Most Undeserving MLB All-Star Starters in Early Fan Voting
The MLB All-Star Game is a little over a month away, but voting for the 2013 rosters is already very much underway, with the most recent voting totals for the NL and AL released over the weekend by MLB.com.
There are still a lot of votes to be cast, and there will no doubt be a few changes to the starting lineups, but here is how things would look if the voting closed June 10.
C Joe Mauer, MIN
1B Chris Davis, BAL
2B Robinson Cano, NYY
SS J.J. Hardy, BAL
3B Miguel Cabrera, DET
OF Adam Jones, BAL
OF Mike Trout LAA
OF Torii Hunter, DET
DH David Ortiz, BOS
C Buster Posey, SF
1B Joey Votto, CIN
2B Brandon Phillips, CIN
SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL
3B Pablo Sandoval, SF
OF Justin Upton, ATL
OF Bryce Harper, WAS
OF Carlos Beltran, STL
While there are no glaringly ridiculous starters here, there are a handful of more deserving candidates to start who are currently trailing in the voting. Here is a look at who those guys are, in my opinion.
*Note: WAR numbers courtesy of FanGraphs.
AL Second Baseman: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Robinson Cano: .272/.339/.500, 67 H, 15 HR, 40 RBI, 31 R, 1.6 WAR
Dustin Pedroia: .331/.416/.457, 84 H, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 45 R, 2.9 WAR
Robinson Cano is a fine pick at second base, and from a run-production standpoint there is no second baseman in all of baseball that is in the same league as him.
However, Dustin Pedroia is having a fantastic season, as he ranks behind only Miguel Cabrera (90) and Manny Machado (86) for most hits in baseball so far this season, and he deserves the starting nod at this point.
A case can be made for Howie Kendrick (.317/.356/.463) over Cano as well, though it looks like Kendrick may wind up being snubbed altogether if the AL opts to go with just two second basemen.
AL Shortstop: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
J.J. Hardy: .271/.307/.486, 67 H, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 27 R, 2.0 WAR
Jhonny Peralta: .339/.388/.493, 75 H, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 31 R, 2.5 WAR
Another case of voters valuing power numbers over everything else. J.J. Hardy is by no means having a poor season, and it would be between him and the Athletics' Jed Lowrie for the backup spot if I were picking the team, but Peralta is clearly having the best season of any AL shortstop.
Peralta actually currently trails both Hardy and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus in voting, despite being second to teammate Miguel Cabrera in batting average in the AL.
His 2.5 WAR has already matched his total from all of last season; there was even talk of the Tigers potentially trading for a shortstop this winter after Peralta struggled in 2012. It's safe to say he's turning things around, though.
AL Outfielder: Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers
Torii Hunter: .306/.354/.413, 72 H, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 34 R, 0.8 WAR
Alex Rios: .286/.344/.490, 69 H, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 35 R, 2.3 WAR
Mike Trout and Adam Jones are currently first and second in voting among AL outfielders, and both are more than deserving of a starting spot. However, Torii Hunter at No. 3 in the voting is questionable.
Hunter is having a solid season and has been a big pickup for the Tigers to fill the void in right field and at the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
However, both Alex Rios (CWS) and Jose Bautista (TOR) have more impressive numbers across the board and would be better choices to start. Bautista is currently fifth in voting, while Rios does not even crack the top 15.
The White Sox's only legitimate All-Star options are ace Chris Sale, closer Addison Reed and Rios, so he has a decent chance of making it despite his low vote total.
NL Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey: .302/.381/.502, 62 H, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 25 R, 2.2 WAR
Yadier Molina: .354/.394/.493, 79 H, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 27 R, 2.6 WAR
It is clear that Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are the top two catchers in the National League, and regardless of who wins the starting nod, both will almost certainly be on the roster.
Molina, long known for his premier defense, has emerged as an offensive force over the past few seasons; he's currently leading the National League in hitting.
Giants fans have been voting like crazy this season, and Posey is currently almost 300,000 votes up on Molina, but there is still time for Molina to pass him.
NL Third Baseman: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
Pablo Sandoval: .289/.326/.427, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 26 R, 0.9 WAR
David Wright: .279/.373/.465, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 31 R, 2.5 WAR
Pablo Sandoval earned the starting nod at third base last season for the National League, as he was hitting .307/.362/.500 with eight home runs and 30 RBI at the All-Star break.
He's putting up similar numbers this season and currently leads David Wright in the voting by about 200,000 votes.
They are the two most deserving third basemen among NL candidates. Both will likely make it regardless of who starts, but Wright is more deserving of the starting honor at this point.
NL Outfielder: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
Justin Upton: .250/.361/.487, 14 HR, 29 RBI, 43 R, 1.6 WAR
Carlos Gonzalez: .302/.380/.612, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 51 R, 2.9 WAR
Braves newcomer Justin Upton got off to a phenomenal start this season, hitting .298/.402/.734 with 12 home runs in the first month of the season.
However, he's hit just .211 with two home runs and 10 RBI since May 1, and he is no longer deserving of an All-Star nod at this point, at least not as a starter.
Instead, it should be Carlos Gonzalez,currently sitting at seventh in the voting, who gets the start. Not only is he having a great season, but his numbers best Upton's across the board.
Gonzalez is hitting .348/.414/.696 on the road this season, proving he's not simply a product of his environment and playing at Coors Field.