Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Democracy On The March!

All-Star balloting closes out tomorrow. It's a sad sign of my enormous disinterest in a game that I used to look forward to as a highlight of the summer that I just got around to casting my votes tonight. "This time it counts!" just isn't working for me, Baron. The elimination of interleague play and the return of separate identities for the two leagues would help, but that's not about to happen, is it?

This in no way should be taken as a knock on the players, who once again make up as talented a group as has ever played the game. Here are my choices, paired with the current leader in the balloting.

American League
1B David Ortiz/David Ortiz. As much as I like Justin Morneau, I can't ignore an 86-point edge in on-base percentage, especially when Ortiz' slugging average is also better. I know that Ortiz isn't really a first baseman any more, but that works for him here too, as I look forward to the entertainment value of seeing him play in the field.

2B Brian Roberts/Placido Polanco. I've always liked Polanco; he has only one offensive skill, hitting singles, but he's done it consistently for many years now. But Roberts is only one point behind him in batting average (.324/.323) and way ahead in both OBP and SLG, besides being 24 for 28 as a base stealer. And yet Roberts isn't even in the top five in the voting. Robinson Cano has a .307 OBP, and is second in the voting. You go, Yankees fan!

3B Alex Rodriguez/Alex Rodriguez. The choker is slugging .700 so far this year. None of it in the clutch, I'm sure. Clearly the Yankees' dismal record is all his fault. Why can't he be more like that nice Derek Jeter? By the way, anyone who votes for ANYONE other than the guy slugging .700 should be disenfranchised, permanently.

SS Carlos Guillen/Derek Jeter. Jeter is way ahead in the voting, and his selection is certainly very defensible. Once again meaning no disrespect to Jeter, I have to go with Guillen's .577 slugging average. Guillen has been a great player for several years now (ever since the Mariners let him go so that they could sign Rich Aurilia), a fact which has almost completely eluded the media and most fans.

C Joe Mauer/Ivan Rodriguez. This is a tough call. It's so tough that the voters have completely blown it. Mauer, despite losing time to injury, is having another fine season, hitting .314 with a .400 OBP. Jorge Posada, establishing himself as a serious Hall of Fame candidate, is having one of his best seasons at age 35, slugging .540 with a .404 OBP. Victor Martinez is right there with them both, batting .313 with a .532 slugging average. So who do the fans want? The guy with the .298 OBP. Ivan Rodriguez has been a great player, but at this point he's roughly the eighth best catcher in the AL.

OF Carl Crawford/Vladimir Guerrero
Magglio Ordonez/Magglio Ordonez
Ichiro Suzuki/Ichiro Suzuki
I loves me some Vlad Guerrero, and I'd pick him, too, except that I have this silly rule of always voting one LF, one CF, and one RF.

National League
1B Albert Pujols/Prince Fielder. Prince Fielder is one of the rising stars in the game. Prince Fielder is fun to watch. Prince Fielder certainly belongs on the All-Star team. Albert Pujols is Albert Pujols.

2B Chase Utley/Chase Utley. The majority of fans have it right. My only question to the rest: why in the hell is Craig Biggio in third place? Or even in the top ten?

3B Miguel Cabrera/David Wright. Wright has more name recognition (lots more) and is a hell of a player; there is nothing really wrong with having him as number one. I do think that Cabrera is better, but it's close.

SS Jose Reyes/Jose Reyes. The mass of voters and I are in agreement, but, damn, what a great group here. Hanley Ramirez and Edgar Rentaria could both start this game, and Jimmy Rollins trails them only because his OBP isn't strong. J.J. Hardy has been sensational as well.

C Brian McCann/Russell Martin. Weakest position in either league. Martin is the better player so far this year; I go with McCann on his track record (which, granted, isn't a whole lot longer than Martin's). I'm willing to admit being wrong here.

OF Barry Bonds/Alfonso Soriano
Carlos Beltran/Carlos Beltran
Ken Griffey Jr./Ken Griffey Jr.
Soriano is playing well for the Cubs, no doubt about it. But when in doubt, I like to go with the guy with the 1.081 on-base plus slugging. Especially when he's about to pass one of the game's greatest records, and by earning it with his play, not because he's a team icon like some people I could name. I suppose I could make Soriano my CF, except that he's not a centerfielder. I suppose I could make Aaron Rowand my CF, except that he's a good player but not Carlos Beltran. It's so wonderful to be able to vote for Griffey because of his play and not as a sentimental choice.

I have to say that I am impressed with the fan voting. There is only one horribly misguided selection (Ivan Rodriguez) and even there (a) they are at least voting for a Hall-of-Famer and not a six-week wonder and (b) Posado could still catch him (no pun intended) at the very end. All of the other spots in which I don't agree with the voting mass are reasonable disagreements. If you're keeping score, that makes two elections in row that the voters have gotten right. Democracy rules! Kudos to you, good Thomas Jefferson and James Madison!

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