Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 22, 2007
BASEBALL: 2007 All-Stars, Part I
In theory, I prefer to see the All-Star Team populated by the best players in the game, regardless of whether they happen to be having the best year. After all, nobody looks back and says, "gee, Willie Mays shouldn't have been on the All-Star Team in such-and-such year because Jim Hickman had a great month of May." The opposite method leaves you with Jack Armstrong starting the All-Star Game. In practice, though, I look at this year's stats as much as anyone.
Before I fill in the lineups, let's start by making room on the roster for the guys the All-Star Game exists for: great players in their prime, having seasons that adequately reflect their greatness.
David Pinto's database gives a great way to put the early numbers in perspective because you can look back a full season at the press of a button, from today to this day last year. I'll use those numbers. I'm using his feature that isolates stats compiled at a particular position, which has the disadvantage of only listing RBI and not Runs. Let's cover the catchers and infielders now, get to the outfield later.
AL: The AL has four catchers who leap to mind - Joe Mauer (.324/.480/.411, 64 RBI) is the best in the league, but injured a lot this season; Pudge Rodriguez (.299/.455/.323, 72 RBI) has had the best career; Jorge Posada ( .306/.522/.374, 91 RBI) is a close second to both of them; and Victor Martinez has the best hitting numbers over the past year (.330/.501/.406, 89 RBI).
You probably need Pudge on the roster somewhere, but I'd give the starting nod to Posada because unlike Mauer he hasn't been injured. Honorable mention to Kenji Johjima, plus John Buck's hot start might get him a crack at a token spot if the Royals need a representative.
NL: Last I saw, Russell Martin (.286/.446/.357, 82 RBI) was leading LoDuca (.320/.413/.359, 45 RBI) in the balloting, but I still think Brian McCann (.296/.521/.349, 106 RBI) was the clear class of the field.
AL: The balloting here is complicated by including David Ortiz (.316/.652/.450, 108 RBI) as a first baseman; you gotta pick Big Papi. Selecting solely from the first base menu, I'd go with the MVP, Justin Morneau (.325/.574/.388, 122 RBI).
NL: Albert Pujols (.327/.594/.413, 119 RBI), or Ryan Howard (.298/.631/.439, 127 RBI)? I still think of Pujols as the best player in baseball, but it was neck and neck between the two in last season's MVP race...I break the tie with the fact that Pujols has been less disappointing this season (he's batting .306 now, compared to Howard at .247; both have similar power numbers) and has been this good for longer. Room will need to be made on the team for Prince Fielder (.269/.529/.363, 95 RBI); honorable mention to Adrian Gonzalez (.310/.526/.377, 106 RBI).
AL: Not a lot of competition for Robinson Cano (.310/.501/.342, 78 RBI), although Luis Castillo and Brian Roberts are both solid tablesetters.
NL: Orlando Hudson (.305/.489/.381, 82 RBI) is the best defensive 2B in the game and has come into his own with the bat - but there is only one best 2B in the National League, and his name is Chase Utley (.317/.554/.393, 115 RBI). Utley's 51 doubles and 31 homers are rare power indeed at his position. Still, it wouldn't be bad to see a little love for the long-underappreciated Ray Durham (.300/.529/.356, 103 RBI).
AL: Carlos Guillen (.337/.560/.411, 91 RBI) has the numbers, and Miguel Tejada (.322/.441/.372, 78 RBI) has the star power, but Derek Jeter (.346/.490/.412, 85 RBI) is still the obvious choice for the combination of the two.
NL: Jose Reyes (.317/.480/.380, 79 RBI), Hanley Ramirez (.317/.519/.374, 62 RBI), Jimmy Rollins (.288/.523/.339, 102 RBI), Rafael Furcal (.315/.463/.380, 62 RBI), and Edgar Renteria (.306/.467/.366, 76 RBI) are all fairly close on the numbers, with distinct advantages; Furcal may be the best glove, Renteria has the most good years behind him, Reyes is the best baserunner. I'm inclined to give the tie to the hometown Reyes, although I would probably pick Ramirez if pushed.
AL: No contest, Alex Rodriguez (.306/.610/.402, 141 RBI). I just picked my fourth Yankee for five positions; shoot me now.
NL: Just as many good candidates as the shortstops - Chipper Jones (.342/.692/.425, 73 RBI - otherwordly numbers, but in fewer than 400 healthy at bats) and Aramis Ramirez (.307/.587/.365, 115 RBI) are serious contenders, and David Wright, Garret Atkins and Ryan Zimmerman also have good numbers. But the logical heir to Pujols as the league's best player, if he stays healthy and in shape, is Miguel Cabrera (.337/.583/.419, 117 RBI). Gotta be Cabrera, he's a monster.