Three days ago, Major League Baseball released the latest results in the balloting for the 2011 All-Star Game. Among the notable changes was at first base in the American League, where Adrian Gonzalez had overtaken Mark Teixeira and now leads the Yankee by about 250,000 votes.
Gonzalez, when playing for the San Diego Padres before his offseason trade to Boston, made the NL All-Star team each of the previous three seasons. He was a reserve each time, with the St Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols a lock at the position every year since 2003.
This year, however, he has his best chance at actually getting the start at first base, rather than coming in as a late-inning replacement. Standing in his way is the New York Yankees' star who came second in the MVP race two seasons ago. So far, the voting has been close but it really should not be.
Mark Teixeira does have the advantage in walk rate (12.8 percent to 8.2 percent) and has a slender edge in strikeout rate (17.8 percent to 18.1 percent). Tex also has 21 home runs, seven more than Gonzalez. However, while Fenway Park is a hitter's field, it does not give nearly the advantage the wind tunnel to RF that Yankee Stadium does. Other than that, there can be no question who has been the better player this season.
Gonzalez has more doubles (23 to 10), triples (two to zero), RBI (61 to 53), intentional walks (six to two) and runs (47 to 42). This, despite having just 10 more plate appearances than his New York counterpart.
For the second-straight year, Mark Teixeira has struggled to hit for average. This year, he is hitting at a .251 clip, almost 100 points worse than Gonzalez, who is at .347. Gonzalez also betters him in slugging percentage (.596 to .567) and despite the much lower walk rate, on base percentage, with a .402 mark to Texeira's .365.
However, it is defensively that Adrian pulls clear ahead. There is no comparison. Teixeira, who has won four Gold Gloves in his career, has been subpar in the field. He committed just three errors last season but this year he already has two. His UZR/150 is similarly poor, at a barely-above-average 0.2. By comparison, Gonzalez's is 14.8 (best amongst Major League first basemen) and he is yet to commit an error.
Adrian Gonzalez has been worth everything the Red Sox gave up to land him, both in prospects and money. He has rewarded them with a brilliant level of production. Now the fans should reward him with his first start in an All-Star Game.