A few days ago, Emack attempted to predict the full NL and AL All-Star rosters in his blog, basing the starting lineups on popular fan vote. I liked the idea, but I'll do something a little different. I'll share with you my All-Star ballot, listing the players at each position I think most deserve to take the field at Yankee Stadium. Obviously, given my field of study, I tend to disregard star power and defensive contributions and focus solely on numbers -- specifically, batting average, home runs, RBI, runs scored and stolen bases. That's the way it should be, and hopefully this entry will inspire some of the Fantasy players out there to make the right decisions and bring this ballot to life.
Dare to dream, right?
C Joe Mauer (MIN)
No one else really comes close -- not even Victor Martinez, who actually has worse power numbers. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to make Mike Napoli or A.J. Pierzynski a starting All-Star catcher.
1B Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
Close call between Youk and Justin Morneau, who have nearly identical batting averages, RBI and home-run totals and even strikeout-to-walk ratios, but Youklis gets the nod because his 10 extra doubles give him a slugging percentage nearly 100 points higher than Morneau. In fact, Youkilis has gone a bit unnoticed among Fantasy breakouts this season. He almost made my All-Breakout team posted a few days ago, just missing to Conor Jackson.
2B Ian Kinsler (TEX)
On this one, I'll take issue with the fans, who insist on voting Dustin Pedroia into the All-Star game even though the Rangers' leadoff hitter owns him in just about every measurable statistic -- and in some of them, by far. Kinsler's 14 stolen bases should seal the deal, and his power has picked up lately too. And anyone who wrote him off as a .260 hitter this spring based that prediction on an awfully small sample size.
SS Michael Young (TEX)
Let's get one thing straight: I don't have much faith in Young. I don't like his power trends, I don't like his walk rate, and I don't consider him among the elite class in Fantasy. So I give him this distinction mostly due to a lack of alternatives. Derek Jeter trails him in every offensive category except batting average and, by my estimation, is a rather distant second.
3B Miguel Cabrera (DET)
Like at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop -- gee, just about every position around the diamond -- the NL owns the AL at third base. Fortunately, the ballot still lists Cabrera at this position, so I don't have to resort to someone like Adrian Beltre, not that Cabrera has done much better. If someone wanted to vote for Alex Rodriguez based on his potential to top the rest of these guys statistically by mid-July, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
OF Josh Hamilton (TEX), Carlos Quentin (CHW) and Milton Bradley (TEX)
Hamilton and Quentin both made my All-Breakout team, and I don't think anyone would take exception to them -- especially Hamilton, who keeps getting better despite my skepticism earlier in the season and might work his way into borderline first-round status looking ahead to next year. Bradley, on the other hand, might not make many people's lists. I thought about Ichiro Suzuki and Jacoby Ellsbury instead, but if you read my work regularly, you know I consider OPS the most telling offensive statistic (if I had my way, I'd rework traditional Rotisserie to use on-base percentage instead of batting average and slugging percentage instead of home runs). So how could I not vote for the guy who leads the league in my self-proclaimed most telling offensive statistic? His 27 RBI and 27 runs scored don't embarrass him, and his .322 batting average and eight home runs rank far ahead of Suzuki's and Ellsbury's, even if his zero stolen bases don't.
DH David Ortiz (BOS)
I'll give it to Papi. Even after his slow start, no one on the ballot even touches him as far as home runs and RBI go.
C Geovany Soto (CHC)
Soto gets the nod here over Brian McCann based on their percentages, but their stats have trended in opposite directions over the last two weeks. I could see McCann overtaking Soto statistically by the time the break arrives, and I wouldn't have a problem with someone voting for McCann instead in anticipation of the trend.
1B Lance Berkman (HOU)
Nothing wrong with what Albert Pujols has done, but Berkman has bettered him in every offensive category except for on-base percentage. And if his advantages in home runs, batting average and RBI aren't enough, he has dominated in runs scored (50 to 29) and stolen bases (nine to two). Easy call.
2B Chase Utley (PHI)
Dan Uggla has severely closed the gap on Utley in May, and their stats look nearly identical right now. I give the nod to Utley because he still strikes out at a lower rate, making him less vulnerable to a catastrophic slump.
SS Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
Miguel Tejada had better numbers than I thought, and Rafael Furcal has a chance to make a push when he returns, but I have to give the starting honors to Hanley. He leads all shortstops with nine home runs and is one behind Jose B. Reyes with 13 stolen bases -- and all while batting over .300.
3B Chipper Jones (ATL)
Chipper has gotten a raw deal as far as All-Star games go. By most anyone's account, he'll end up in the Hall of Fame someday, but he's played in only five mid-summer classics -- and none since 2001. He didn't even go in 1999, the year he won the NL MVP. If a batting average over .400 and more home runs than any third baseman in baseball (by three over Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall) don't give him the nod over David Wright, I won't hide my disappointment (or maybe outrage is a better term).
OF Nate McLouth (PIT), Ryan J. Braun (MIL) and Ryan Ludwick (STL)
McLouth is a no-brainer, and I feel like I've discussed him enough in previous entries. Braun's eight home runs over the last two weeks have vaulted him right back to the top of this list. Ludwick's name might stand out, but it really shouldn't. I joked about him maybe making the All-Star team back when nobody seemed to want him off the waiver wire, but now that the time has come for me to vote, he really deserves it. He has a higher batting average, more RBI and twice as many home runs as my next choice, Matt Holliday, and his .733 slugging percentage is second in baseball to Lance Berkman's .770. Obviously, I have my doubts about Ludwick sustaining even close to this pace, but the All-Star game is more about what a player has done than what he will do. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
Because of this exercise, I've learned two things: The NL is a lot more top-heavy than the AL, and the Rangers have a vastly underrated offense. Look, I gave them four starting All-Stars.
Oh, and I also noticed Jerry Owens made the ballot instead of Carlos Quentin. Whatever. They give you a write-in for a reason.
That's all for now.