With the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game now just a month away, crunch time for the voting has arrived.
And thanks to the latest batch of updates, now we know where the voting stands going into said crunch time.
After providing a fourth update for the National League voting, MLB has provided the fourth update for the American League voting on Monday. With polls closing on July 3 before the game is played on July 15 at Target Field, there are only a couple of more updates due after these before the starters—barring injury, of course—become set in stone.
For now, we have our cue to once again take stock of the major takeaways from the voting.
The American League voting is still largely the Jose Bautista Show, but this week has seen two other players cross the two million vote plateau in Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout and Detroit Tigers two-time defending AL MVP Miguel Cabrera:
And now for a slightly closer look at the leading vote-getters at each position:
|C||Matt Wieters||Brian McCann||Derek Norris|
|1B||Miguel Cabrera||Jose Abreu||Albert Pujols|
|2B||Robinson Cano||Ian Kinsler||Dustin Pedroia|
|3B||Josh Donaldson||Adrian Beltre||Evan Longoria|
|SS||Derek Jeter||Alexei Ramirez||J.J. Hardy|
|OF||Jose Bautista||Yoenis Cespedes||Michael Brantley|
|OF||Mike Trout||Adam Jones||Carlos Beltran|
|OF||Melky Cabrera||Jacoby Ellsbury||Torii Hunter|
|DH||Nelson Cruz||David Ortiz||Victor Martinez|
Biggest AL All-Star Voting Takeaways
1. Still No Change Among Projected Starters
As we'll discuss later on, there are two new players in line for starting gigs in the National League voting this week. Things are awfully interesting on that side of the fence.
In the AL, however, things are getting boring. Just as there were no changes to the projected starters last week, it's the same old story this week. It would seem that American League fans have settled on the guys they want to see and, well, those are the guys they want to see.
On a related note...
2. Alexei Ramirez Probably Won't Catch Derek Jeter After All
This time last week, New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter led Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez in the AL shortstop voting by a little over 160,000 votes. Hardly an insurmountable lead, that.
But then Jeter's lead spread to around 250,000 votes, which we can probably attribute to three things:
- He's still Derek Jeter.
- This is still his last season.
- He's actually been hitting well lately, batting at .435 over his last six games.
I'm actually fine with Jeter starting for the AL on the first two merits, but here's hoping he can keep up the third. It would be a little (read: a lot) less awkward.
3. People Really Like Jose Bautista
Some things just catch your eye. For example, it's hard not to notice that Bautista went from an already AL-high 2,135,223 to up over 2.9 million votes this week. The Toronto Blue Jays slugger is now the closest player in either league to three million votes, and it's not particularly close.
There's no question that Bautista is a deserving All-Star with a .314 average and .981 OPS. But in an age where Miggy vs. Trout is a thing and Jeter's last season is an even bigger thing, color me fascinated that Bautista is the one guy fans want to see more than any other.
4. But Suddenly, People Also Really Like Yoenis Cespedes
Last week, Oakland A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes was sixth in the AL outfield voting and looking up at Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Now Cespedes is looking down on the two of them, the result of a 312,490-vote surge. He's making a run at Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera and that final outfield spot.
I'm going to take a wild guess and say Cespedes' surge might have something to do with this:
5. The Catcher Voting Needs Fixing
As much as everyone wants to see Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann in Minnesota, it's time to face facts. Wieters hasn't played since May 10 and is now out for the year with Tommy John surgery, and McCann is stinking up the joint with a .634 OPS.
You want an All-Star catcher to vote for? Try sending more votes Oakland A's catcher Derek Norris' way to reward him for his .911 OPS. Or maybe to Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who has a .771 OPS to go with excellent defense.
Come on. You know you want to. It's the right thing to do.
There's no change at the top in the Senior Circuit, as Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still the leading vote-getter with over 2.5 million votes. One difference this week, however, is that he has company in the Two Million Votes Club in St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
Here's a closer look at the top three vote-getters at each position.
|C||Yadier Molina||Buster Posey||Jonathan Lucroy|
|1B||Paul Goldschmidt||Adrian Gonzalez||Freddie Freeman|
|2B||Chase Utley||Neil Walker||Dee Gordon|
|3B||David Wright||Pablo Sandoval||Nolan Arenado|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki||Brandon Crawford||Jean Segura|
|OF||Yasiel Puig||Carlos Gomez||Angel Pagan|
|OF||Andrew McCutchen||Ryan Braun||Mike Morse|
|OF||Giancarlo Stanton||Charlie Blackmon||Justin Upton|
Biggest NL All-Star Voting Takeaways
1. Paul Goldschmidt Is Where He Belongs
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was still in line to start for the National League at first base in Minnesota this time last week, as he led Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt by over 100,000 votes.
So much for that. Thanks to a roughly 500,000-vote surge, Goldschmidt has taken over the first base lead. And rightfully so, as he's been on fire with a 1.017 OPS over his last 43 games and (via FanGraphs) now leads qualified NL first basemen in average, slugging, OPS, homers and RBI.
Yup. Sounds like an All-Star starter to me.
2. Hard to Argue with That Outfield
The other big change this week was in the NL's outfield, where Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder and reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen leapfrogged Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez for the third and final starting spot.
It's now hard to argue with the NL's projected outfield. McCutchen and Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton are the two best outfielders in the NL in terms of WAR, and Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig has the second-highest average and third-highest OPS among NL outfielders.
This is to say nothing of the entertainment value of the three. The thought of McCutchen's awesomeness combined with Stanton's power and Puig's, um, Puig-ness should give us all happy faces.
3. ...But Don't Count Out Carlos Gomez
Gomez may have been leapfrogged by McCutchen in the voting, but it wasn't because people stopped voting for him. While McCutchen gained nearly 540,000 votes in the last week, Gomez gained over 430,000 votes of his own.
And the votes should keep coming. While he hasn't been as scorching hot as McCutchen—oh, you know, just a 1.440 OPS in June—Gomez does have a .350 average and .962 OPS in his last 30 games. If he keeps it up, maybe he'll be able to catch Stanton and/or McCutchen to get back in line for a starting gig.
4. The NL's Best Third Baseman Still Isn't Getting Any Love
The race for the NL's starting third base gig is the NL's biggest example of how All-Star voting is largely a popularity contest. New York Mets fan favorite David Wright is leading, but he's not having a great year. Neither is Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez or Matt Carpenter, and Nolan Arenado is hurt.
Meanwhile, there's Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier leading NL third basemen in OPS, homers and WAR while ranking second in RBI. He may not be popular, but he's certainly the best third baseman NL fans can vote for.
5. Neither Is One of the NL's Best First Basemen
There's one NL first baseman who can claim to be on Paul Goldschmidt's level this year, and his name isn't Adrian Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman, Justin Morneau or Brandon Belt.
It's Anthony Rizzo. The Chicago Cubs first-sacker has a .406 on-base percentage, a .509 slugging percentage and 14 home runs. Add in his quietly excellent defense at first base, and it's no wonder FanGraphs has him tied with Goldschmidt in WAR.
I wouldn't pick Rizzo over Goldschmidt to start. But at the least, he deserves to be in the top five.
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.
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