2013 MLB All-Star Game: Grading the Fan Vote in the National League so Far
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Fans of Major League Baseball have been granted quite the burden the last few years. For decades the All-Star game was nothing more than an exhibition, a chance for the fans to see their favorite players compete in a spectacle of excellence.
Unlike the NBA All-Star Game or the NFL Pro Bowl, baseball has decided to make this game “count.” With the winning league now receiving home-field advantage, the pressure on the fans to pick the right crop of players to represent their respective league has intensified.
Like it or not, the All-Star Game has become far more than just a popularity contest; discretion must be put at a premium.
With that in mind, lets take a look at the front-runners in the National League so far, selected of course by the fans, and break down where they’ve shown wise judgment and where the popularity of a player has created a divide between logic and fandom.
Players I believe should be representing the NL will be represented in the headlines.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and are accurate through the start of play on Wednesday, June 12
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Fan Vote: Buster Posey
In perhaps the most difficult of all the picks, the fans have come through with the correct choice. Not only is Buster Posey leading Yadier Molina in the voting for the catcher position, he is the front-runner in the entire NL.
The case for Molina is a compelling one. While he currently sits at second in the NL in batting average at .351, his lack of power—just four home runs and 32 RBI—trails Posey’s current production of eight home runs and 35 RBI.
While it’s true that Molina has separated himself from the pack in terms of defense and controlling a pitching staff, when it comes to the All-Star Game those intangibles are just not as much of a premium in a one-game scenario.
Posey has proven himself on the grandest of stages to come up big when it matters. With the significance that this game entails, expect him to once again rise to the occasion.
His combination of consistent production and past pedigree narrowly edges the intangibles Molina brings to the table.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Fan Vote: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
This is more of a “what have you done for me lately” pick. In terms of pure production, nobody has offered more than Goldschmidt in the NL.
While Votto has done nothing to lose his spot in the starting lineup—batting .328 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI—Goldschmidt has simply been better. He has outpaced Votto in all of the major counting stats to this point.
Sporting a line of .313, 15 home runs and 59 RBI, the rationale behind not voting him in is puzzling to say the least. While he will no doubt get in by either the player or manager vote, a spot in the starting lineup is one that should clearly go to Goldschmidt.
Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
Fan Vote: Brandon Phillips
This was an easy one that the fans indeed got right. In terms of overall production, no other second baseman has provided anything close to what Phillips has given the Reds.
While Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals and Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants currently sport higher batting averages, Phillips has delivered the power punch that the other two are simply not capable of.
His 10 home runs and 52 RBI, coupled with his very good .292 batting average, make this a landslide victory. Expect him to retain his spot atop the second base pecking order and represent the NL in the All-Star Game.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
Fan Vote: Pablo Sandoval
What on earth happened to the third base position in the NL? A spot that has delivered numerous quality candidates in the past is simply bare at this point. This season, it has become a matter of picking the best of the worst when choosing the worthy representative.
We’ll go with the fans and slot Sandoval here, although his recent trip to the D.L. might open the door for another unworthy candidate to replace him.
Currently leading all NL third basemen in batting average at .289 and also contributing eight home runs and 37 RBI, he has the slight edge over the downward-spiraling David Wright at the moment.
Whoever does emerge on top, however, will clearly be the weak link of the lineup.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Fan Vote: Troy Tolowitzki
While shortstop has been seen for a long time as a defense-first position, Tulowitzki has upped the ante considerably. His counting stats to this point are otherworldly, posting a .353 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 51 RBI.
We’ve often wondered what he is capable of should he manage to stay healthy for a full season. If this is any indication of it, good luck to any pitchers in his way the rest of the season. Tulowitzki will take his rightful spot in the middle of the infield.
Outfield: Carlos Gomez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez
Fan Vote: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves; Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
All you expecting mothers out there, if you name your son Carlos, he might have a chance to start an All-Star Game one day.
Upton and Harper rode incredibly hot starts to the season to early edges in the popularity contest among fans. Upton, however, has cooled off significantly, and Harper has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries.
Beltran and Gonzalez have continued to provide consistent production, both ranking in the top 10 in home runs, batting average and RBI. We have come to expect this out of them. Gomez, however, has been a revelation this season.
A career .255 hitter, Gomez has upped his batting average to .316 this season while also chipping in 11 home runs and 33 RBI. While he’s not as a big a name as Upton or Harper, he is indeed having a far superior year than either of them.
If the most deserving players somehow do find a way to crack the starting lineup, expect to see the name Carlos often when the starting lineup is announced.
Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, I see the record; 5-4 doesn’t exactly strike me as All-Star Game starter material either. But if the NL wants to put its best pitcher out there to start the game, the conversation begins and ends with Kershaw.
Ranking near the top of every pitching statistic, including ERA and strikeouts where he is first, Kershaw has been the victim of circumstance this season. His record should have no correlation to whether or not he is named the starter.
While there are many other pitchers having sensational seasons, Kershaw has cemented himself over the years as the cream of the crop.
What do you think? Whether you agree or disagree with these selections, sound off in the comment section below!