This year's All-Star ballot looks a lot different than in previous years. As we look at who should be an All-Star in 2011, we see a lot of first-timers and newcomers to the league that have proven they know how to play. People who are normally perennial All-Stars, like Joe Mauer and Ichiro Suzuki, may not even be on the roster this year.
With that being said, here are the top candidates to be starters in the All-Star Game for the American League.
Gonzo has been on fire this season, leading the American League in batting average (.343), hits (94) and runs batted in (60). He has been the catalyst all season for the Red Sox, coming up clutch in offensive situations where he needs to. He also has 13 home runs, a solid number with a lot of time still before the All-Star break.
While many would say, “Mark Teixeira has 21 HR and 53 RBI—he deserves it,” I would like to point out that Tex is the beneficiary of the poorly built Yankees right field, where the jet stream carries pop-ups out of the park. In addition to that, Teixeira has a poor .253 batting average, 90 points below Gonzalez.
Gonzalez also has Gold Glove-caliber defense, which makes him the best choice to represent first base in Arizona this July.
Robinson Cano is at it again this season, leading all second basemen in the American League with 13 home runs and 42 RBI. He is also second in the American League among second basemen with a .291 average.
His offensive production would warrant him a better spot in the order on any other team, but on a loaded Yankees roster, he hits fifth.
He’s by far the best overall second baseman in the major leagues and should represent the AL in such fashion.
Cabrera is having the best season of his career, leading all AL shortstops with 12 HR and 43 RBI, as well as a .296 batting average. He has been the best offensive shortstop this year, and defensively he's no slouch either. He is fifth in the American League with a .987 fielding percentage.
The entire year, he has been the best offensive player for the Indians, and he has gotten them off to one of their best seasons in a very long time. The Indians, until late, were one of the hottest teams in the majors, largely due to the play of Cabrera.
The second of three eventual Yankees—I hate to say it, but A-Rod deserves it. With Evan Longoria battling injury all year and no one else really pushing for a spot other than Adrian Beltre, who pales in comparison in average (.262 to Rodriguez’s .284), Rodriguez has made it clear he is the best third baseman in the AL once again.
This will be his 14th All-Star appearance if he does go, which I am obviously predicting. Not much else needs to be said about A-Rod, so here are his stats: He has a .284 average (second among AL third basemen), 13 HR (first), .508 slugging percentage (first), .875 OPS (first) and .367 OBP (second).
Alex Avila has come out this season and done nothing but hit, hit, hit. Here are his monstrous stats (among catchers):
BA: .307 (first in MLB)
Hits: 59 (second in AL)
HR: 9 (T-second in MLB)
RBI: 38 (first in MLB)
OPS: .922 (first in MLB)
OBP: .370 (first in MLB)
SLG: .552 (first in MLB)
3B: 3 (first in MLB)
Joe Mauer has been hurt all year, just coming off the 60-day DL today, and Carlos Santana has been less than spectacular this year. The only other person who could possibly get more votes from ignorant fans is Russell Martin. Martin has had a great bounce-back year, but Avila’s trumps his in every fashion. This will hopefully be Avila’s first All-Star appearance, and one that isn’t a fluke.
There’s really no contest here. Ortiz is blowing away every other DH with 17 HR. The next closest DH is Johnny Damon at eight HR.
Ortiz is also batting .317, the second-highest average he has ever totaled at this point in his career, not counting his .327 average in 15 games his rookie year. He also leads all designated hitters with 43 RBI, along with Michael Young.
Ortiz is having one of his best years ever and has provided timely offense too. He also leads all DH candidates in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. No other DH has meant more to his team.
Jose Bautista is at it again this year, absolutely dominating all offensive categories this season. He is currently batting .332 with 21 HR (T-first in MLB) and 44 RBI. He also has a surreal .486 on-base percentage and 1.163 OPS, both easily the best in baseball.
His offensive numbers look video game-like and there’s no other outfielder right now who is on his level. He is one of the most feared hitters in baseball right now, as evidenced by the 62 walks issued to him this year, 19 more than the next leading candidate.
Granderson has turned his Yankees career around this year and is playing lights out both on offense and defense. His range seems to be back in the field, and his bat has woken up too. He is batting .285 while tied for the league lead with 21 HR. He also has 52 RBI, first in the American League.
Granderson has turned himself into a threat whenever he steps to the plate, and we'll be sure to see him in Arizona.
Ellsbury is the most deserving of anyone in this entire group. He hasn't just done it with his bat, where he is batting .315 with seven home runs and 33 RBI in a loaded Red Sox lineup. He also has 24 steals, tops in the AL. On top of that he has incredible range in center, where he has made many plays with his glove throughout the season.
Ellsbury hasn't really slumped at any point in this season; rather, he is a model of consistency. He may be overlooked by the casual fan, but if you are a fan looking to cast a meaningful All-Star vote, he should definitely be a lock on your ballot.