How I'd vote in MLB All-Star balloting
The first release of All-Star voting tallies is to be released Tuesday. Here's one man's ballot.
Major League Baseball is set to reveal the voting tallies of the All-Star balloting Tuesday. Ahead of that, I figured I'd throw out what my ballot would be as things stand right now.
Obviously, voting is subjective and there's no right or wrong answer. Even the criteria can change from voter to voter. For example, I know many are of the mindset that the Midsummer Classic should be a showcase of the stars, meaning that past history plays a role in which players should go. I don't do that. I go strictly in the performance we've seen in the current season. I look at it as a reward for a good first half of the season. So only 2014 matters, to me.
Let's get to it.
Talk about starting off with a difficult decision. Miggy is the best hitter on the planet -- yes, still -- but he got off to a bit of a slow start and faces tough competition here from Albert Pujols and Jose Abreu. I'm going with Cabrera here based upon average/on-base percentage and with confidence that he'll bridge the gap in power before the game is played. I wouldn't argue with those who would choose Pujols or Abreu, though. [NOTE: Edwin Encarnacion is listed as a DH on the ballot, so he wasn't an option]
Second base: Ian Kinsler, Tigers
He's making Dave Dombrowski look like a genius for the Prince Fielder trade, hitting .330/.360/.477. Both Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve have similar batting lines, though Kinsler gets the nod on power and with the glove. Again, I wouldn't argue with those who would rather vote for Cano or Altuve. Brian Dozier and Howie Kendrick also have cases, but they're a bit further back.
As things stand right now, this wasn't particularly difficult. Ramirez is doing everything this season, hitting .320/.355/.483 with seven homers, 36 RBI, 30 runs, nine steals and some quality work with the leather. No one else was really considered, though I'm sure many would want to vote for Derek Jeter in his final go-round -- in fact, I'll be beyond shocked if he isn't elected the starter this summer.
He should have gone last year, but was snubbed. This vote doesn't have anything to do with that, though, as it's based upon merit in 2014. Donaldson is establishing himself as a bit of an unheralded star for the A's and he's outplaying established stars Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre.
Catcher: Derek Norris, Athletics
He's still splitting time behind the dish for the A's, but Norris is hitting .316/.416/.513 and calls a great game. He gets the nod over established backstops like Brian McCann and Salvador Perez and also the surprising Tyler Flowers and underrated Yan Gomes.
Designated hitter: Victor Martinez, Tigers
What a powerful group. Edwin Encarnacion is in the middle of a power surge, Nelson Cruz has been one of the best power hitters in baseball, Brandon Moss has been having a great season and, of course, we must mention David Ortiz. Martinez trumps them all so far this season, though, throwing up a .341/.395/.609 line with a surprising 12 homers.
Trout and Bautista are actually the only outfielders on the ballot with double-digit home run totals, but they're here for much more than that. Bautista has been an on-base machine and Trout is still probably the best all-around player in baseball -- an early-May slump at the plate notwithstanding. Neither was a particularly tough choice.
The third option was tougher. I thought about Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Rios, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones and Melky Cabrera. Brantley, though, has the power-speed combo in addition to a quality rate-stat line (.307/.377/.516). He's also the only outfielder on the ballot with a K-rate of lower than 10 percent.
We may as well flip a coin here between Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt. When that's the case, my tiebreaker is team performance, so it's Freeman with ease. This is a crowded position, too, because Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez merit consideration while Adam LaRoche and even Anthony Rizzo stand on the outskirts.
No one else should even get a vote here. Tulo is crushing the rest of the field.
It's a shame Nolan Arenado went down with the finger injury. I think he would have been my choice here. Instead, we'll go with Frazier. The average (.264) isn't great -- though it's plenty above league average these days -- but he gets on base (.340) and hits for good power (nine HR, .483 SLG). David Wright's a feasible choice, but his power is lacking. Similar sentiment applies to Matt Carpenter.
The list of snubs here is pretty long: Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Seth Smith, Charlie Blackmon and lots of others. I like these three, though. Stanton might be the most exciting power hitter in the game while Puig and Gomez are among the most exciting all-around players. All three are performing well enough to warrant election both offensively and defensively.
Remember, the NL will have a DH, but there isn't a fan vote on that.
Also, fans don't vote for pitchers. So we're done. This is my ballot.
Just for fun, here are my starting lineups (I'll pick the pitchers and an NL DH, again, just for fun).
1. Kinsler, 2B
2. Trout, CF
3. Cabrera, 1B
4. Bautista, RF
5. Martinez, DH
6. Donaldson, 3B
7. Brantley, LF
8. Ramirez, SS
9. Norris, C
SP: Masahiro Tanaka
1. Gomez, CF
2. Tulowitzki, SS
3. Stanton, LF
4. Puig, RF
5. Freeman, 1B
6. Justin Upton, DH
7. Molina, C
8. Utley, 2B
9. Frazier, 3B
SP: Adam Wainwright
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