I can't believe how fast this summer is going! It just seems like yesterday we were in April with the first pitches of the season being thrown all over ballparks across the nation. Yet here we are at the "midway point" of the baseball season and the time when we critique the omissions from the Midsummer Classic.
A few things should be pointed out before you move on, though, for clarification sake. One is the fact that I truly think the voters did a solid job this year of voting in the starters for both leagues. There are a couple that are quite questionable (Jeter and Venters), but overall, I think they did a great job.
Two, as usual, the American League will be dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox. I guess that is only fitting, as they are arguably the two best teams in the American League.
Finally, I was happy to see Jose Bautista receive the most votes this year. It was good to see a guy that has turned his career around 180 degrees being recognized as the player he has become.
Avila’s numbers are very similar to Santana’s with the exception of average (Avila is at .298). Still, one of the surprise teams this year in the first half is the Indians, and Santana has been solid behind the dish for the Tribe so far.
You will see as you read through this list that there are some no brainers this year. Adrian Gonzalez being selected at first base is one of those no brainers, but you could make an argument for Paul Kornerko as well. Konerko continues to put up steady numbers across the board, and this year is no different. If Gonzalez isn’t having the year he is having, Konerko is your starting first baseman.
The Red Sox and the Yankees seem to be on a collision course in the playoffs again this year, more than likely to see who goes to the World Series. This is the only position, though, this year where these two teams have players you could argue both deserve to start.
It seems as Pedroia goes, so do the Red Sox. He is hitting .278 this year with seven home runs and 38 RBI. Cano’s numbers are better across the board, but you could argue Pedroia has been more valuable the first part of the season.
Although Beltre’s average maybe isn’t where it should be, his numbers and defense are enough to put him ahead of A-Rod at third base, plain and simple.
This is simply name recognition over statistics. The fans got it right this year not selecting Ichiro to man right field, but messed up selecting Jeter over Cabrera. Jeter has been out almost three weeks now, and even though he is closing in on 3,000 hits, his numbers this year, and last, aren’t good enough to be starting an all-star game. Everything about Cabrera this year has been better than Jeter, but it is Cabrera who will be coming in as a reserve versus a starter.
Ellsbury has been a constant threat in the potent Red Sox lineup this year. His 57 runs, 26 stolen bases and .302 batting average has been the catalyst to the offense for the Sox. Hamilton is a solid player and indeed deserving of all-star consideration, but being injured much of the early part of the year has hurt his numbers and thus given him an all-star start he doesn’t deserve.
Sabathia is tied for the league lead in wins with 11. He has 106 strikeouts and an ERA hovering around 3.00. He’s on the team with the best record in the American League and still isn’t on the all-star team. It’s hard to tell who he should be taking the place of him only because we don’t yet know who the starting pitcher will be for the American League. However, by pure numbers, he deserves to be on the team ahead of fellow lefty David Price.
Soria lost his closer’s role for a couple weeks in late May, but has since then has regained it and been lights out. He has given up one run since early June and has cut almost a run and a half off his ERA. True, in May, Crow was the man and did a decent job while filling in for Soria, but Soria is back and is deserving of a spot on the all-star team.
It’s hard to argue with the guy that is leading his position in every relevant statistical category, but you COULD make a case for Jonathan LuCroy. LuCroy has hit seven home runs and has driven in 36 while maintaining a .287 batting average. He is in a potent Milwaukee lineup, as suggested by the three starting all-stars. However, it’s hard to argue against McCann and what he means for the pitching staff as well as the lineup in Atlanta this year.
Fielder is leading National League first baseman in home runs and RBI. Pujols isn’t having his typical Triple Crown year, and Votto, although solid, hasn’t been able to hang with Price. Ryan Howard may be as close to Prince right now at first base going into the all-star game and could have a legitimate argument to start. He is on the majors' best team and has put up numbers very close to Fielder’s, minus the average.
Second base was about as tough of position as there was to figure out if the voters got it right. It’s a very close group consisting of Weeks (the starter), Danny Espinosa from the Nationals and Brandon Phillips from the Reds. Maybe this is sympathy, but I really like Neil Walker and thought he may have gotten the nod. He is leading National League second baseman with 55 RBI for the resurgent Pirates, who look to be for real this year. They got their closer on. but I think may have missed out with Walker.
Ramirez is starting to round into form with the bat. Over the past couple of weeks, Ramirez has hit seven home runs and driven in 11 runs. His numbers, with the exception of stolen bases, are better than Polonco’s. This, like in the American League, is a case of the winning team (Phillies) supporting their guy better than the guy who should be starting in Ramirez. With that being said, it’s tough to vote in a player to start with one of the worst records in the league.
Reyes has done absolutely everything right this year except hit for power. He is going to be a very rich man after this season and won’t have to deal with the “other New York team” and their financial concerns. However, Troy Tuolowitzki is just as good as Reyes and very easily could have nabbed the starting job from Reyes. In today's game, you don’t see a shortstop putting up the power numbers across the board like Tulo has.
I looked and thought about anybody who should be in the starting lineup for the National League outfield, but in all honesty, couldn’t find anybody more deserving than the three that were selected. You could make a case for Andrew McCutchen, along with Chris Young and Justin Upton, to start maybe over Lance Berkman but the Puma has been resurrected this year and is putting up numbers similar to his days in Houston. It’s also hard to argue against Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun. Simply put, the voters nailed this one.
At publishing time, Kennedy was 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA. He is a steady presence on a resurgent Diamondback team that has the characteristics of their manager Kirk Gibson. Although Kennedy and Matt Cain’s numbers are almost identical, I think Kennedy should get the nod because of what he has meant to his team this year.
I’m not sure why Venters was picked over Kimbrel unless Bruce Bochy wanted a “setup guy” to get to whichever closer he intends to use if put in that situation. Kimbrel has indeed had a couple of blown saves, but his numbers are amazing when compared to Venters and is closing games for the team that is right behind the Phillies in the NL East. It’s tough not to have Kimbrel on the list where he should be ahead of Venters.