average with runners on this season. Also, Young can play pretty much anywhere on the field, unlike Ortiz who makes Ryan Theriot look like a gold glove winner.

Outfield

Fans: Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton

Me: Bautista, Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury

Bautista leads the majors in home runs and will be my No. 3 hitter. Granderson’s having a great year and is one of the few Yankees/Red Sox who actually deserve to be voted in. Ellsbury provides speed for a very slow AL team.

Reserves

  • Catcher – Carlos Santana – Santana has at least hit after April, unlike Martin, and he can also draw a walk and is a switch-hitter. … First base – Miguel Cabrera, Paul Konerko – Both are having far better complete seasons than Teixeira, and we need to save a spot later for some team that has to have a lone representative. … Second base – Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler – Both these guys can get on base and have extreme extra-base potential. … Third base – Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youkilis – We’ll play Beltre in the late innings for his defense, and Youkilis will get a couple at-bats for his extra-base and on-base skills. … Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta – He’ll probably end up being left off the roster or an injury replacement, but Peralta is having a career year: 13 homers, 47 RBIs, .313. … Outfield – Adam Jones, Carlos Quentin, Alex Gordon, Michael Cuddyer – Eight outfielders is enough, and the AL gets bit by the “every team must be represented rule” here. But everyone of these guys is having either a breakout year or a very productive year, at the least. It could be worse. … Designated Hitter – David Ortiz – I guess there has to be a backup here, even though anyone can fill this position. Re-entry player – Ben Zobrist – Zobrist isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he does have 53 runs and he leads the majors with 27 doubles. He gets on base (.349) and plays stellar defense at second and in the outfield. He can also play first if need be. That’s why he’s my utility guy, so to speak. BTW, Jonah Keri wrote a good piece on Zobrist’s importance to the Rays over at fangraphs.

Pitchers

Starters: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Michael Pineda, Gio Gonzalez, Justin Verlander, James Shields, Ricky Romero, Josh Beckett – There are very few dominant closers this year, while the amount of dominant starters is seemingly at an all-time high. These eight starters rank 1-8 in AL ERA, in-coincidentally. I think it’s clear that these are the eight best starters in the American League this year. However, it’s a shame a guy like Felix Hernandez didn’t make the cut, but his numbers are actually down from last year’s Cy Young campaign – in which he somehow didn’t make the all-star team either. Also, since CC Sabathia has 10 wins he’ll probably make the team, even though his 3:1 K:BB isn’t that pretty, and his 3.25 ERA ranks 21st in the AL and his 1.22 WHIP ranks 23rd. I wouldn’t be surprised if Haren was left off the team in favor of some bum who has a few saves or CC, despite Haren’s ridiculous 4:1 K:BB and 1.02 WHIP.

Relievers: Al Alburquerque, David Pauley, Mariano Rivera – I know most of you read those players’ names with question marks at the end because you’ve never heard of the first two, but what’s the point of putting guys on the team just because they have 20 saves but bad stats that actually represent dominance? Detroit’s Alburquerque has an AL-best .147 opponents’ average and a ridiculous 47 K’s in 29 innings. … Seattle’s Pauley would be my lefty specialist; he’s held lefties to a .184 on base percentage in 73 at-bats, only giving up 11 hits, all singles. And Mo is Mo. There’s no one else I’d rather have on the mound in the ninth inning.

Snubs: The only one that really sticks out is Matt Joyce, who should probably be the second reserve outfielder but is left off the roster because the Royals, Twins and Orioles had to have someone on the team. Adam Lind and Mark Teixeira could easily end up on the team, especially as injury replacements, and they do deserve to be on the team, but others are just performing better than Lind and Tex are.

Batting Order

  1. Ellsbury
  2. Granderson
  3. Bautista
  4. Gonzalez
  5. Rodriguez
  6. Cano
  7. Avila
  8. Young
  9. Cabrera

 

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