The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is one of my favorite mile markers of the summer. I’m not talking about a horrendous “Celebrity” Softball game, or the even more unbearable Home Run Derby. I mean the actual baseball game, and nothing else. I like seeing all of the best guys on one field together. I’m always intrigued by the reception that different players get during the introductions depending on the host city.
Just like everyone else not named Bud Selig, I think that the fact that the game “counts” is a travesty. I think the rule that each team has to have one representative is way too “Everyone Gets a Ribbon” for my taste, and I’m annoyed that every year the manager is left trying to juggle an absurdly large 34-man roster. Yet despite all of that, it’s the Mid-Summer Classic and I love it! It’s a nostalgic experience that takes me back to my childhood, and one that I relish every July.
Consequentially, I take all-star voting very seriously. I put more time into my ballot that I put into studying for at least 50% of my college tests (ok, fine, way more than 50%). I vote as many times as the site will let me vote. Do my votes move the needle? Not a bit, but at least it makes me feel like I’ve done my part in handling this responsibility responsibly.
I want to see the best players play. No, not the “Lifetime Achievement Award” players, I want to watch the guys who are having the best season right now. I didn’t need to see a 40-year-old Cal Ripken batting .240 trot out to the field one last time with the American League squad. Call me a jerk, I can live with it.
I can’t stand the people who just vote for the players who used to be good ten years ago. Derek Jeter is fifth in the voting for American League shortstops for crying out loud. I look down on the people who vote for all of the players from their favorite team. Listen, I love the Red Sox to an unhealthy level, but you won’t see Will Middlebrooks getting any all-star votes from me this year. Hopefully he’ll earn that in future seasons, but 2013 certainly hasn’t been his year. I wonder how many Yankees fans ballots have Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Jeter getting votes? If it’s more than 10 then we need to scrap the current system and start over (something that we should do anyway, but that’s another topic for another day). At least they would have had to take the time to add Alex Rodriguez as a write-in, and since they hate him as much as we do these days, that probably isn’t happening.
So, here are my National League and American League All-Star ballots. I admittedly know nothing about the National League. My only fantasy league is an AL Only League, and the only time I watch NL teams is when the Red Sox have an interleague contest. It’s not that I don’t respect NL baseball, (they have won the last 3 World Series, after all) it’s just that I don’t really like it as much. It’s a matter of personal preference. So, I will present my NL ballot without comment, because truthfully, I don’t have many comments worth adding.
C — Yadier Molina
1B — Paul Goldschmidtt
2B — Matt Carpenter
3B — David Wright
SS — Troy Tulowitzki
OF — Carlos Gonzalez
OF — Carlos Gomez
OF — Andrew McCutchen
C — Joe Mauer There is a bit of competition between Mauer and Carlos Santana, but I can’t in good conscience vote for a catcher who is a defensive train-wreck like Santana. Mauer is one of those unique cases where the best known guy is also having the best season. That makes him a lock to win this spot.
1B — Chris Davis The voters may actually be paying attention! Davis has been out of his mind so far in 2013, and unquestionably deserves to start. The fact that he has a healthy lead on the better-known Prince Fielder is a good sign for the baseball voting public.
2B — Dustin Pedroia Listen, I respect Robinson Cano, and his .278/.350/.511 line with 16 HR’s are great first half stats. But truthfully, he should be third in the voting behind both Pedroia and Howie Kendrick. Pedroia’s slash line is .317/.401/.432. He has 10 more runs than Cano, seven more stolen bases, and 13 more hits. Only five AL players have an on base percentage over .400 and three of them are locks to start the ASG: Davis, Cabrera, and Mauer. (Adam Lind is the other player.) However, Cano is going to start at second because he hits home runs and because someone has to represent the Yankees at Citi Field and it’s not going to be Jayson Nix or Kevin Youkilis. (RIP Youk, sorry that selling your soul and shaving your goatee turned out so badly for you so quickly. You should have gone to Cleveland.)
3B — Miguel Cabrera In any other season, or in the National League, both Manny Machado and Evan Longoria would stand a good chance at being the starting 3B. But when Miggy is your competition, you just have to tip your cap and hope for a reserve spot on the roster.
SS — Jhonny Peralta Gross. Maybe I’m just biased against Peralta because his name is a perpetual typo (I hold the same grudge against Dwyane Wade and Brett Favre) but I just don’t feel good about this. Someone has to be better, right? After examining the AL shortstop situation, it really has to be him or J.J. Hardy though. Remember the days of Jeter, ARod, and Nomar battling it out for yearly supremacy in this spot? Those days are long gone.
OF — Mike Trout In 2012 Trout’s triple slash line was .326/.399/.564. This year it’s .308/.385/.549. He hasn’t been quite as amazing as he was last year, but he’s been close, and most of all he’s continued to be the best outfielder in the AL. Two reminders: 1) He’s only 21! 2) The Yankees were going to draft him if he fell just a few more spots. (Everyone take a deep breath and be thankful that even though he’s not ours, at least he isn’t their’s.)
OF — Daniel Nava Ok, fine. This might be the one guy that you can call me a homer for, but I’m fully on board with the #WriteinNava movement. He went from the point where just being in the Major Leagues was a great story to suddenly being an excellent everyday player. He leads AL outfielders (with a minimum of 200 AB’s) in OBP at .387 and his OPS of .854 ties him for 4th behind only Trout, Matt Joyce, and Coco Crisp. So while you certainly may be inclined to make Trout, Bautista, and Jones your 3 selections (and I couldn’t fault you for that) picking Nava in this spot doesn’t make me a senseless homer either. Unfortunately, his name doesn’t appear on the ballot which gives him almost no chance of being elected as a starter. So, we’ll be relying on Jim Leyland’s selections, or that awful “final roster spot” gimmick which will ensure that I will once again be spending far too much time casting additional online votes for Nava. The kid deserves to be there though, he’s earned it.
DH — David Ortiz Give me Ortiz’s .307/.386/.600 in 54 games over Edwin Encarnacion‘s .268/.352/.526 in 70 games. Ortiz has a pretty healthy lead in the latest voting results, and should win the spot quite easily.
What does your ballot look like?