Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 22, 2007
BASEBALL: 2007 All-Stars, Part I

I see Dave Stewart is picking his. I explained my philosophy on the All-Star Game back in 2000:

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.

I guess we have to accept that the real question is this: Who would we pick if the All-Star Game were voted on in September? It seems wrong that guys like Albert Belle and Ken Caminiti (who wasn't on the team in 1996 when he was NL MVP) get punished for saving their best work for the stretch drive.

If Nomar is hitting .280 at the break and Mike Bordick is hitting .390, it's a safe bet that Bordick will wind up pretty close to Nomar at the end of the year, so we can fairly honor Bordick for being a better player in 2000. If Bordick is hitting .330 and Nomar is hitting .310, though, I'd rather have Nomar; let's be serious about which one of them will hit below .260 after the break and which will hit around .330 (we will get to the real numbers on the shortstops below).

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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.

Catchers

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.

First Base

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).

Second Base

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).

Shortstop

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.

Third Base

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.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

All-Star Selection always brings out the argument about who should be voted in by the fans. However everyone forgets that the fans only select the starting 8! AND NO PITCHERS!

The other 2/3rds of the team is picked by the Manager. Also the starters only have to play 3 innings and then can be replaced as the manager choses. So the manager really chooses the All-Star game and who plays the most.

So don’t pick on the fans if worthy players does not get on the team and does not play.

Posted by: LeeTee at June 22, 2007 2:02 PM

AL: Not a lot of competition for Robinson Cano (.310/.501/.342, 78 RBI), although Luis Castillo and Brian Roberts are both solid tablesetters.

Um, Placido Polanco? His days of being underrated and overlooked should end this year. Here is his line for this season: AVG .339 | HR 1 | RBI 35 | R 49 | OBP .382 | SLG .427

Using Pinto's data: AVG .328 | OBP .367 | SLG. .404

Cano has spent much of this early season being certifiably awful, while Polanco has helped lead a dominant team at the plate and in the field. I's argue that Cano's stronger year last year is too small a sample to assume he's a better career player than Polanco.

Posted by: Mr. Furious at June 22, 2007 4:01 PM

But Crank, having Chase Utley at second base doesn't help...

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/sports_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_83_5583634,00.html -Classy article

Posted by: hoyasaxa at June 22, 2007 4:44 PM

I agree, the jury is out on Cano. He seemed like a very intriguing prospect last year and perhaps he is just experiencing the Sophomore Slump right now but he has been gratuitously terrible this year. His .278ish batting average in no way expresses how bad he has been through the first 70 games of the year. I see the validity in taking veteran's past history into account but not second year guy's. Hell, Pedroia has been far better than Cano since May 1 and I don't think he should be an All-Star. Guys like Polanco, Castillo and Roberts have earned their stripes. The book is totally out on Cano. He looks like he is going to be fine but he has not shown one lick of that yet this year.

Posted by: jim at June 22, 2007 6:25 PM

Good catch on Polanco,Mr. Furious.The fact he wasn't mentioned in the original post by a knowledgable fan is why he is arguably the most underrated player in the game.

Posted by: AnonE.Mouse at June 22, 2007 7:15 PM

Have to go with Reyes over Ramirez based on the glove. I think at this point Ramirez is the more complete hitter (slightly), but Reyes, along with Cabrera and Tullowitzky looks to be the best fielding SS in the majors.

Posted by: Mike at June 23, 2007 1:45 PM

Comments on Cano but nobody notices the crazy-wrong OBP? Cano walks about as much as FDR.....

Posted by: attorneysteve at June 23, 2007 3:20 PM

And Travis Hafner, down some this year but as good a hitter as anyone in the AL for several years, will not make the all-star team again.

Posted by: stan at June 23, 2007 5:01 PM

Cano walks about as much as FDR...

Hilarious! I'll have to file that one away...

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 24, 2007 11:45 AM

Ever since they decided to end it in a draw I couldn't care less, it took an arguement at work to even get me watching baseball again after that point.

The game is great but the institution seems to try its hardest to kill itself.

Posted by: Peter at June 24, 2007 1:17 PM

I considered Polanco, and maybe I was too focused on the stat breakdown that didn't show him with a competitive number of at bats over the past year, but he has very little power and doesn't walk any more than Cano. He is a good glove, though.

Posted by: Crank at June 24, 2007 11:19 PM

As an Angels season ticket holder, how about an honourable mention for Orlando Cabrera at shortstop? I can go along with Derek Jeter starting and Carlos Guillen as back-up. If Jim Leyland has a third shortstop he ought to take Cabrera over Miguel Tejada. How many World Championships has Tejada won? Orlando Cabrera leads Tejada 1-0 in that category. Except for a couple of games Cabrera has provided the Angels with stellar defense at shortstop. Of all four shortstops mentioned in this paragraph, Cabrera is the best defensively. Batting in front of Vladimir Guerrero has helped Cabrera compile a .330 plus average.

Posted by: Yetijuice at June 29, 2007 6:43 AM
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