For the Love of Rod: Send Barajas, New York Mets, To the 2010 MLB All-Star Game
The first round of National League All-Star votes have been counted, and as can be expected, it’s slim pickings for the Amazins.
David Wright is already 73,000 votes behind current third base leader Placido Polanco in one of the closest-fought All-Star battles, and Jose Reyes will need something resembling a miracle if he is to catch Jimmy Rollins or Hanley Ramirez for the starting shortstop gig.
Batting at the top of the order might give Reyes some momentum, especially with Rollins back on the DL, but don’t expect to see him finish any higher than third at best. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve to even be that high.
Wright has been so-so, but voters may take one look at his high strikeout totals and choose he isn't worthy this time around. It's a shame because his overall production—strikeouts aside—has been good.
In the outfield, Jason Bay is the only Met inside the top 15 and, with 191,000 votes, is still 150,000 votes away from third-place Shane Victorino. Bay has only just started to heat up, so I think that’s about right based on what we’ve see so far. With some big names ahead of him on the list, don’t expect him to many too many inroads towards the top five.
While I personally have doubts about Polanco starting at third base, my biggest beef with this is the apparent exclusion of Rod Barajas.
Sure, he’s not a household “star” name, but he has arguably been the Mets most effective player so far this season.
His 10 home runs lead all catchers in the Majors, and his 24 RBI ranks second in the National League.
Yadier Molina leads the voting so far with more than 316,000 votes, followed by Carlos Ruiz, Pudge Rodriguez, Brian McCann, and Russell Martin.
Seriously, voters? I’m not saying Barajas should be an automatic number No. 1, but it’s crazy not to see him in the top five.
Let’s work from the bottom up on this one. Unless you’re selecting Martin for his walks, he has no place on this list. He has just nine extra-base hits this season, and his high number of runs scored was a result of being moved to the front of the lineup following Rafael Furcal’s trip to the DL and batting in front of Triple Crown hopeful Andre Ethier before his injury sent him to the injury heap.
McCann is slightly better than Martin, but his .258 batting average has been masked by 23 walks, and his 17 RBI isn’t that impressive when you consider he’s batting cleanup.
Fans have also apparently brought into the Ivan Rodriguez hype. The catcher is batting a ridiculous .325 despite just one home run and five walks. The 38-year-old is at his fifth club in just over two years, and he hasn’t batted .300 since 2006. He hit just .249 last season, but his batting average may just be enough to carry him to his 15th All-Star selection.
Ruiz falls into a similar category as McCann, except he has a respectable average to go alongside a solid number of walks. The power and production aren’t really there, but you can’t argue with the success he's been having this year.
That leads to Yadier Molina. His 26 RBI are the most among catchers and two more than Barajas. His .259 batting average is a handful of points lower than the Mets catcher’s, and he has scored just eight runs compared to Barajas’ 20.
Their fielding percentages are almost identical, but Molina’s two home runs and nine extra-base hits are dwarfed by the 10 homers and 17 XBH put up by Barajas.
None of the NL catchers can compete with the average-runs-production triple threat that Joe Mauer brings to the table, but is Barajas honestly that far behind the other backstops in the National League in 2010?
His low walk rate seems to be the only thing holding him back, but when he’s mashing the ball as well as he has been, the argument could be made that it should be overlooked. His six go-ahead Mets have been key in keeping an otherwise average club within striking distance of the leaders.
Barajas has never been to the All-Star game, and many will make the case that he doesn’t deserve to be there this year, that the 34-year-old career .239 hitter is overachieving.
But don’t vote for Barajas out of sympathy—vote for him because he is deserving. He’s been batting either in the seven hole or in front of the pitcher all year, but he has still been productive. More productive, in fact, than guys leading off or hitting in the meat of the order at other clubs.
Barajas has never been a disciplined hitter, but he plays the game the right way. He probably won’t be deserving of the starting job when the All-Star Game rolls into Anaheim, but he sure should be in the discussion.
Just ask any Mets fan. They will tell you how important he has been this year.
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