NL All-Star Voting Update: Will The Fans Get It Right?

Rob McFaddenCorrespondent IJune 8, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals waits for his hat and glove in between innings of their game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

J.J. Hardy?  That can't be right.  J.J. Hardy?  Is this thing broken?

When Major League Baseball released its first National League All-Star voting update two weeks ago, the first thing that jumped out at me was the 383,773 votes that Jason Kendall had received.  I laughed, I cried.  I wrote about it on Facebook.

I would have tweeted or twittered or whatever-ed about it, but I still don't understand the appeal of that site.

Kendall, he of the .211 batting average and 15 RBIs, was second to Yadier Molina among catchers and closing in on 400,000 votes.  I'm laughing and crying right now just remembering this.

But then!  Oh, boy.  Then!

J.J. Hardy?

I choked.  I wasn't even eating anything.

J.J. Hardy?

Hey, settle down, I told myself.  I haven't been keeping up with the Crew recently.  Maybe the kid is off to a great start and I've just been too busy ripping the word "Penguins" out of every book in my house (Go Flyers!).

And... No.  Nope, J.J. was sitting atop the shortstop vote, comfortably rocking 403,269 votes and a .234 average.  I figured there was no way that would last, and I was right!

Now the top vote-getter at shortstop is...

Jimmy Rollins?

People.  What is wrong with you?

All-Star Votes - Leaders - 6/8/09:

  • C Yadier Molina - Cardinals - 874,329
  • 1B Albert Pujols - Cardinals - 1,751,945
  • 2B Chase Utley - Phillies - 1,749,457
  • SS Jimmy Rollins - Phillies - 936,377
  • 3B David Wright - Mets - 994,855
  • OF Raul Ibanez - Phillies - 1,415,493
  • OF Ryan Braun - Brewers - 1,269,033
  • OF Carlos Beltran - Mets - 1,092,516

I could live with seven of these eight choices, but Jimmy Rollins is hitting .222. Frankly, I don't know if there's a shortstop out there who deserves to be in the all-star game less than he does.

And I'm not even sure I can blame Philadelphia fans for this one.  If everyone in Philly was just running down the ballot poking chads for the hometown guys, Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz (both excellent fielders who are hitting over .300) would have more than 600,000 votes.

Another thing to consider—doesn't the rest of the sports world always get on Phillies fans for being too tough on their own players?  Jimmy Rollins has been horrible since Day One at the plate this year.  Why would Philly fans, of all people, be voting for him?

I blame AL fans and their stupid DH.

All-Star Votes - Shortstops - As of 6/8/09:

  1. Jimmy Rollins - Phillies - 936,377
  2. Hanley Ramirez - Marlins - 871,917
  3. J.J. Hardy - Brewers - 662,474
  4. Jose Reyes - Mets - 526,591
  5. Miguel Tejada - Astros - 462,941
I was all set to praise baseball fans for their Hanley Ramirez votes, but now I'm just disgusted.  I don't even think I need to get into this.  
Rollins has a lower batting average than Chad Durbin.  Ramirez is the clear choice, hitting .332 and leading all NL shortstops in OBP, SLG and OPS.
He's the best shortstop on the league right now.  Vote him in, idiots.
Alright, now that my major beef is out of the way, we can get to my minor beefs... Sirloins, if you will.  Starting with Yadier Molina.

All-Star Votes - Catchers - As of 6/8/09:

  1. Yadier Molina - Cardinals - 874,329
  2. Brian McCann - Braves - 660,523
  3. Ivan Rodriguez - Astros - 625,389
  4. Jason Kendall - Brewers - 619,954
  5. Carlos Ruiz - Phillies - 599,167
It hasn't been a great year offensively for NL catchers, especially not when you take a peek at their compadres in the American League.  Is Joe Mauer really hitting .410?  
Knock it off, Joe!  You're a catcher!  Stop making contact and blow out a knee or something.  Jeez.
But that's not to say that there aren't quality backstops in the Senior Circuit. Example No. 1 being Molina, the baby of the "Amazing Catcher Brothers Trio Family."  
We really need a nickname for these guys.  Someone get on that already.  
Yadi's older brother Bengie was actually my dark horse early in the season and I threw a couple votes his way, but there's no question Yadier is the best of the clan and arguably the best in the league.  His numbers at the plate are average, sitting around .260 with 18 RBIs at last check, but his performance behind the plate remains excellent.  Molina has thrown out eight of 18 runners attempting to steal (.444) and brought his career pickoffs total up to 26.
The fact is people just don't run on him anymore.  Nobody in the majors has given up fewer stolen bases per inning this season.
So, where's the beef?
Molina is clearly an all-star, but I really think McCann should be the starter.  He's hitting over .300 on the season, and over .400 since he came off the DL with new glasses, a nasty zigzag haircut and that sleeveless leather jacket.  
Wait, I'm all mixed up.  He just has the new glasses.
Either way, despite having about 50 fewer at-bats than Molina, he has more homeruns and RBIs.  And he's no slouch behind the plate.
I understand the Yadi love.  I do.  But McCann, a career .298 hitter, is clearly the better offensive option.  My votes are going to Atlanta on this one.
Now head to Page 3 for the part where I don't vote for Ryan Braun.

All-Star Votes - Outfielders - As of 6/8/09:

  1. Raul Ibanez - Phillies - 1,415,493
  2. Ryan Braun - Brewers - 1,269,033
  3. Carlos Beltran - Mets - 1,092,516
  4. Alfonso Soriano - Cubs - 1,078,904
  5. Manny Ramirez - Dodgers - 858,353
If you are a Phillies fan, or have been fortunate enough to have the World Champs visit your place of losing to us recently, you've probably heard this sound:
That, my friends, is the sound of the best free-agent signing the Phillies have made since that classy beast of a man named Jim Thome made a pit stop in Philly on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Music to my ears.  That's what that sound is.
Anyway.  Moving on.  
Clearly I've been wearing out my mouse voting for Ibanez.  And I quickly settled on Beltran as my No. 2.  But when it comes to that third outfield spot...  Not an easy decision.  That's probably why Manny "The Infertile" Ramirez is still fifth in the voting.  People just aren't sure who to vote for.
As it stands now, I'd say an alphabetized list of the top six contenders should look something like this: Ryan Braun, Brad Hawpe, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre, Justin Upton.
Braun - .310 BA / .412 OBP / 12 HR / 38 RBI
Hawpe - .339 BA / .415 OBP / 8 HR / 42 RBI
Lee - .321 BA / .374 OBP / 10 HR / 38 RBI
Pierre - .360 BA / .421 OBP / 0 HR / 21 RBI
Pence - .342 BA / .419 OBP / 7 HR / 25 RBI
Upton - .320 BA / .393 OBP / 11 HR / 34 RBI
I won't make you wait.  I have to go with Upton.
Surprised?  For those of you who prefer Brad Hawpe, I have a problem with a guy who hits 160 points higher at home than on the road.  Especially when home is in Colorado.
And for those of you voting for Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence or Carlos Lee, do me a favor and take a look at Arizona's lineup.  Do you even know who hits behind Upton? Here, let me just save you the trouble.  This was Arizona's lineup on Saturday:
2B Felipe Lopez
3B Ryan Roberts
RF Justin Upton
SS Stephen Drew
1B Mark Reynolds
CF Chris Young
LF Eric Byrnes
C Chris Snyder
I'm pretty sure your average Independent League pitcher wouldn't be intimidated by these guys.  Felipe Lopez leading off? The guy has a career OBP of .330!  Stephen Drew batting cleanup?  I think Adrian Gonzalez hit more home runs yesterday than Drew has hit in his career.
And I don't even know who Ryan Roberts is.  Seriously.
My point here is that despite the Diamondbacks having the third-worst batting average in the majors, Upton has still managed to put up big numbers.  All-Star numbers.  The guy can hit and he was named the May NL Player of the Month for a reason.
I do like both Lee and Pence and I'd put both of them in St. Louis.  But they get to pal around with Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Ivan Rodriguez.  
Same deal with Pierre, a career .300 hitter.  He gets to lead off the highest scoring lineup in the NL with the second-best team average in the majors.
Meanwhile, Upton is pretty much flying solo.  He has my vote.
Oh, and for those of you still voting for Braun...  I'll have no problem if he makes the squad as a reserve, but there are just too many guys that deserve to start more than he does.  See above for details.  Plus I can't take any Brewers seriously at this point.  Jason Kendall?
Now on to Page 4 for the part where I feel sorry for Ryan Zimmerman.

All-Star Votes - Third Basemen - As of 6/8/09:

  1. David Wright - Mets - 994,855
  2. Ryan Zimmerman - Nationals - 747,380
  3. Chipper Jones - Braves - 640,598
  4. Pedro Feliz - Phillies - 598,563
  5. Bill Hall - Brewers - 551,202
I live in northern Delaware.  As part of our cable package, we get MASN, official network of the Orioles and Nationals.  So whenever I feel the urge to watch some terrible baseball, BAM, it's right there in high definition.
Because, let's be honest, the Nationals play terrible baseball. They can score some runs, but their pitching is bad and their defense is flat-out Little League.  
Sometimes I feel genuinely embarrassed for them.  Even their broadcasters are terrible.
Actually, I suppose that's the one thing Ryan Zimmerman has going for him—he doesn't have to listen to Rob Dibble on TV.
Ryan Zimmerman.  One of the most underrated players in the game.  Reminds me of Scott Rolen, a big guy who can field the hot corner with the best of them. Solid hitter who is still developing.  
Buried in Washington.  I genuinely feel sorry for him.  So sorry that even though David Wright deserves every vote, I want Zim in the NL starting lineup.
Wright - .345 BA / .448 OBP / 3 HR / 34 RBI / 14 SB
Zimmerman - .320 BA / .393 OBP / 11 HR / 39 RBI / 0 SB
Unfortunately, it looks like the only way that will happen is if Wright hits a major slump or gets hurt.  You just can't argue with .345 and 34 RBI, and no self-respecting New Yorker is going to lose a fan vote to someone from D.C.
But keep your head up, Zim!  I'm voting for you anyway.  Punch Dibble for me next time you see him.
Well, that's pretty much it for now.  Tune in later this month when I'll break down how I think the NL roster will look and how I think it should look.  Until then, tell me who you are voting for and which episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is your favorite.


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