American League All Stars: Who Should Start
The votes are coming fast and furious.
It’s the annual debate of who should be a starter in the All Game versus those who are being voted by you, the fans.
Yes, it’s that time where Major Leaguers who shouldn’t be selected by the fans are.
People like Manny Ramirez, who was a leading candidate in the outfield for the National League after being suspended 50 games for PED's. Then once the outrage began, he mysteriously fell to sixth.
Or the injured Josh Hamilton.
Today we will take a look at the American League voting.
Do the fans have it right? Let’s take a look.
Leading the Vote: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (.395, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 1.163 OPS)
Should Be the Starter: Mauer
A Case Could Be Made For: No one
Do the Minnesota Twins look like geniuses when they drafted Joe Mauer No. 1 over Mark Prior?
Mauer is the best catcher in baseball. This season, he leads all American League catchers in average, home runs, RBI, hits, runs, and OPS.
Yet, Mauer missed the first month of the season recovering from a back injury.
Mauer is a free agent after this season. You wonder why a team like the Yankees or Red Sox haven’t made a move to get younger at catcher?
That will be the best bidding war ever.
First Base—Justin Morneau
Leading the Vote: Mark Texeiria, New York Yankees (.280, 20 HR, 57 RBI, .968 OPS)
Should Be the Starter: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (.315-16-58, .956 OPS)
A Case Could Be Made For: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.335-15-46, .961 OPS)
Okay, flip a coin on this one. The numbers are unbelievably similar.
One leads the other in batting average (Morneau hitting .315 vs. Teixeira’s .280). The other leads in home runs (Teixeira has 20 vs. Morneau’s 16). Morneau has one more RBI than ‘Tex’ (58 vs. 57).
Morneau has a better OBP, yet Teixeira has slugged a few points higher than Morneau.
Both are solid defensively this season.
A case could be made for Miggy Cabrera to start. He has picked up the slack from Magglio Ordonez, who is mired in a horrible power outage.
Cabrera has hit well but with the lack of offense behind him and his power numbers are not as solid as Teixeira and Morneau.
But, Cabrera has led his Detroit Tigers to a first-place lead over Morneau’s Twins.
Second Base—Aaron Hill
Leading the Vote: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers (.268, 18 HR, 49 RBI, .875 OPS)
Should Be The Starter: Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (.306-17-52, .843 OPS)
A Case Could Be Made For: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (.301-12-42, .823 OPS)
Second base has become the new shortstop. It seems this is the loaded position in the American League with the likes of Hill, Kinsler, Cano, 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia, and Brian Roberts.
Aaron Hill has finally lived up to expectations. He is off to a tremendous start of the season and a good reason (outside of Roy Halladay) why the Blue Jays remain in contention in the American League East and the Wild Card.
His numbers have been outstanding. His glove has been exceptional too.
It’s not that Ian Kinsler hasn’t been terrific either, helping the Rangers into first place in the West. His average is a deterrent, far below his .286 career batting average, compared to Hill’s .306 batting average.
Cano has rebounded from a miserable 2008 season where he hit .271 and only 14 homers. Cano has been a cog in the bottom of the Yankees lineup and is reaping the benefits of Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in front of him.
Third Base—Evan Longoria
Leading the Vote: Evan Longoria, Tampa bay Rays (.309, 16 HR, 61 RBI, .980 OPS)
Should Be The Starter: Longoria
A Case Can Be Made For: Not a single soul
Evan Longoria is the most dominant player in his position.
Only Joe Mauer is as dominant at his position as Longoria
You could say he’s the best player in the American League. You’ll get debated (Jason Bay), but he presents a riveting case.
Only Brandon Inge (17) has hit more homers than Longoria at third base. His 61 RBI far exceeds Mark DeRosa’s 50 by a third baseman.
Longoria’s OPS of .980 leads Inge by nearly 100 points.
Leading the Vote: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (.3089HR 30RBI .828 OPS)
Should Be The Starter: Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays (.371-7-35 .983 OPS)
A Case Could Be Made For: Marco Scutaro, Toronto Blue Jays (.294-6-31 .825 OPS)
Derek Jeter has played a fine season so far. But no disrespect for him, Bartlett has been phenomenal for the Rays.
What a steal of a trade Tampa got from the Twins, when they sent Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Bartlett.
Bartlett doesn’t qualify, yet, in batting but when’s he’s in the line-up for Tampa, he’s been an on-base machine (.409 OBP). His OPS is also off the charts at .983 and leads all shortstops by well over 100 points as well as his 35 RBI.
Jeter leads all qualified shortstops in the A.L. with 88 hits, 17 stolen bases and a .308 batting average.
Scutaro has been a nice pick up for Toronto. He’s leading all A.L. shortstops in runs, doubles and walks.
Leading the Vote: Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox (.282, 19 HR, 69 RBI, .971 OPS)
Let’s just say it right now: Jason Bay is the leading MVP candidate for the American League.
Bay is third in the American League in home runs, behind Teixeria and Carlos Pena
He currently leads the American League in RBI, eight ahead of Longoria.
But most of all, he has made Boston fans forget about Manny Ramirez. Bay has done nothing short of carrying the Sox on his back to first place with a four-game lead over the Yankees.
Leading the Vote: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (.369-6-18 .901 OPS)
Suzuki leads the AL in batting average by 34 points and hits with 104, all the while playing for a lousy Seattle team that has no hope.
Once again, Suzuki dominates the American League in hitting. He's not known for his power, but his on-base percentage is what makes him run with a .401.
Ichiro also has an astounding .901 OPS.
Leading the Vote: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (.240-6-24 .746 OPS)
Should Be The Starters: Bay, Suzuki, Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels (.310-16-54 .973 OPS)
A Case Could Be Made For: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays (.294-16-44 1.045 OPS), Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers (.261-17-42 .825 OPS), Johnny Damon, New York Yankees (.293-14-45 .904 OPS), Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (.313-6-34 .819 OPS), Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (.302-12-43 .863 OPS)
Josh Hamilton has been battling injuries this season and is a perfect reason why sometimes the voting is so skewed.
Torii Hunter deserves the starting nod. He has carried a very inept Angels offense while Vladimir Guerrero and Bobby Abreu find their power. How can you argue Hunter's power numbers while hitting for average? Again, he’s another Gold Glove waiting-to-happen.
Ben Zobrist has been outstanding for the Rays. He has been a pleasant surprise, helping the Rays stay adrift in the AL East while Tampa tries to figure out what’s up with their starting pitching.
His outfield counterpart, Crawford, is hitting well over .300 and nearing 50 stolen bases already.
Granderson has been a catalyst for the Tigers.
Damon is taking advantage of the wiffleball park in New York.
And Adam Jones is making Seattle think, "Whoops," with the Eric Bedard trade.