Options Abound Part 2: NL All Star Update

Eight days ago I posted a guide to selecting National League players to the All Star team.  As of that day I believe it was an unbiased view of the races without any idea of who was leading in the various races.  Now the first votes are counted and the races are taking shape so how is Jon Q. Fan  doing?  Are they worthy of the sacred trust they have been given?  Let’s check it out?1st Base:  Currently Leading – Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals.  Let me start this by uttering words found sacrilegious among Reds fans.  I am an unabashed Pujols fan, when playing at the height of his ability he was fun to watch.  The All Star game though depends on fans leaving their opinions behind and selecting the best player based on the numbers.  And in 2011, Albert Pujols is not the Albert we are familiar with for the last decade.

First Base BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Prince Fielder .297 30 11 42 0 .931
Ryan Howard .252 28 12 42 0 .844
Albert Pujols .262 32 9 30 4 .740
Joey Votto .330 37 6 30 4 .979

Looking at these numbers that are provided on the MLB voting page, with the addition of the OPS number that represents true excellence in my opinion, it is hard to understand how Pujols is winning beyond name recognition.  He leads in no category excepting SBs and his OPS is not competitive.  Votto and Fielder in my humble opinion still look best and Joey’s OPS is very strong.  If you look at the vote you will see that Freddie Freeman is in 5th place, more on the Braves as we move along.

2nd Base:  Currently Leading – Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds.  The voting here is mind boggling to me.  Phillips is slightly ahead of Weeks and that makes sense, but the simple fact that Uggla and Utley have even one vote tells me a lot of people are simply “Homers” with no concept of what the word “All Star” means.

Second Base BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Brandon Phillips .300 32 5 30 4 .785
Dan Uggla .178 20 7 16 1 .568
Chase Utley .208 4 1 2 2 .720
Neil Walker .265 30 6 31 2 .749
Rickie Weeks .282 37 9 21 6 .844

Embarrassing.  The idea that Uggla and Utley have even one vote is sad.  Philadelphia and Atlanta should be ashamed.  That said Phillips and Weeks are both looking very competitive and should fight it out to the end.  Neil Walker is slightly behind statistically but as we see in a minute our own Bomber Bruce will show how a race can turn on a dime.

Shortstop:  Currently Leading – Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies.  In my first installment, I mentioned their were no front runners at this position and suggested the choice was between Drew, Reyes, and Tulowitzki.  But again, the Braves and Phillies have installed underperforming representatives from their teams into the mix so lets check them all out.

Shortstop BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Stephen Drew .285 29 3 29 4 .805
Alex Gonzalez .273 28 5 16 1 .699
Jose Reyes .335 36 1 17 19 .876
Jimmy Rollins .265 30 3 18 12 .698
Troy Tulowitzki .250 27 11 31 3 .806

In this case I must definitively say that Reyes deserves your All Star vote.  The numbers are simply overwhelming.  The OPS of Gonzalez and Rollins are indicative of why they have no business receiving votes.

Third Base:  Currently Leading – Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies.  Phillies in first, Braves in second…do you sense a theme?  To avoid jumping on a soapbox let’s take a look at the numbers.

Third Base BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Chipper Jones .250 19 4 29 0 .757
Placido Polanco .317 27 3 29 3 .767
Ryan Roberts .280 29 7 22 8 .864
Scott Rolen .254 20 2 18 1 .706
Pablo Sandoval .313 11 5 14 1 .904
David Wright .226 23 1 4 1 .741

These are the top 5 in the 3B vote plus the sleeper pick I suggested last week, Ryan Roberts.  Rolen, Sandoval and Wright have all missed time this season and their numbers reflect that fact.  Aside from his RBI totals, Chipper Jones deserves no consideration, leaving Roberts and Polanco as the best choices.  Given my disgust at the “Homer” attitude in Philadelphia I opine that Roberts is quite deserving of a write in ballot.

Catcher:  Currently Leading – Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants.  This may be the sentimental vote many fans.  Posey will not be able to appear in the All Star Game and will doubtfully return at all this season and baseball will miss him.  Lets see how the other contenders fare.

Catcher BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Ramon Hernandez .307 13 7 17 0 .896
Brian McCann .304 15 6 29 1 .830
Yadier Molina .311 18 3 24 1 .813
Miguel Montero .287 26 6 27 0 .837
Buster Posey .284 17 4 21 3 .756
Carlos Ruiz .250 14 2 10 0 .725

This time the guilty “Homer” votes again fall to a Phillies player.  Carlos Ruiz has no business being considered behind the plate.  Posey’s numbers before his injury were good but not up to the standard he set last year in his rookie season.  Hernandez has the most HR and the best OPS, while the Braves finally have the only member of their lineup truly worthy of consideration in Brian McCann who has the most runs batted in.  Molina and Montero also make a reasonable argument for their selection.  The nice thing here is that with Giants manager Bruce Bochy managing the NL team, we will truly get the best representative at this position.

Outfield:  Currently Leading – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals; and Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals.  A week ago I left Jay Bruce out of my recommendations.  His numbers were good, but others were slightly better.  The worm has turned!  This report will list the 9 top contenders in votes with Bruce and Hunter Pence thrown in.

Outfield BA R HR RBI SB OPS
Carlos Beltran .279 25 8 28 0 .883
Lance Berkman .344 34 11 36 0 1.086
Ryan Braun .318 40 12 39 13 1.000
Jay Bruce .294 38 16 43 4 .937
Andre Ethier .330 23 5 26 0 .875
Jason Heyward .214 19 7 14 3 .724
Matt Holliday .344 31 6 31 0 .981
Matt Kemp .308 33 12 36 14 .929
Hunter Pence .312 25 7 40 3 .820
Alfonso Soriano .271 25 12 29 0 .823
Shane Victorino .284 25 6 19 8 .846

This is such a tough category.  Valid arguments can be made for Braun, Berkman and Holliday but when you are leading in two of the 3 categories for the Triple Crown, you deserve a vote.  Jay Bruce has taken over control of both the RBI and HR race in recent days and it is simply a joke that he is 12th in the balloting.  Matt Kemp and Hunter Pence also put up strong numbers but the race should be between the three frontrunners and Bruce.

Not one to let a dead horse lie, I must return to the discussion of what is wrong with people in Atlanta.  Are you simply not paying attention?  Jason Heyward has almost reached half a million votes and he is batting at a .214 clip.  The league should stop counting ballots from the state of Georgia.

Final Thoughts

I must return to the theme of this article.  There is no reason two teams fan base should attempt to hijack the All Star game simply because of population.  The MLB should continue to study and look for more effective ways of selecting this team while allowing fans a muted voice.  That said the every position has a credible leader with the exception of First Base.  We all know what happened to Joey Votto last year in the voting and this year he probably has lost a couple of votes due to his lack of Home Run production.  It is a shame though that there at least 3 better choices than Pujols yet he leads all voting in the NL.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz

 

 

Topics: All-Star Game, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto

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  • http://thatballsouttahere.com Justin

    John, you warned me about this, and I tried to resist, but I’ve already started typing.

    Couple of things.

    First, to assume that all the votes for people like Chipper Jones and Chase Utley are coming solely from their fanbases is unfair. I’m sure there are many voters out there who see Utley or Jones on a ballot, think “Yeah they’re usually in this game,” click, and move on. Not everyone makes All-Star voting a thoughtful, analytic process (which, I realize, is kind of your point) they just recognize a name and keep going.

    Secondly, I love how Phillies and Braves players receiving undeserved votes is homerism, but Buster Posey’s lead is based on “sentimentality.” Its not like Buster got all his votes within the last week after getting hurt. Using that logic, what about Utley? He missed the first the six weeks of the season due to injury. At what point did his voters transform from sentimental people to homers?

    That said, no, none of this is fair and there will be people who deserve to go who won’t. It sucks. If you think this is bad, wait until you see how many Yankees are starting on the other side. Can’t wait for Nick Swisher’s contractually obligated pregame Norelco plug before he jogs out to right field.

    /rant over

    • John Heitz

      Well as Justin noted I did warn him in part because I enjoy his writing and his ability to sort out the truth and call things as they are with regards to the Phillies.

      Ballot stuffing happens everywhere in baseball, where it becomes a bit more obvious isn’t with starts that most casual fans recognize like Utley, but actually is a bit more apparent with a player like Carlos Ruiz, who has no where near the same name recognition outside of the Philly fan base. Another problem with the system is that teams announce nominated players for the team almost immediately after opening day so injuries not only are not considered but stellar performance from unexpected sources is not taken into account such as the spectacular play of Ryan Roberts in Arizona that no one will know or acknowledge. Votto was overlooked last year and Bruce looks in danger of being missed this year and even for players not making the team they certainly deserve to see the quality of their play recognized for what it is. When a player looks at the vote tallies and sees he is behind in the voting to a player not batting .200, paycheck aside it must frustrating. Not trying to stir trouble up hear with fan bases as much as encourage creative minds to think of better solutions to this problem.

      One possibility would be a three part vote system where players, media types and fans got to get involved.

      Last thing I will comment on is the comparison of Posey’s situation to Utley’s. The difference between the two is one is capable of playing and has yet to hit his stride but I have no doubt it will come. The other is simply unavailable to play giving the manager the ability to put the right, deserving player in place. Look at the numbers, Posey, in my opinion, does not deserve election. Hurt or not he has no better than the fourth best stats at Catcher.

  • Steve Engbloom

    I don’t think anyone is delusional enough to think that the voting for the All-Star Game is a truly fair process. It’s a combination of popularity and you will see a couple that truly deserve the vote. One area where I completely agree with Justin is that not all votes for a particular team come solely from that fanbase. Name recognition does play a factor if a voter is not particularly familiar with all “candidates” especially when you look at the other league.

    And the “ballot box stuffing” does not pertain only to those in Philly and Atlanta as I think you’re implying. It happens all over. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen on Twitter where a Reds fan has takes his/her 25 votes and voted all Reds on their ballot. There’s no way all 8 Reds on the ballot even deserve a vote either. Votto, BP and Bruce definitely deserve a lot of consideration. You could even put Hernandez in the mix at catcher. Stubbs is a tweener. He is among the NL leaders in runs and steals, but there are many other deserving players at the position. But saying Rolen, Janish, and Gomes deserve any votes is simply staggering to me.

    I’m not foolish enough to believe that this all levels out in the end. It doesn’t. It never does. As you eluded to in this post, Reds fans saw the unjust nature of the vote last year with Votto. It will happen again this year. On eplayer who truly deserve to be selected as a starter or as a “backup” must sweat out the final vote.

    On a side note/rant, this is THE reason why the ASG should NOT be used to determine home field advantage for the World Series. If a league cannot be presented with the best players, it should be seen for what it is (and what it was initially designed to be), an exhibition and nothing more.

    One thing that’s being lost (and sometimes forgotten) is how that vote was initially taken away from the fans prior to the fans getting back this “right” for the ’71 ASG. In 1957 Reds fans did the ol’ stuffing of the ballot box and had 7 Reds selected to start. The only non-Red was Stan Musial. Then Commissioner Ford Frick selected two other well known players (Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) as starters and stripped the fans of voting due to the various practices done within Cincinnati.

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