Imagine if fans cast their All-Star votes with the intention of actually picking the most deserving players.
How would things be different?
The All-Star game has become a popularity contest. It's not about which player is having the best season, but instead which player has the best-known name.
That's why I offer you my 2010 April/May American League All-Star starters free of bias and based on what should matter—who is having the best season.
Elvis Andrus, this one's for you!
Why he deserves it: He leads all AL catchers in batting average and runs. Despite the fact that he only has two home runs, he is near the top of the heap in RBI as well. He is also amongst the game’s best defensive backstops.
Stats: .329, 25 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB, .404 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 98 percent
Mauer clearly deserves to be the starter, but the force is strong in New York and Boston. While Mauer currently leads the voting, the Yanks and Sox players always get more votes than they deserve, so Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez both have a shot.
Why he deserves it: He is in the top four amongst AL first basemen in runs, home runs, RBI, and average. In addition, his 41 walks put his OBP just under .500.
Stats: .368, 34 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 0 SB, .488 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 40 percent
Good golly, there are a lot of first basemen having outstanding seasons in the American League! Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, and Billy Butler can all make an argument for being the AL’s starter at first.
However, the Yanks' Mark Teixeira currently leads the pack, while Morneau sits in second.
Why he deserves it: He is winning the second base Triple Crown. He is also second amongst AL second basemen in runs and is slugging over .600.
Stats: .362, 36 R, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 2 SB, .404 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 98 percent
Cano plays in the league’s biggest market, no other second baseman in the league has come close to matching his production, and he is currently leading the vote.
The only thing that keeps him from being a sure thing is Dustin Pedroia. Red Sox nation always has its say when it comes to All-Star voting.
Why he deserves it: He is simply outproducing Derek Jeter, the only other real competition. He has a higher batting average, more runs scored, and a higher OBP than Jeter. Furthermore, his 18 stolen bases are 13 more than Jeter's.
Stats: .311, 35 R, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 18 SB, .398 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 1.254 percent
Despite the fact that Andrus has been the league’s best shortstop, there is a 98.746 percent chance that Derek Jeter will be the AL starting shortstop in Anaheim.
Unfortunately, the fans don’t get it right too often. Andrus currently sits second in the voting, well behind Jeter.
Why he deserves it: He is amongst the league leaders in just about every offensive category. He looks like a good bet to set new career highs across the board, including in stolen bases, where he has already collected nine.
Stats: .324, 35 R, 10 HR, 42 HR, 10 SB, .390 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 60 percent
You can make the argument that Longoria has swung the American League’s most lethal bat so far this season, but he is still far from a lock to start the All-Star game.
He is almost certainly going to have better stats than Alex Rodriguez heading into the All-Star break, but A-Rod is certain to get more votes than he deserves. Anyone else seeing a trend?
Longoria leads the voting for now, but expect A-Rod to close the gap.
Why he deserves it: He and Longoria are the only two AL hitters with double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Add a batting average over .300, and you have an All-Star résumé no one can argue with.
Stats: .312, 32 R, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 16 SB, .368 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: Three percent
Rios is having an outstanding season for the White Sox. However, he lacks the name recognition of many of the league’s elite outfielders, which very likely will keep him out of the AL’s starting lineup.
I could only find the current top 15 AL outfield vote recipients. Rios was not in it.
Why he deserves it: Crawford does it all. He is scoring runs in bunches, is amongst the league leaders in stolen bases, and is posting an average over .300. He also covers a ton of ground in the outfield.
Stats: .321, 38 R, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 16 SB, .376 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 85 percent
Crawford is one of those guys who gets his due throughout baseball, which is why I think the fans will do the right thing and name him one of the league’s starting outfielders.
Despite playing for the small market Rays, Crawford is one of the league’s more popular players. He is currently sitting in second amongst AL outfielders in votes received.
Why he deserves it: He is simply clubbing the ball. He is amongst the league leaders in home runs and RBI, and like Crawford and Rios, he boasts an average of over .300.
Stats: .301, 34 R, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 2 SB, .353 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 10 percent
Like his former teammate Rios, Wells also deserves to be in the AL’s starting lineup, but may not get the fan’s vote.
It's hard to ignore Wells' numbers, but the fans have found a way. He has received the 11th most votes amongst AL outfielders.
Why he deserves it: Guerrero is putting up Triple Crown-type numbers. While it’s a long shot to happen, one can’t ignore the fact that Vlad is hitting the ball like he is 25, not 35.
Stats: .332, 29 R, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 4 SB, .361 OBP
Likelihood that he will be the starter: 80 percent
Guerrero has proven all the naysayers wrong by posting huge stats that prove he is far from done.
Guerrero deserves to, and likely will, start the game for the AL at the DH position and should get a warm welcome from the fans in Anaheim. He currently leads the vote, with Hideki Matsui sitting close behind.
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