Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton (32) hits an RBI single. Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

2012 All Star Ballots are in and the Losers are...the Voters: Part 1 The American League

The ballots have been tallied both online and in each of the 32 stadiums hosting Major League Baseball.  As expected, the voters made excellent decisions, except for when they didn’t.  Over the next two days I will look at the best candidates and spend some time examining the statistical legacy each has left during the first half of the 2012 season.  Today we will leave the Blog Red Machine norm and start with the American League squad.  You will notice this squad is not called the Yankees American League squad or the Rangers American League squad yet you would think they were the only two teams in the league when you look over the results.  Let’s take a peek at the numbers and see what we can find.  The stats I will use for this comparison among position players are batting average, runs, RBI, HR, OPS, SB, and Errors.

Catcher

It is fitting, with apologies to Johnny Cueto, that we start here with the most egregious mistake on the 2012 All Star Game roster.  The voters loyal to the Texas Rangers selected Mike Napoli as the Catcher elected to the All Star Team.  Before I write more about this mistake here are the numbers.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Mike Napoli C Rangers .238 36 30 12 .782 0 2 Fans
Matt Wieters C Orioles .249 33 38 11 .771 0 7 Players
Joe Mauer C Twins .325 37 36 4 .865 1 1 Coach
A.J. Pierzynski C White Sox .285 36 45 14 .849 0 2 Out

Let me start with a rule of thumb.  Star behavior does not include failing to hit the ball three quarters of the time.  So when I look over this list I see Mike Napoli who was elected by the voters and Matt Wieters who was selected by the players.  Looking at the stats, neither can build a compelling argument to be a part of this team.  Ron Washington righted on of these wrongs by adding Joe Mauer to the team.  That leaves just one deserving candidate off of the team:  A.J. Pierzynski.  As a side note AJ earned my vote but Mauer is also an excellent choice, Washington did a good job.

First Base

Prince Fielder won the National League 1B vote in 2011 over the reigning MVP Joey Votto and Albert Pujols while playing for the small market Milwaukee Brewers because he is a pretty good ballplayer.  Now with Fielder and Pujols in the American League and Pujols only now beginning to show signs of life, this race was over before it began.  In order to paint an accurate picture, here are the stats to back up the argument.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Prince Fielder 1B Tigers .294 42 52 12 .856 1 7 Fans
Paul Konerko 1B White Sox .336 38 40 14 .969 0 1 Players
Albert Pujols 1B Angels .269 39 47 12 .789 4 3 Out

Paul Konerko has done a good job but Fielder has more runs scored and more RBI.  Looking at Abert’s numbers I would guess that if he had one more month this race would become a lot more interesting.

Second Base

I have mixed feelings about this race.  In truth, I can not fault the decisions of anyone involved.  I voted for Jason Kipnis, and his numbers are excellent, in fact they are almost exactly the same as those of Brandon Phillips, but you can’t argue with the performance of Robinson Cano or Ian Kinsler.  Here are the stats:

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Robinson Cano 2B Yankees .308 54 44 19 .952 1 4 Fans
Ian Kinsler 2B Rangers .276 60 40 9 .787 15 11 Players
Jason Kipnis 2B Indians .275 47 46 11 .762 19 3 Out

The biggest difference between Kipnis and Phillips is the stolen base totals.  There is a little surprise from a Cleveland perspective but no verbal comment by Jason.  He looks like a good player but as yet does not have the pedigree to get elected.

Short Stop

One of the challenges the All Star Game presents is there are certain players that have such popularity they generate votes across the country for their career body of work.  In a year where his stats are better than they were last year, Derek Jeter can do no wrong.  As good as his numbers are, Asdrubal Cabrera and Elvis Andrus numbers are better.  Mike Aviles production numbers make him competitive as well.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Derek Jeter SS Yankees .300 41 25 7 .757 6 6 Fans
Asdrubal Cabrera SS Indians .298 40 40 11 .871 2 9 Players
Elvis Andrus SS Rangers .305 51 31 1 .792 16 9 Coach
Mike Aviles SS Red Sox .266 39 43 9 .705 9 7 Out

I voted for Cabrera and I think convincing arguments can be made for both he and Andrus.  In the end for me it was Cabrera’s defense that make him the best choice.  I do not have a problem though with Jeter making this team.

Third Base

As much as I think Fielder was a no brainer at first base, I felt Miguel Cabrera was a lock at third.  Enter the Rangers bias into this election.  Adrian Beltre deserves to be on the All Star team I just think the fans made an error in judgement selecting him as the starter over Cabrera.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Adrian Beltre 3B Rangers .328 45 52 14 .894 1 5 Fans
Miguel Cabrera 3B Tigers .315 45 62 16 .917 3 8 Players

 Outfield

Always the most complicated position because you are selecting 3 players the choices are quite interesting this year.  I like watching home runs but in truth home runs do not make a player great.  Production makes a player an All Star.  Josh Hamilton

is a man on fire receiving the most votes of any player this year on the strength of his 25 home runs but more importantly, his 124 runs produced (R+RBI).  He was an easy choice, after that the complications ensue.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Errors Selected By
Josh Hamilton CF Rangers .319 51 73 25 1.038 6 4 Fans
Curtis Granderson CF Yankees .245 54 46 23 .857 6 1 Fans
Jose Bautista RF Blue Jays .239 56 62 26 .908 4 2 Fans
Adam Jones CF Orioles .300 51 41 19 .897 8 7 Players
Mike Trout CF Angels .336 56 32 8 .917 22 3 Players
Mark Trumbo OF Angels .313 37 53 19 .977 4 5 Players
Austin Jackson CF Tigers .326 45 34 8 .945 7 2 Out
Josh Willingham LF Twins .268 42 52 16 .913 2 2 Out

It is hard to argue with the production numbers of either Curtis Granderson or Jose Bautista and I wouldn’t except for the stats of the competition.  In the end OPS separates the contestants in my mind.  Austin Jackson should be on this squad and the weak links for me are Adam Jones and Curtis Granderson. I also have to interject that the rest of the league should take note of these numbers and recognize this will be the last year, possibly in a decade, that Mike Trout is not elected to the team.  His numbers are incredible given that he started the season in AAA.

Designated Hitter

How I hate the designated hitter, let me count the ways…well, I won’t bore you with that here.  Instead we should examine the numbers.

Player Position Team BA Runs RBI HR OPS SB Selected By
David Ortiz DH Red Sox .305 57 53 21 1.006 0 Fans
Adam Dunn DH White Sox .213 44 58 24 .878 0 Players
Billy Butler DH Royals .297 29 48 16 .881 1 Coach
Edwin Encarnacion DH Blue Jays .289 50 55 22 .936 8 Out

So the fans got it right, Ortiz is head and shoulders above the rest.  After that I am lost.  Adam Dunn is one of my favorite former Reds players, I am thrilled he has become productive again.  But an All Star?  With a .213 batting average and 126 strikeouts?  This strikeout total makes the number Drew Stubbs posted last season seem insignificant.  If this number is projected through the season he will break the record for most strikeouts in a season by 50!  There is no excuse Edwin Encarnacion did not make the cut.  His numbers are better than either Butler or Dunn so both the players and Ron Washington made a mistake in my opinion.

Starting Pitching

This creates new questions.  First, why are fans entrusted with selecting the starting lineup but not any pitching?  Why are the final vote competitors in the AL all pitchers?  We will never know.  Here are the numbers.

Player Position Team ERA WHIP W L Avg SO BB Selected By
David Price SP Rays 2.92 1.22 11 4 .242 97 35 Players
CC Sabathia SP Yankees 3.45 1.27 9 3 .257 105 29 Players
Chris Sale SP White Sox 2.27 0.97 9 2 .198 94 24 Players
Justin Verlander SP Tigers 2.69 0.98 8 5 .204 121 29 Players
Jered Weaver SP Angels 2.31 0.92 8 1 .193 66 18 Players
C.J. Wilson SP Angels 2.36 1.15 9 4 .204 81 41 Coach
Matt Harrison SP Rangers 3.16 1.24 11 3 .263 65 25 Coach
Felix Hernandez SP Mariners 3.09 1.22 6 5 .248 114 32 Coach
Yu Darvish SP Rangers 3.57 1.38 10 4 .228 106 50 Final
Jake Peavy SP White Sox 2.96 0.99 6 5 .215 101 24 Final
Jason Hammel SP Orioles 3.29 1.19 8 3 .227 89 32 Final
Brandon Morrow SP Blue Jays 3.01 1.00 7 4 .194 67 24 Out

My complaints here revolve around a number of players on and one off the roster.  CC Sabathia has a wonderful track record but his WHIP, his ERA and the batting average against him are both elevated more than they should be, he wins because of the Yankees offence.  The same can be said for the Rangers Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison.  I give a pass to Felix Hernandez of the Mariners as he had to be selected as the lone representative of his team.  That brings me to the one off the roster, the Blue Jays Brandon Morrow.  Morrow has a slightly elevated ERA, but the rest of his numbers are outstanding.  Only Jered Weaver has a lower opponent batting average and he is one of 5 on the list with a WHIP of one or less.  Morrow should be on this team.

Yarvish, Peavy and Hammel are part of the final selection group.  Peavy is the best of this group but ultimately I would not pick any of them, for the we must take a look at the relievers.

Relief Pitchers

This is the hardest decision of all.  In this category we are forced to compare apples occasionaly to oranges.  Here are the numbers.

Player Position Team ERA WHIP Sv Hld Avg SO BB Selected By
Jim Johnson RP Orioles 1.30 0.78 23 0 .154 22 9 Players
Chris Perez RP Indians 2.76 1.02 23 0 .207 30 7 Players
Fernando Rodney RP Rays 1.04 0.75 22 0 .172 35 5 Players
Ryan Cook RP A’s 1.59 0.97 6 11 .109 37 21 Coach
Joe Nathan RP Rangers 1.87 0.89 18 0 .213 42 4 Coach
Jonathan Broxton RP Royals 2.05 1.34 20 0 .257 23 12 Final
Ernesto Frieri RP Angels 0.75 0.97 10 7 .133 60 19 Final
Vinnie Pestano RP Indians 2.03 1.03 0 18 .171 36 13 Out
Scott Downs RP Angels 0.35 1.04 6 14 .219 18 6 Out

 Let’s return to the AL Final Vote, in addition to the 3 starters Jonathan Broxton and Ernesto Frieri are tossed into the mix.  Peavy would be my choice among the starters but Frieri’s ERA, WHIP, and opponent average are exceptional and worth of his choice.  That leaves one odd man out, Frieri’s teammate Scott Downs.  Downs numbers demand more attention but that is the problem with set up men.  It is very difficult to get them invited to the show.  He deserves better.

Tomorrow I will review the National League choices and see if National League fans and players do a better job than their American League counterparts.  Finally I will go where you knew I would and discuss the involvement of retired manager and MLB employee Tony LaRussa.  Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz

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Tags: 2012 All Star Game A.J. Pierzynski Adam Dunn Adam Jones Adrian Beltre Albert Pujols Asdrubal Cabrera Austin Jackson Brandon Morrow Brandon Phillips CC Sabathia Chris Perez Chris Sale CJ Wilson Curtis Granderson David Ortiz David Price Derek Jeter Drew Stubbs Edwin Encarnacion Elvis Andrus Ernesto Frieri Felix Hernandez Fernando Rodney Ian Kinsler Jake Peavy Jason Hammel Jason Kipnis Jered Weaver Jim Johnson Joe Mauer Joe Nathan Joey Votto Jonathan Broxton Jose Bautista Josh Hamilton Josh Willingham Justin Verlander Mark Trumbo Matt Harrison Matt Wieters Miguel Cabrera Mike Aviles Mike Napoli Mike Trout Paul Konerko Prince Fielder Robinson Cano Ron Washington Ryan Cook Scott Downs Vinnie Pestano Yu Darvish

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