National League's Ignored All-Stars
All-Star voting has a week until the starters are finalized. However, as usual, the fan votes are doing a rather poor job a voting for the best players.
This is nothing surprising. I’ve sort of come to terms with this; as long as the starter is in the top two or three, I’m fine with it. Sure, a lot of the best players are already leading their position, but some have slipped through the cracks in the pavement and find themselves in second or third.
And then, there are these guys, who must have entirely missed the pavement. Most of them will make the All-Star team, but have gotten almost no attention in the voting, and find themselves much further back than you would expect from their numbers. Hopefully, if you won’t vote for some of these guys, you’ll at least see what I mean.
First, some honorable mentions. I don’t have space for everyone, so these guys missed the cut for various reasons.
Catcher George Kottaras of the Brewers is doing fairly decent at a weaker position, hitting .216/.371/.451 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with five home runs, but he doesn’t quite have the playing time. I really wanted to write about Troy Tulowitzki, but he’s in third place right now, nearly 600,000 votes behind the slightly better Hanley Ramirez (and, oddly enough, 300,000 behind Jimmy Rollins, who has yet to play in 15 games).
Martin Prado and Dan Uggla are in second and third at second base, but they’re nearly 1.3 million and 1.7 million votes behind leader Chase Utley, respectively. Those three are some of the better second basemen in the league, but that gap seems slightly ridiculous for players so close, stat-wise.
Joey Votto, Reds
Possibly the third best first baseman right now, behind only Albert Pujols and one other first baseman to be covered.
At only 26, he’s amassed 15 home runs, a batting average of .310, and an OPS of .962. His OPS+ is 154, meaning he’s about 54% better than an average player. Despite this, he has little chance of starting, as he is in fifth place in voting, and trails leader Albert Pujols by almost two million votes.
Aubrey Huff, Giants
Huff has rebounded from one of the weakest seasons of his career to one of the best. He has 16 doubles and 12 home runs, as well as a batting line of .311/.401/.549 and an OPS+ of 148.
However, he is one of several strong candidates at first base, and currently does not appear among the top vote-getters.
Adam Dunn, Nationals
It’s a shame that the Nationals have no fan base, as they have three very strong candidates for a starting position. Granted, Dunn may not have the best case of those up for election; first base is usually stacked.
But he’s hitting .275/.365/.569 with 20 doubles and 17 home runs. He doesn’t bring anything other than offense to the team, but seeing as he’s got an OPS+ of 147, he could definitely help.
He isn’t currently a top five vote getter at his position, but with his defense, and the fact that the NL needs a DH, that may be for the best.
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Believe it or not, Gonzalez has edged Albert Pujols in a number of categories, despite playing in the worst park for hitters in the MLB.
Gonzalez is hitting .313/.411/.559 with 15 home runs and 18 doubles, good for an OPS+ of 173. For comparison, Pujols is at .302/.422/.540, 15 homers, 15 doubles, and an OPS+ of 157.
Pujols is a reasonably close second in best first basemen going by stats, and with his popularity, it’s understandable that he leads in voting. What IS odd is that Gonzalez doesn’t even crack the top five in votes.
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Phillips is currently fifth in voting, and he is probably one of the five best second basemen in the league. Of course, if you recall the honorable mentions, Chase Utley has an insane lead on everyone; he is ahead of Phillips by almost 1.8 million votes. Utley has had a decent year, but not that much better; for example, Utley has an OPS+ of 125 to Martin Prado’s 132 and Dan Uggla’s 121.
Phillips is right there with them, with a 124 OPS+, as well as a .305 average, 9 home runs, 12 doubles, and a .846 OPS.
Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks
It’s odd that despite the number of equally strong candidates at second base, one player has run away with the lead.
Johnson isn’t even in the top five among second basemen in votes, despite being one of the aforementioned group of the five best second basemen.
His 124 OPS+ makes him nearly indistinguishable from the other four on the short list, and with 13 homers, 23 doubles, and a line of .267/.369/.508, he seems like he would at least be getting some votes.
Scott Rolen, Reds
Scott Rolen may be the best third baseman in the NL this year.
He sits at 15 homers, more than he’s had any year since 2006, when he hit 22. He also has 17 doubles, a .303 average, and a .936 OPS, good for a 146 OPS+.
He looks more likely to win Comeback Player of the Year than he does to win the starting job, though, as he’s in fifth place in the voting.
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Zimmerman is one of the greatest young players in the game today. At only 25, he has 13 home runs and is batting .287/.382/.529, which puts him at 43% better than an average player (Among NL third basemen, only Scott Rolen has a better OPS+).
Also, he is the best fielding third baseman in the majors right now, with a UZR/150 of 20.8 (meaning, over 150 games, he’ll save that many runs). He’s also not a top five vote getter at third base.
Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
If I asked you to name the best outfielder on the Cardinals, the 23-year-old Rasmus probably wouldn’t come to mind.
However, the center fielder has 14 home runs and a .949 OPS, as well as a .279 average and a 152 OPS+. However, he is fifteenth among outfielders (and third among Cardinals) in votes.
Josh Willingham, Nationals
Willingham completes the trio of strong Nationals choices; the left fielder has 13 home runs and a .274 average, along with an OPS of
.915 and an OPS+ of 145 in a below-average group of outfielders.
Just as you would expect from a Nationals player, he also does not appear as a top 15 vote-getter in the outfield.
Corey Hart, Brewers
Corey Hart Leads the leads the NL with 18 home runs and a .583 slugging percentage. His batting average of .268, on-base percentage of .335, and 144 OPS+ add to the argument.
Despite all of this, he is not in the top fifteen vote-getters in the outfield, most likely because he does not appear on the ballot.
Geovany Soto, Cubs
Soto seems to have recovered from his sophomore slump, and may have even surpassed his 2005 Rookie-of-the-Year-season.
His .268 average, eight home runs, and .867 OPS may seem weak, but are actually among the leaders for catchers. His 125 OPS+ is also one of the best for catchers. Despite his strong year and his team’s large fan base, he isn’t among the top five in votes at catcher.
Miguel Olivo, Rockies
Olivo has managed to keep Chris Iannetta at bay by hitting .301 with nine home runs while playing catcher. His slugging percentage and on-base percentage are also at the highest they’ve been in his career, at .523 and .365, respectively (and, as an interesting note, he’s two walks shy of tying his career high of 20).
All of this contributes to a 127 OPS+, which is solid for a catcher. Despite this, he is not in the top five of his position, vote-wise.
Nick Hundley, Padres
Hundley is probably a surprise to most of you—I had not actually heard of him prior to starting this article.
And, at only 44 games, he does have fewer appearances than most of the other players on this list. However, Hundley has five homers and a .282/.364/.458 line, all while catching for the Padres.
Overall, he has a 133 OPS+, best among NL catchers. Unsurprisingly, he is not in the top five in votes at catcher.