|Voting for "All-Stars"|
Written by Tony Meale (Contact & Archive) on June 30, 2009
In theory, the All-Star Game is a pretty good idea. Every year, once a year, assemble the best players from each league and have them have at it. And the best part? The fans get to decide who represents each team.
And really, it's a perk we deserve. We're the people who shell out hundreds -- and in some cases, thousands -- of dollars each year to support our team of choice. We're the reason that guys like Alex Rodriguez can sign a $252-million-dollar contract and be set for life (heck, a small country could be set for life on A-Rod's salary). Sure, baseball may be a business, but we're the ones footing the bill. It's a fact that many big leaguers either don't understand or don't care about, but without us, there is no Major League Baseball.
Except we're not very good at it.
All-Star voting is a popularity contest. The biggest names -- especially from the biggest markets -- make the teams, regardless of their statistics from the first three months of the season. How else can you explain that until a few days ago, Jimmy Rollins was the top vote-getter among NL shortstops? This is the same Jimmy Rollins who, entering play on June 28, is hitting .211 with six homers and 27 RBI. Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, has produced better numbers than Rollins across the board; after all, he was the top fantasy pick in most drafts for a reason, right? But Hanley plays in a small market that draws few fans, and Rollins plays in a big market that draws many.
Herein lies part of the problem -- homer votes. The other part pertains to fans' general inability to look at this season -- and only this season -- when casting votes. We're not comparing careers here. At least, we're not supposed to be. If we were, you could certainly make a case that because of Rollins' body of work -- he has won an MVP award -- he deserves the nod over Hanley. But when I'm watching the 2009 All-Star game, that's precisely what I want to see -- the best players in 2009.
Thus, I present to you, for better or for worse, my starting lineups for the 2009 All-Star Game.
First Base - Miguel Cabrera: One of the top five hitters in baseball, Cabrera is batting .336 with 17 bombs and 54 RBI.
Second Base - Aaron Hill: Think it should be Ian Kinsler? Well, Hill has more homers and more RBI, along with a batting average about 30 points higher.
Shortstop - Jason Bartlett: Even with his brief stint on the DL, Bartlett is hitting .366 in 205 at-bats and has 16 steals.
Third Base - Evan Longoria: He's cooled off a bit after a torrid start, but the pre-break numbers are there -- .307/16/62/45.
Catcher - Joe Mauer: Ted Williams, anyone?
Outfield - Carl Crawford: A .314 average and 39 steals. Enough said.
Outfield - Jason Bay: The average (.278) could be higher, but it's hard to argue with 19 homers, 69 RBI and 49 runs scored.
Outfield - Torii Hunter: He's playing great defense -- as always -- and is now working the complete offense game: .308/17/56/50/12.
First Base - Albert Pujols: You know what? I'm not even going to give you his stats. Dude is just that sick.
Second Base - Chase Utley: This Phillie is deserving of his starting spot (.299/16/49/52/7).
Shortstop - Hanley Ramirez: One of the most complete offensive players thus far this year, Ramirez is hitting .335 with 12 homers, 50 RBI and 11 stolen bases. And he's doing it with relatively little support around him.
Third Base - David Wright: The home runs (four) could be higher, but I'll take the .346 average and 19 stolen bases, especially considering the Mets' injury woes.
Catcher - Brian McCann: He's leading NL catchers in average (.323) and has still managed to provide some pop with eight bombs.
Outfield - Ryan Braun: He got off to a slow start, but he's turned things around nicely. He's hitting .324 with 16 homers, 53 RBI and 55 runs scored.
Outfield - Justin Upton: One of the promising all-around players in the bigs, Upton, 21, is sporting a .317 average with 14 homers, 45 RBI and 10 steals.
Outfield - Matt Kemp: He's not the only reason the Dodgers haven't floundered without Manny, but he's a big part of it (.312/9/40/41/18).
As for my starting pitchers, I'll go with Zack Greinke and Dan Haren, with the closing roles designated for Jonathan Broxton and Joe Nathan.
So there you have it. The case could certainly be made for other players, so feel free to make yours. All-Star voting ends July 2. so do you what you have to do.
Please just don't vote for Jimmy Rollins.