In typical Yankees fashion, a flip of the calendar from one month to the other means a complete 180 degree turn in the team’s play. After a month where the Yankees went just 17-14, lost three games in a row three different times, and seemingly went one-for-a billion with runners in scoring position, June has proved totally different. The Yankees are 4-1 this month on the strength of stellar pitching performances from the likes of Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova and a hot offense that has outscored opponents 28-10. What a turnaround so far.
June 5th marks the end of the first one-third of the season, which means that the 2013 All Star Game is nearly upon us. The Yankees have been up and down all season long, but are there any Yankees that have been consistent enough to warrant a starting spot on the AL team or even just a selection as an alternate? Lets take a glance at the roster and find out.
Catcher: Russell Martin
How he made the All Star team last year, I’ll never know. He hit .220 in the first half of 2011. Was there no one else in the league producing at the catcher position besides Alex Avila and Matt Wieters? Probably the least deserving All Star I’ve seen in a long while. And even more than last year, Russell Martin doesn’t deserve to be within 100 miles of the Midsummer Classic. There’s no question about that. My pick: A.J. Pierzynski
First Base- Mark Teixeira
Tex does have the second most home runs of any American League first baseman with ten, just behind Paul Konerko’s 11 dingers, but it’s incredibly tough to make a case for the Yankees first baseman considering the competition. Konerko has highest average (.366), highest on base percentage (.445), most home runs and second most RBI’s of any first baseman on the ballot and Prince Fielder has put up some large numbers too. Teixeira could beat out Albert Pujols to be the third first baseman on the roster, if AL manager Ron Washington decides to have one, but the way Pujols has been hitting these last few weeks, it’s hard to imagine he and his name missing out on the All Star game while Texeira suits up for the good guys. My pick: Paul Konerko
Second Base-Robinson Cano
I voted for Cano when I filled out my All Star ballot yesterday and you should consider that too. After his relatively slow start to the season, Cano has found his way to the top of the leaderboard when it comes to home runs by a second baseman, and of course he’s playing tip top defense, as we’ve come to expect from him. His .290 average leads all second baseman on the ballot as well. Like past years, he’s currently involved in a dog fight with Ian Kinsler for votes, with Dustin Pedroia hanging around in third place. Cano has comparable, if not better numbers than both of them but the man who arguably deserves that starting spot despite his recent cold streak is Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis. A .280 average, 41 runs scored, 9 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and 14 stolen bases will normally get you an All Star nod, especially for such a weak hitting position, but apparently not. Kipnis is not in the top 5 of the voting as of today and don’t expect him to ever crack it. He plays for Cleveland after all, who, believe it or not, are a half game out of first place in the AL Central. My pick: Cano
Third Base-Alex Rodriguez
If A-Rod was a second baseman or a shortstop this year, then yes he should be an all star. But (unfortunately for his sake) he shares the same position as Miguel Cabrera, Mark Trumbo, Adrian Beltre, and impressive sophomore Mike Moustakas of the Royals. It’s pretty hard for a glorified singles hitter as of now to compete with the likes of Cabrera’s 49 RBI’s or Trumbo’s .337 average. If A-Rod makes this team, then expect to see the Twitter-sphere explode over someone else getting the snub of the year. My pick: Mark Trumbo
Shorstop- Derek Jeter
Fully expect the Captain to be leading off and playing shortstop at Kauffman Stadium on July 10th. Elvis Andrus deserves the backup role and guys like J.J. Hardy, Mike Aviles, and Asdrubal are fringe candidates, but it will be Jeter making his 13th All Star Game of his magical career. Take that to the bank. My pick: Jeter
First thing’s first, Gardner hasn’t played since I was still two weeks away from finals at St. John’s last semester, so he’s out. And with men like Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Josh Willingham, Josh Reddick, and teammate Curtis Granderson on the roster, there’s simply no room for Swisher and his less-than-special numbers in right field at Kansas City this July.
Speaking of Curtis Granderson, he is more than deserving of an All Star vote. He may not have the average or absurb RBI total of a guy like Hamilton, but he’s still produced in a big way. His 17 home runs are more than anyone not covered in tattoos patrolling the Rangers outfield and he’s third among AL outfielders in runs, just two behind Hamilton. Lastly, we all know how solid he is with the glove, and to me, defense definitely plays into who deserves to be an All Star. The AL outfield ballot may not be as loaded as the NL outfield ballot, but the choice of 2nd and 3rd outfielders behind Hamilton is still quite difficult. My picks: Granderson, Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones
Designated Hitter- Raul Ibanez
I know it’s still somewhat early in the year, but I want to apologize to Ibanez for doubting him and calling him “Grandpa Raul” here on Bronx Baseball Daily. At an age where many major leaguers have either retired or are at least close to it, Ibanez has been somewhat of a revelation. If you told me, after his 1 hit Spring Training, that you expected 9 home runs, 29 RBI’s, and dozens of timely hits from Ibanez come the beginning of June, I would have asked you for next week’s winning lottery numbers. Quite simply, he’s exceeded all expectations at this point. But with that said, he is no All Star. Not with David Ortiz or Edwin Encarnacion on the ballot at the same position. My pick: David Ortiz
Yankees fans are so accustomed to having Mariano Rivera as well as two or three starters being All Star’s each season, but times are about to change. Thanks to that tear in his ACL and David Robertson’s balky oblique muscle, the Yankees will not have a reliever in the All Star game this season. But the starting rotation might be slightly different. And when I say slightly, I mean very slightly.
Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova are all automatic ‘absolutely not’s’ when it comes to an All Star selection. Andy Pettitte, if he keeps putting together ridiculous starts like the gem on Wednesday night against the Rays, then Ron Washington may have to consider the ol’ lefty, but as of right now, he’s a ‘no’ as well. Which leaves us with only C.C. Sabathia.
Coming into Thursday night, Sabathia was one of the many AL pitchers tied for the league lead in wins with 7. His 3.68 ERA may be a bit high, but he’s still sixth of all AL starting pitchers (minimum 8 starts) in WAR with 1.8. He also is currently in the top ten in win-loss percentage, strikeouts per 9 innings and innings pitched. He may not have the greatest numbers of any AL starter out there, but they are solid All Star caliber numbers for sure.
If it were up to me to select the All Star team, my Yankees representatives would be Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and C.C. Sabathia. Just three All Stars is down from the normal six or so that we’re used to but who knows, maybe someone gets hot and things change. The All Star Game is still just over a month away anyway.