I completely understand what the All-Star game is all about. It’s set up for the fans, by the fans, but the definition of a baseball All-Star should be changed; its much more of a popularity contest that ends up determining home field advantage for the World Series.
I believe performance should trump popularity when the game has this much meaning. The All Star game comes off like the scene in Rocky 3 where all the press, fans, and bubbles are there watching Rocky ‘train’ while old-school Clubber Lang is on a mission. I bet if it were less fan-dictated, we’d have a lot more players show up and actually WANT to play hard.
Let’s look at the AL shortstop position. Derek Jeter, in my eyes the face of baseball, has been named the starter. Yes, he went on a tear early but has cooled down quite a bit. Let’s not even get into his defense because any baseball fan worth their salt knows he’s, at best, a middle of the road defender. So here you have two dynamite fielders having terrific years at the plate in Asdrubal Cabrera and Elvis Andrus who will have to wait and hope they get to show America their skills.
Maybe a fan-oriented game could be held after the final game of the World Series. Fans could use a season’s worth of performance to decide who they believe deserves to get in. The result might not be any different than it is now, but at least it won’t have the implications.
What I would propose is that players, managers, owners, executives, and sportswriters should have their vote weigh more than the fan vote for the mid-season classic. Let’s get the best performers of both leagues together and have them play in a game that would more Clubber Lang than champion Rocky Balboa.
My choices if I actually had a strong say in who should be playing in what I would refer to as the Major League Baseball’s Mid-Season Clash:
-Both have wOBAs over .400, more home runs, higher ISOs, and are better fielders than the Prince
-Right now, Cano might be the best hitter in the game. An argument could be made for Kinsler, but I’ll take the Zobrist’s defense as the deciding factor.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
-Two of the best defensive players in the game and better offensively than Jeter
-Going with the two that were selected
-No Curtis Granderson due to his low batting average (.249) and propensity for strikeouts. Picked Jackson because of his better OPS and wOBA. I left Bautisa off because of his weak start, though I could just as easily swap him for Willingham
-Ortiz is still the best in the biz at DH and Butler is another guy flying under the radar (.297 BA, 16 HR, .216 ISO, .374 wOBA
Starter– Chris Sale, White Sox
Justin Verlander, Tigers
Jered Weaver, Angels
Jake Peavy, White Sox
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Ernesto Frieri, Angels
Charlie Furbush, Mariners
Joe Nathan, Rangers
Closer– Fernando Rodney
-Sale is my starter (3.22 SIERA, 3.2 WAR, 54 ERA-). A lot of you may not know Ernesto Erieri but I love his zero ERA in 24 IP, 42 Ks, and 16.8 Swinging Strike percent. I left off Perez because I don’t even think he’s the best reliever in Cleveland (Pestano) and put on Furbush because of his 1.84 SIERA.
-Ruiz is having a monster year so far but Yadi is the better defender. I picked Ruiz because of the higher WAR
-Votto is the best hitter in the NL, bar none. I wanted to go with Goldschmidt, but Freemans glove has been terrific.
-Hill leads second basemen in WAR and wOBA and ISO. The Astros Jose Altuve or Ormar Infate from Miami could be here but Phillips being left off the roster is a crime. Dan Uggla’s average is far too low for an ‘All Star’.
-With no Tulo, Desmond is the best shortstop in the NL (.340 wOBA, 2.7 WAR, 13 HRs, .484 SLG). Reyes (.322 w0BA) and Scutaro (.284 BA) are deserving, but Lowrie gets the backup slot (14 HR, .222 ISO, .357 wOBA). Furcal is ready for a regress.
–Pablo Sandoval starting at third? Wright might be the biggest starting snub (.560 SLG, .418 wOBA, 98 hits, 1.15 BB/K). Headley’s 3.3 WAR, 10 SB, and great defense give him the edge in a shallow position pool.
-Same depth as the players selected but minus the injured Kemp. I prefer McCutchen to Beltran as a starter because of defense dispite recent injury. And because of who he plays for, CarGo tends to go unnoticed.
-Yes, the NL has no DH but they are playing in KC this year so I picked the two best hitters I didn’t take at a position.
Starter– Steven Strasburg, Nationals
-RA Dickey could start but Strasburg gets the nod on personal preference. It’s a travesty that Lance Lynn gets to pitch while Grenkie is ignored (72 vs 94 ERA-). Who is Brad Lincoln? 0.38 ERA, 10 ERA-, 2.05 FIP, 81.9% LOB for the Pirates.