Here's my attempt to be objective in casting my ballot for the 2008 MLB All-Star Game. I always like to wait until the last minute to get all the information and numbers out there - voting ends Wednesday night, which you can do at mlb.com.
C - Joe Mauer, Twins
Being objective means not giving more weight to Yankees or Red Sox, or to naming names...though at catcher in the AL, Mauer's probably as close to a name guy as you've got.
Despite losing Johan and Hunter, the Twins are in the thick of things at 45-38, and Mauer's a big part of their success once more. His .323 average and 34 RBIs lead AL catchers.
1B - Justin Morneau, Twins
It's a tighter argument here, but again, Minny gets some love. This argument, for me, really comes down to Morneau and Boston's Kevin Youkilis. Youk might have slightly higher numbers, but in a question of "who's more important to their team?", I think Morneau deserves this spot.
2B - Ian Kinsler, Rangers
No contest here, Kinsler's having a sensational season and has helped Texas stay above .500. He's hitting .321 with 13 homers, 50 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases, for far and away the best line for any AL second baseman.
3B - Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
You can not like it, and I don't, but there continues to be no denying that A-Rod is simply one of the, if not the, best and most productive offensive players in baseball. This year, he's .322, 16 and 44 and not giving disgruntled Yankee fans many reasons to complain about him.
SS - Michael Young, Rangers
The hits just keep on coming for the mid-market teams. While it's been a poor hitting year for AL shortstops - Young leads the league at only .285 - he joins Kinsler, Mauer, and Morneau as the guys who are doing their part to keep their surprising teams more than in the thick of it at the break.
OF - Milton Bradley, Rangers
OF - Jermaine Dye, White Sox
OF - Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Does Texas have the best offense in baseball? You can't deny Hamilton, whose 80 RBIs are almost 20 more than the closest competitor.
But Bradley's just as good as anybody else among the competition too, with a .318 average that leads AL outfielders to go with 16 homers and 49 RBIs.
And Dye (.305, 18, 50) is another one of these good stories on a surprisingly good team. Maybe not what you thought, but definitely all three are deserving (though we'll hear arguments for Magglio Ordonez and JD Drew, as well as Grady Sizemore and of course, Ichiro).
DH - Aubrey Huff, Orioles
No Red Sox (or Rays?) make the ballot? If you like average, you go with Matsui and the Yankees here. If you like power - which to me, is where the scales tip in the designated hitter argument - you go with Huff.
While Matsui hits around sixty points higher, Huff has twice as many home runs (14 to 7) and a dozen more RBIs. And yes, the Orioles too are over .500.
C - Brian McCann, Braves
Yeah, yeah, but really, the numbers don't lie. Among NL catchers, McCann is third in average (.295), first in home runs (14) and third in RBIs (45). There are other catchers who excel more in one particular area (Soto, Molina, and Martin), but McCann is the best total package.
1B - Lance Berkman, Astros
Here's something you weren't expecting - Albert Pujols is hitting .357, with 17 homers and 47 RBIs...and TRAILS Berkman in every single category (can you say "DH", Mr. Pujols?). Berkman leads NL first basemen in all three of those categories (.365, 22, 68)...plus has 12 stolen bases and a career revival on his hands.
2B - Chase Utley, Phillies
Continuing to join the revolution with guys who are redefining the position from the offensive end, this year Utley surpasses Dan Uggla to claim the second base spot on my ballot. Utley is at .297, with 23 homers and 65 RBIs, and the Phillies are in first place in the NL East.
3B - Chipper Jones, Braves
Uh, yeah, Chipper's hitting .395. He wins.
SS - Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
The stars come out in the NL shortstop race, between Jimmy Rollins (having a down year), Jose Reyes (28 stolen bases), Miguel Tejada (43 RBIs), and the hot hitting Rafael Furcal (.366).
But again, in the total package department, Ramirez takes the cake - .296 with 19 homers, 36 RBIs and 20 stolen bases for the second place Florida Marlins.
OF - Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF - Matt Holliday, Rockies
OF - Carlos Lee, Astros
While the Rockies may be the worst team in the NL, Holliday leads NL outfielders with a .332 average, 17 points higher than the closest competitor, so he gets a spot. Braun is atop the leaderboard in homers with 20, and Lee in RBIs at 62.
So, in such a crowded field, we just went with the three guys atop the major stat leaderboards. I hear you yelling, "No Red Sox AND no Cubbies?!"
I hear you...and yeah, you could've gone with Soriano here, or Ludwick or Beltran for that matter, but objectively I feel these three are the most deserving.