The AL B-East: 10 Deserving All-Stars In MLB’s Toughest Division
The 2010 MLB All-Star game is upon us.
On July 13th, baseball's best will gather in California and battle it out for home field advantage in the World Series.
The starters and the players who fill the final roster spot will be voted in by the fans, while the reserves will be selected by the managers and players.
Some starters will be well deserving of the honor. Others will be voted in simply because they're the fan favorites.
From Joe Mauer in Minnesota, to Josh Hamilton in Texas, and Miguel Cabrera in Detroit, there are great players from all over the American League. But the time has come to decide, what 10 players from just the AL East deserve a trip out to the Golden State for All-Star week?
Without further ado, I present "The AL “B-east”: 10 Deserving All-Stars from MLB’s Toughest Division."
Is your favorite player on here?
Let's find out, as we begin with an easy selection, and a player who's earned
the right to represent the American League in the All-Star game.
Robinson Cano, Second Base, New York Yankees
With the year Robinson Cano is having, not only is he a lock to make the All-Star team, but towards the end of the season, Cano's name will be discussed amongst the AL MVP candidates.
In 295 at-bats, Cano is hitting .359 (first in the AL), to go along with 15 home runs and 53 RBI, including a two-run game winning home run in Los Angeles Sunday night. Cano ranks third in the American League with a .409 OBP, and fourth with a .593 slugging percentage.
Since Cano was called up from Triple-AAA to replace Tony Womack in 2005, I have been waiting for Cano to produce.
Last year, the wait was over. Cano had a breakout year by establishing new career highs in home runs (25), and runs batted in (85). Cano's 204 hits ranked third during the 2009 season, and was first among all second basemen.
His .320 batting average was first among all second basemen. (Sixth in the AL.)
The former All-Star has been one of the best players in the AL thus far, and at the age of 27, the sky is limit for Cano.
For his early season performance, Cano was named the American League Player of the Month for April, and has continued to excel in the months after.
Yankee fans have grown accustomed to his nonchalant defensive attitude, and his relaxed approach at the plate. But as long as he continues to produce, he can have whatever attitude he chooses.
Cano has never been a gold glove second baseman, but with the help of bench coach Tony Pena, who has served as a mentor for Cano, 2010 is finally the year where Cano will have his name mentioned amongst the best defensive second basemen in the American League.
Cano leads all AL second baseman in assists, is tied for first with a .997 fielding percentage, and has committed only one error on the year.
Cano is transforming into a superstar, and we're all lucky that we get to watch it happen.
Kevin Youkilis, First Base, Boston Red Sox
2010 American League Rankings:
1) 1st in Runs (61) and Walks (48)
2) 2nd in OBP (.425)
3) 3rd in OPS (1.009)
4) 5th in Slugging Percentage (.584)
5) 8th in Home Runs (15)
6) 9th in RBI (50)
7) .307 Batting Average
If these numbers aren't deserving of a roster spot on the AL All-star team, then I don't know what is.
Expect to see "Youk" in California for the All-Star game because he certainly deserves to be there.
Phil Hughes, Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees
Welcome home, Phil.
Born and raised in Mission Viejo, California , the 2010 All-Star game which will be played in Anaheim, is going to be a homecoming for Hughes.
Throughout the first three months of the season, the 24-year old has been the ace of the Yankees staff.
Hughes not only leads all Yankee starting pitchers with 10 wins, but also ranks second in the American League. His 3.17 ERA is second amongst Yankees starters, only trailing Andy Pettitte's 2.48 ERA. Hughes' 1.13 WHIP and his team leading 8.53 strikeouts per nine innings is just more proof of how dominate he's been.
By pitching so well this season, manager Joe Girardi skipped Hughes' scheduled start in Los Angeles in order to give him three more starts before the All-Star break, instead of four.
Now is not the time to discuss how I feel about that, but rather, to discuss how Hughes is a leading candidate for the American League Cy Young award.
That is if the Yankees allow him to pitch when he's supposed to.
What Hughes is doing this year on the mound is no fluke as he continues to be one of the best pitchers in baseball over this past year. Since June 14, 2009, Hughes is 15-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 129 innings. He has struck out 137 and walked just 36.
When talking about the game's best pitchers, the names of Cy Young award winners Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Tim Lincecum come to mind; but if Hughes continues to pitch like a future Cy Young award winner, his name will be mentioned amongst the league's best.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, there have been just five Yankees starters in the past 50 years who have begun the season by winning 10 of their first 11 decisions: Roger Clemens in 2001, Jimmy Key in 1994, Ron Guidry in 1978, and Whitey "The Chairman of the Board" Ford in 1964.
Hughes is now part of elusive company, and will be going home to make his first All-Star appearance in a few weeks from now.
It's going to be a welcome home party that he's not going to want to miss.
Adrian Beltre, Third Base, Boston Red Sox
Former Sliver Slugger award winner, Adrian Beltre, has never been an All-Star.
Prior to the 2004 All-Star break, Beltre had 22 home runs, 56 RBI, and a .315 batting average; but Scott Rolen and Mike Lowell were voted to the All-Star game instead.
He finished the season setting career highs in batting average (.334), RBI (121), runs (104), hits (200), doubles (32), OBP(.388), slugging percentage (.629), OPS (1.017), total bases (376), and a league-leading 48 home runs.
Beltre should have been voted to the All-star team that year, but he failed to make the roster.
The following season, Beltre signed a five-year, $64 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. Beltre struggled in Seattle, and this past off-season, Beltre signed with the Boston Red Sox, where he would now be competing with Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria and New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez for the label of best third baseman in the AL East Division.
Any other year there is no debate who that label belongs too. But this year, Beltre is certainly making a case for being the division's best.
He ranks fourth in the AL with a .340 batting average, top-five with 97 hits, sixth in RBIs with 52, to go along with a .379 OBP, a .547 slugging percentage, and a .926 OPS.
Since the MLB All Star game is a popularity contest, as long Rodriguez is at the hot corner and there are enough teenage girls voting for Longoria, Beltre will never be starting for the AL.
Over the past few seasons, Beltre hasn't deserved to be on the All-Star ballot. But during this season, Beltre is returning to his 2004 form, and is deserving of a spot on the roster.
Let's hope the fans get it right, and vote for him. But if they don't, let's hope the AL coaching staff picks the reserves who are worthy of a roster spot.
Beltre deserves to be one them.
Carl Crawford, Left Field, Tampa Bay Rays
2009 All-Star game MVP, Carl Crawford, will be patrolling left field for the American League All-Star team once again.
Although it's a small representation of the incredible season Crawford is having, during the week of June 14th, Crawford hit .429 with a double, a home run, three RBI, and three stolen bases. In addition, he tied the Major League lead with nine runs scored en route to being named the AL Player of the Week.
Arguably the best-five tool player in baseball is batting .306 on the season with 16 doubles, seven home runs, and 56 runs scored.
After winning his first Gold Glove award in 2009, Crawford continues to demonstrate that he is the best left fielder in the American League, and although he ranks second amongst all AL left fielders with a .997 fielding percentage, he ranks first with a 2.32 range factor.
With his speed, Crawford has the ability to turn a walk or single into a double. He not only leads the AL in triples (6), but also has 26 stolen bases, which ranks tied for second.
This will most likely be Crawford's last All-Star game appearance as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
There is no doubt, he's going out on top.
Evan Longoria, Third Base, Tampa Bay Rays
Evan Longoria has been a superstar since he made his major league debut on April 12, 2008.
In his rookie season, he took home rookie of the year honors, becoming just the fourth third baseman in baseball history to win the award. During the Rays magical post-season run, Longoria set the rookie mark for most home runs (4) in a postseason series.
In 2010, Longoria is making a case for being arguably the best third baseman in the majors. Despite his .950 fielding percentage, Longoria makes up for his poor defensive play at the plate.
Longoria ranks sixth in the AL with 52 RBI, and is hitting .297 with 12 home runs, to go along with a .376 OBP, a .514 slugging percentage, and a .890 OPS.
Although the Rays have been struggling as of late, going 19-23 since May 23rd while currently sitting in third place in the AL East division, they will be a contender all season long.
Longoria wouldn't have it any other way.
David Price, Starting Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
Two years ago, David Price was the most hyped prospect in baseball.
In 2009, Price struggled by finishing the season with a 10-7 record, to go along with a 4.42 ERA, and a 1.349 WHIP.
And now, being just a few weeks away from the All-Star game, where Price will make his All-Star debut, he is the AL leading candidate for the Cy Young award.
He currently ranks second in the AL in ERA (2.44), first in wins (11), third in winning percentage (.786), has recorded 85 strikeouts in 99.2 IP, and is holding all opponents to a .225 batting average.
Price was the first AL pitcher to reach 10 wins.
So with his 99 MPH fastball, and his devastating 88 MPH slider, I expect Price to continue his domination in the American League.
You should too.
Jose Bautista, Right Field, Toronto Blue Jays
From Carlos Delgado in 2000, to Mark Teixiera in 2005, to Carlos Pena in 2009, the AL home run leader prior to the All-Star break has made the All-Star team every year.
Until 2010, where Jose Bautista will in all likelihood be spending his All-Star break at home, and what a disgrace that is going to be.
Bautista has never had the reputation of being a home run hitter, but this season, Bautista is having a career year by proving otherwise.
Although Bautista is not the greatest hitter for average, he ranks first in the AL in homeruns (20), fourth in walks (44), twelfth in RBI (49) and has an OPS of .894 and a slugging percentage of .537.
You will not find Bautista's name anywhere on the AL All-Star ballot voting. Bautista is a versatile player and can play both the outfield and third base, but the average baseball fan has no idea who Bautista is, let alone, what team he plays for.
Bautista is on pace to finish the season with 45 home runs, and is projected to finish the year leading the AL with 12.10 At-Bats per HR, and 14.75 Plate Appearances per Home run.
If there's a year Bautista deserves to make the All-Star team, this is it.
It probably won't happen, but that doesn't mean it's right.
Vernon Wells, Center Field, Toronto Blue Jays
Vernon Wells currently ranks behind New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, and Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton on the All-Star ballot.
Wells has more home runs (19), and a greater slugging percentage (.575) than the aforementioned players, and yet he fails to find himself on the AL All-Star roster.
That will hopefully change, otherwise, another player who deserves to make the All-Star team will be left out, and the voting will continue to demonstrate that it's simply a popularity contest.
Wells, who is a two-time All-Star, has been a forgotten soul playing in Toronto. In 2006, he appeared to have signed one of the worst contracts in baseball history by signing a back-loaded contract for $126 million over seven years.
The following three seasons was nothing but failure and disappointment for Wells and the Blue Jays franchise. At the end of 2009, Wells reached an all-time low by finishing the year with some of his career worst numbers by hitting .260 with only 15 home runs and 66 RBI.
But 2010 has been a rejuvenation for Wells, and he deserves to be an All-Star.
Don't hold it against him that he's had a few bad seasons. He doesn't get the national recognition he deserves because he's playing north of the border.
Over the past few weeks, Wells' average has dropped from .302 to 285, but still has 47 RBI on the season. He is still on pace to hit over 30 home runs and drive in more than 100 RBIs.
Wells has been having a remarkable season. Let's hope we get to see his talent on display during the All-Star game.
If Wells doesn't get voted in, let's hope AL manager Joe Girardi selects him to join the team.
He's earned the right to play.
Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
You might notice not a single Baltimore Oriole on this list.
That's because I was debating between Nick Markakis or Ty Wigginton, and in my opinion, neither deserved to make the All-Star team.
But then another name came to mind: Clay Buchholz.
Considering wins and ERA are always looked at in late June and early July, Buchholz is currently ranked second in the AL with 11 wins and is third with a 2.45 ERA
It's important to note that Tim Wakefield's 11 wins earned him a spot on his first All-Star team, and with the All-star game not until July 13, Buchholz will most likely record his 12th or even 13th win of the season before the break.
When Buchholz threw a no-hitter in only his second major league start, the Red Sox organization did not see the progression they had hoped for. Buchholz spent sometime during both the 2008 and 2009 season in Double-A and Triple-A, respectively, but 2010 has been a different story.
Well, sort of, because during spring training, Buchholz was fighting for a spot on the Red Sox roster.
Clay Buchholz: 10-4, 2.45 ERA, 64/38 K/BB, .231 BAA
David Price: 11-3, 2.44 ERA, 84/38 K/BB, .225 BAA
Phil Hughes: 10-1, 3.17 ERA, 78/25 K/BB, .224 BAA
Both Hughes and Price are deserving of a trip to California for a spot on the AL All-Star team.
Add Buchholz to that list too because he's certainly pitched well enough to deserve a spot on the AL All-Star roster.