Top 5 Biggest MLB All-Star Snubs If Voting Ended Now
The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is rapidly approaching, and fans have already filled out millions of ballots.
Ever since fan voting was readopted and implemented for good in Major League Baseball, an annual dilemma arises: Should fans vote for the best players, the most popular and exciting players or the players of their hometown team? When the MLB decided that the winner of the game would gain home-field advantage in the World Series, the dilemma was further complicated.
Regardless of the methodology that fans use in selecting their 17 All-Stars, snubs are a staple of every All-Star Game.
Voting is open until July 3 at 11:59 p.m. ET. If voting were to end now, truly deserving players would potentially not be starting or even be left off of the team entirely.
Here are the top five snubs of this year’s All-Star Game if voting ended today.
Statistics are accurate through June 10 and are obtained from MLB.com, ESPN.com and Baseball-Reference.com.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins (fourth among AL second basemen, and 623,356 votes behind first place Robinson Cano)
Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox (second among AL shortstops, and 163,692 votes behind first place Derek Jeter)
Victor Martinez, DH, Detroit Tigers (third among AL designated hitters, and 561,060 votes behind first place Nelson Cruz)
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians (seventh among AL outfielders, and 375,823 votes behind third place Melky Cabrera)
Brandon Moss, 1B, Oakland A's (fifth among AL designated hitters, and 923,678 votes behind first place Nelson Cruz)
No. 5: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Even after Jose Abreu’s monster 2010 season in Cuba, in which the slugger hit .453 with 93 RBI and 33 home runs in only 66 games, many still questioned if his talent would translate into MLB success (James Krueger of SI.com concurs here).
Sixty-six games into the 2014 MLB season and Abreu has left little to question.
Despite missing two weeks with an ankle injury, the 27-year-old ranks third in home runs (18), third in slugging percentage (.610) and seventh in RBI (49). Since returning from the disabled list, Abreu has hit three home runs in seven games.
Abreu, however, may be fighting a losing battle.
Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who is coming off back-to-back 44 home run seasons and is arguably the best hitter on the planet, currently holds a firm lead over Abreu in All-Star voting.
Though Abreu rivals Cabrera in home run and RBI categories, Cabrera’s robust .329 batting average is what separates the two. With Cabrera unlikely to relinquish his spot as the top first baseman in the American League this year or in coming years, Abreu may be left off the ballot or relegated to the bench in the short term.
Regardless, Abreu has cemented himself as the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award and will certainly be entrenched in the middle of the AL lineup later in his big league career.
No. 4: Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Toronto Blue Jays
The ranking of Blue Jays’ designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion on this list by no means reflects his ranking as an overall player. After all, with 16 home runs in the month of May, one would have to venture all the way back to the days of Mickey Mantle to find another player who could match Encarnacion’s recent explosion at the plate.
Encarnacion, however, is not currently in the starting lineup for the AL All-Star team—perhaps due to the extreme amount of talent vying for the one designated hitter spot. In fact, the top five current vote-getters all rank inside the top 11 home run leaders, with Nelson Cruz and Encarnacion each occupying the top two spots.
Encarnacion will most likely be selected as a reserve for the All-Star team by AL manager (and Boston Red Sox manager) John Farrell, yet he must be considered a snub for not receiving a starting spot.
Nelson Cruz has hit one more home run, and his .300 batting average is 38 points better than that of Encarnacion. Cruz is the right pick, but it is still tough to fathom Encarnacion’s 20 home runs sitting on the bench.
No. 3: Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
The current third base situation in the National League All-Star voting is a perfect illustration of the dominance of big names.
Nolan Arenado was having the best season of any NL third baseman, as his 28-game hitting streak boosted his batting average to .305. However, a broken finger has sidelined Arenado for nearly three weeks, and he has since fallen out of the All-Star voting lead.
David Wright is currently in first place, and recently rejuvenated Pablo Sandoval has catapulted himself into third place. Brewers’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Dodgers’ third baseman Juan Uribe round out the top five.
The lesser-known Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier, however, is having a better 2014 campaign than any of these players.
Though not in the top five in the All-Star Game voting, Frazier is top among NL third baseman with 13 home runs, a .504 slugging percentage and six stolen bases. Pablo Sandoval is 20 points behind Frazier in batting average. Both Aramis Ramirez and Juan Uribe have been hurt for much of the year, causing them each to have more than 70 fewer at-bats than Frazier.
David Wright continues to have a productive season, but his numbers do not compare to Frazier's. The 28-year-old from Cincinnati trumps him by eight runs, 130 points in slugging percentage and 141 points in OPS.
Johnny Cueto may be the most obvious All-Star on the Reds. However, Todd Frazier continues to be the one-man pulse of an anemic Reds offense. Thus, he is equally as deserving.
No. 2: Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy is undoubtedly the most underrated player in baseball.
From his catching and framing prowess, documented by Brian Kenny on MLB Network’s MLB Now, to his scorching hot bat, the Brewers catcher has done everything to deserve a starting spot on the NL All-Star team.
Fans continue to roll with the big names of Yadier Molina and Buster Posey, which has left Lucroy 850,631 votes behind first place Molina and 306,694 votes behind second place Posey.
Granted, neither Molina nor Posey is having subpar seasons. Molina is batting .290 with five home runs, and Posey is batting .271 with eight home runs—numbers that normally would result in a starting spot behind the plate.
Lucroy has had such a stellar season that his numbers could be confused with those of a top-tier position player, rather than those of a catcher, however. Lucroy ranks first among catchers and third in the entire league (only behind Troy Tulowitzki and Yasiel Puig) in both average (.335) and doubles with (23). Lucroy also leads all catchers with 28 runs, a .399 on base percentage and a .498 slugging percentage.
A breakout season was imminent for Lucroy, as he set career-highs in home runs (18) and RBI (82) in 2013. He remains one of the hidden gems of baseball, since Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun steal much of the attention in Milwaukee. But all it would take for such national attention would be an opportunity to start and produce in the All-Star Game.
No. 1: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt is currently 104,880 votes behind Adrian Gonzalez in the race for the NL starting first baseman.
Quite frankly, that is ridiculous.
Though the lead that Gonzalez possesses over Goldschmidt is the third smallest margin of any of the position battles in the National League, one glimpse at their stats, and it is clear that it should not even be a race.
Goldschmidt’s batting average stands at .309; Gonzalez’s is .250. Goldschmidt has notched an NL-leading (among first baseman) 48 RBI; Gonzalez has 39. Goldschmidt’s on-base percentage is a lofty .374; Gonzalez’s is .327. Lastly, Goldschmidt averages 2.4 wins above a replacement, while Gonzalez averages 0.9.
One cannot argue that Dodgers’ fans have been stuffing the ballots for Gonzalez, as his 888,906 votes are second-to-last among NL position leaders.
A better explanation is the atrocious 9-20 start for the Diamondbacks that led to a decline in attendance. The lack of fan support for the Diamondbacks certainly does not bode well for Goldschmidt’s pursuit of an All-Star Game nod.
Miguel Cabrera certainly is the best first baseman in the big leagues. Yet Paul Goldschmidt comes closer than anyone else in challenging Cabrera for that title. Goldschmidt will appear in the All-Star game. But for the sake of ensuring that the best first baseman in the National League and the second best first baseman in all of baseball receives a starting spot, Paul Goldschmidt should supersede Adrian Gonzalez in All-Star Game votes immediately.
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