The MLB All Star Game: It's Getting Pathetic (American League Version)
If there's one thing baseball fans should know, it's that the All Star Game doesn't accurately portray who the real "All Stars" are. On Sunday, July 5th, the All Star Game voting results were leaked, and the All Star starters and reserves were announced for both leagues.
Let's take a look at the American League squad. Who deserved a bid, but was snubbed? Who got an undeserving bid?
How did he not get in?
Nick Markakis, RF, Baltimore Orioles: I'll admit Markakis isn't having his best year. But is it All Star worthy? Absolutely. It's a disaster he hasn't made an All Star Game yet, as he has a .299 career average, .371 OBP, and plays a tremendous right field. This year, he's hitting .294 with eight homers, 54 RBI, a .351 OBP, 95 hits and 25 doubles.
However, it's not just at the plate where he proves his worth. Markakis seems to be among the league leaders in outfield assists every single year, and has eight this year, tied for the American League lead with Jason Bay and Shin Soo-Choo.
Markakis definitely deserved a bid this year, and it's an absolute tragedy he hasn't made an All Star Game yet.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Boston Red Sox: It's not often a Red Sox player gets snubbed, but Ellsbury did. He plays a fantastic center field, is hitting .302 with 35 stolen bases. The 25-year old was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2005 draft, and has certainly lived up to the organization's expectations so far.
In his first full year, in 2008, he took the league by storm, especially catchers, stealing 50 bases and getting caught 11 times. This year, he's got four homers, 26 RBI, 20 walks, 29 strikeouts, a .348 on base percentage, and he's a true snub.
Adam Lind, LF, Toronto Blue Jays: Going into the year, the Toronto Blue Jays expected a breakout season from outfielder Adam Lind. And they have gotten no less. In 80 games this year, he is hitting .309 with 17 homers and 55 RBI, a .384 OBP, and .937 OPS. Now, he has a chance to get in as the final man vote.
However, he should've breezed into the All Star Game, not as a starter, but as a reserve, and no less. On a low market team like Toronto, he may get very little notice, but he is carrying the ballclub offensively, along with second baseman Aaron Hill.
Shin Soo Choo, RF, Cleveland Indians: Last year, the Cleveland Indians got a fantastic second half from young outfielder Shin Soo Choo. It was impressive, to say the least. However, it'd be intriguing to see if he'd come back into 2009 and pick up where he left off. And so far, he has. In 292 at bats, he has 12 homers, 53 RBI, a .301 average, an impressive .407 OBP, and 28 extra base hits.
In a huge 15-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on July 3rd, he was 4-for-5, slugged two homers, drove in seven runs, and was a triple short of the cycle. So how does he not get in?
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers: This exclusion really disgusts me. Cabrera is having a phenomenal year. In 79 games, the powerful first baseman has 16 homers, 47 RBI, a .323 batting average, a .385 OBP, and 33 extra base hits. He was somehow left off the All Star team.
There's no doubt Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, and Justin Morneau were very deserving of All Star Game bids, but Cabrera is also. At 25, he's just entering the prime of his career, and he has certainly showed it so far in the 2009 MLB season.
Brandon Inge, UT, Detroit Tigers: Brandon Inge could fit in with just about any team. He's got great power, can play nearly every position, and can get on base consistently. At 32, he's not exactly entering the prime of his career, but is having the year of his life. In 275 at bats, he has 18 home runs, 52 RBI, a .363 on base percentage, and has 28 extra base hits.
He, like Lind, have a chance to get in as the last man on the American League squad, but this guy should breeze into the All Star Game. Probably not as a starter, but as a reserve - at least.
Juan Rivera, LF, Los Angeles Angels: Juan Rivera isn't your typical All Star. He's not very young, he hasn't consistently logged playing time throughout his career, and isn't flashy. He can't steal bases (9-of-26 in career), but statistically, Rivera deserves an All Star Game bid.
In 71 games, he has 14 home runs, 47 RBI, a mere 28 strikeouts, a .349 OBP, and a .518 slugging average. Rivera, surprisingly enough, is having one of the best years for any outfielder.
Russell Branyan, 1B, Seattle Mariners: At 33, Branyan, like many snubs on this list, isn't in the prime of his career. At least he shouldn't be. However, the power-hitting Mariners first baseman continues to crush the ball.
He isn't as productive RBI-wise as you may like (45 RBI), but that can be attributed to the fact that the M's team he plays on is weak offensively. So far this year, he has 20 homers, averaging one every 12.9 at bats, has a solid .388 OBP, 36 extra base hits, and has even played well defensively.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: It's an utter disgrace that Ian Kinsler's only chance to get into the All Star Game is as the last man. Early in the year, many were talking about Kinsler being an MVP candidate. Now, his chances are low that he even makes the All Star Game. Is Kinsler slumping? Absolutely.
After getting off to such a hot start, his average has dipped to .256 and his OBP stands at .333. However, saying that he's taken his name out of All Star consideration is absurd.
In 78 games, he has 19 homers, 51 RBI, 38 extra base hits, only nine fewer walks than strikeouts, and a .500 slugging average. Remember, this is a leadoff man we're talking about. This guy is an All Star.
How did he sneak in?
Tim Wakefield, P, Boston Red Sox: It seems every year, we get a surprising all star. This year, it's Tim Wakefield. At 42 years young, he's making the All Star Game for the first time.
However, does he truly deserve it? He's got a 10-3 record. He's tossed two complete games at the tender age of 42. However, he's got a 4.30 ERA, .259 opponent's batting average, and has allowed more hits than innings pitched. A 4.30 earned run average is no All Star.
It's respectable, sure, but the All Star Game is supposed to be about the best of the best.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers: This admission is absolutely absurd. Hamilton had a heroic year in 2008, coming back from drug addictions to have an MVP-type season, hitting .304 with 32 homers, 130 RBI, a .371 OBP, and .901 OPS. Did he have a fantastic year? Yes. But has he repeated it? No.
In 35 games thus far, he is hitting .240, has six homers, 24 RBI, and has battled injuries all year long. Not only is he in the All Star Game, he's penciled in as the starting center fielder, above players like Adam Jones, Curtis Granderson, and Ben Zobrist, who have all had fantastic years, infinitely better than Hamilton's 2009 season.
The All Star Game is clearly a popularity contest. But it's getting to the point where great years are getting ignored. Heck, just ask Nick Markakis, Adam Lind, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera, Brandon Inge, Juan Rivera, Russell Branyan, or Ian Kinsler. Baseball fans need to start voting correctly.
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