Handicapping Yankees' Stars' Early Odds of Making the 2013 All-Star Game
Due to performance and popularity, the Yankees enjoy very nice annual representation on the American League All-Star team. This year, even with a lack of stars like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees may still place several players on the All Star roster.
No one ever said that All-Star voting is fair.
In fact, it's a joke. Individuals are permitted to vote up to 25 times online and of course, infinite times in person at the ballpark. People with a modicum of baseball knowledge, or none at all, are given the opportunity to put their democratic stamp on which players participate in the midsummer classic.
Of course, this is all to encourage fan participation and interaction in the voting process. The All-Star Game does determine which league gets home field advantage in the World Series, a gimmicky maneuver by Major League Baseball to keep the game relevant.
For Yankee fans, maybe the only thing that makes this year's All-Star Game interesting is the fact that it's taking place in New York City. Just not in the borough most Bombers fans would prefer.
Citi Field, home of the Mets will host the game in July.
This should make it easier for more Yankee fans to attend the game if they choose. So perhaps the interest this year will be greater. But will the number of Bombers representing the junior circuit?
In 2012, the Yankees placed four all stars.
For the purpose of this column, I will not factor in the chances of those who have not yet played. Yes, Derek Jeter. Might he be voted in by the fans? Possibly but that further diminishes the integrity of the game.
Here is one humble man's attempt at handicapping the odds for some of the Bombers' stars to make the 2013 All Star team.
Mariano Rivera: 100%
With Mariano Rivera, there's never any doubt if you're a true, dyed in the wool Yankee fan.
So there should be absolutely zero doubt that this all-time great will make the All-Star team in his final major league season.
He's 13 for 13 in save opportunities this season, a sub 2.00 ERA and oh yeah, he's 43 years old and coming off a very complex knee surgery.
It's seriously time to conduct an investigation as to whether this man is actually human. Or something greater?
Robinson Cano: 95%
Barring an injury, expect to see Robinson Cano on the All-Star team.
In fact, expect to see him starting at second base and batting right in the middle of the lineup. Cano is one of the best players in baseball, in the prime of his career and no stranger to the excitement of All-Star weekend.
Cano won the 2011 Home Run Derby and instantly makes the roster better.
Hiroki Kuroda: 75%
Do Yankee fans realize how fortunate they are to watch Hiroki Kuroda pitch every five days?
Kuroda started off the season with a short outing against Boston, after getting hit with a comebacker on one of the fingers on his pitching hand.
He struggled in the first two innings of his next outing in Cleveland, then finished the game strong to earn the victory. Ever since, Kuroda has been nothing short of brilliant.
The 38-year-old veteran from Japan has been the best starting pitcher on the Yankees' staff for the last year-plus.
There's a sense of calm now when Kuroda takes the mound. The modern dad Yankee fan is quite surprised if Kuroda doesn't unfurl at minimum, a quality start. Thanks to his performance in pinstripes, it's time he starts getting his due as one of the game's best pitchers.
He deserves it. He also deserves his first All-Star game nod. For Kuroda, it would be a very nice honor for one of the best Asian pitchers Major League Baseball has ever seen.
CC Sabathia: 60%
Like Kuroda, CC Sabathia also has five quality starts so far this season and while much of the buzz in April was about diminished speed on his fastball, Sabathia is doing just fine for the Yankees.
When the weather warms, Sabathia usually turns in his finest work.
The Bombers' big lefty is surely no guarantee for the All-Star game, but given his track record and love of the big game spotlight, it's more likely than not you'll see the big Yankee southpaw in Queens come July.
Travis Hafner: 30%
Please stay healthy, Travis. PLEASE stay healthy!
Those are the thoughts Yankee fans are ruminating upon as they watch each game in 2013. Because Travis Hafner has been one of the best hitters in the American League this year, albeit at a slightly smaller sample size. He's rocking a .976 OPS with six home runs.
Hafner doesn't play every game and has sat several games against left-handed pitchers. He also was unable to start any of the games in Denver this week because he's exclusively playing the role of designated hitter this season for the Yankees.
Hafner has 98 plate appearances so far in 2013. Comparatively Robinson Cano, who has played in every game for the Yankees, has 145 plate appearances. So one could argue there is value lost with Hafner since he is unable to play every day.
True. But the Yankees don't want him playing everyday. They want him playing the entirely of the 2013 season, even if he needs a few off days here and there. It would be a blessing for the Yankee season if Hafner does not have to go on the disabled list.
So far, so good. Just like Hafner's chances to make the midsummer classic. But again, there's always the injury risk with him, which is why he comes in at 30%.
Vernon Wells: 25%
If Vernon Wells were a stock, chances are a lot of people would be lining up to sell right now.
The popular belief is that Wells' production to date is stupefyingly better than anyone could have hoped for. Yes, quite like John Newton, Wells was lost but now, at least for the first 33 games of the season, Wells is found!
Amazing grace for these New York Yankees.
But are we at the summit of Wells' production for this year?
He is 34 years old with more than 1,600 big league games under his belt. His best days are behind him. But it's been noticeable this year how Wells has responded to the spotlight of New York and how he's come through with some clutch at bats.
Time will tell.
Thing is, some really good players just need some extra motivation. This happens all the time in sports.
Maybe Wells got his by coming to New York.