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It’s the time of year again when somehow ESPN believes John Kruk, Steve Phillips, and many other wannabe experts can tell you who should be on the MLB All-Star team. The other night I was trying to catch highlights of an Albert Pujols home run and Baseball Tonight was trying to push the meme of Tim Wakefield for the All Star Team just because he’s made so many starts for the Red Sox over the years. Really, that’s the qualification these days?
Well, I guess the Yankees better send over their petition to get Andy Pettitte on the team then, as well. Of course, the best players in each league will not all make it due to injury, pitching schedules, and the cockamamie one player from every team rule. Boy is that going to suck this year when they need a player from Washington. Anyway, here is who I am voting for and why (one item of note: I’m using stats through last Saturday).
As much as I want to vote for Mark Teixeira, and as much as I believe that by the end of the season, Teixeira will have put up the best numbers of all first basemen, it is very hard to argue with what Kevin Youkilis has done offensively and defensively. Plus, when it’s time for reserves to come in, he can slide over to third for an inning or two. Or maybe I’m just saying it so that if there’s late inning heroics, it increases the chances that Teixeira is involved? Nah. I truly think that given that we’re supposed to use a half season or so of stats to choose who starts the game, Youkilis is the best choice.
Before I reveal my second base choice, how insane is it that Akinori Iwamura is listed as the second basemen for the Rays? He’s out for the season and has been out since late May. MLB really needs to do something about that, as it’s not fair to a guy like Ben Zobrist, who is playing out of his mind. But, going with who’s on the ballot, Ian Kinsler is back to being the top 2B in baseball, thanks to a little concept called regression hitting Dustin Pedroia.
At shortstop, I’m going to go with Jason Bartlett, who has been a little more valuable than Marco Scutaro despite missing some time for injury. Plus, Marco Scutaro is having a major fluke of a first half.
At third base, there should be no questioning my choice of Evan Longoria. Even after missing time for injury, he has had a great first half to follow up on his great rookie campaign.
My catcher of choice is going to be the man that SI is hoping hits .400 and never tests positive for steroids: Joe Mauer. Can you believe that some people want to move this guy out from behind the plate? He brings a great bat, great glove, great arm and great ability to call games to his arsenal.
Finally, my three outfielders for the AL will be Ichiro Suzuki (who will make it even if he doesn’t deserve it, thanks to Japan only having one notable player to vote for this year), Torii Hunter (man is he proving people wrong about his contract or what?), and Carl Crawford. Some honorable nods in the outfield go to Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, and Adam Lind (however, they’re not the top 3).
Looking back at this roster makes me realize just how scary good Tampa Bay’s offense is, by the way. If only they could get their pitching in order…Okay, back on topic.
First base in the NL belongs to a guy who I am still fascinated to watch play, Albert Pujols. I don’t even think you can argue for anyone else, given the numbers he’s put up offensively. Plus, Pujols is no slouch with the glove, either.
Second base will go to one of the most valuable players on the defending World Series champions, Chase Utley. His closest competitor would be Freddy Sanchez, but Sanchez is left in the dust by the type of production that Utley gives.
Hanley Ramirez is far and away the best shortstop in the NL. It sure is fascinating to see the middle infield talent that Boston chose to trade away.
While David Wright will get the attention as the sexy choice due to his batting average (one that is a fluke, given how often he is striking out and how few HRs he’s hitting), Ryan Zimmerman is my choice for third base. He’s a pretty good hitter and a GREAT fielder. Mets fans always complain about Wright’s defense and I got to see three games of Zimmerman’s and Mets fans get to see 17 of it, and now I understand why they complain.
The only viable candidate for catcher in the NL should be Brian McCann. He’s not quite as amazing as Joe Mauer, but he’s very good overall. He’s been the glue of the Atlanta offense this year.
Finally, in the outfield, I would choose Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Raul Ibanez. Kemp has put up pretty good numbers, considering he’s without Manny Ramirez in the Dodgers lineup, and Joe Torre has his crazy ideas for where fellow Dodgers OF Andre Ethier should be in the lineup. Kemp has really shined defensively, as well.
Justin Upton has followed up a decent 2008 with a much improved strikeout rate and more power. Additionally, he’s been better on the basepaths. Ibanez is still having a crazy good season, even though he has cooled off a little as of late.
Ryan Braun just misses the cut, and I have a feeling if Carlos Beltran were healthy throughout all of this season, or could’ve gotten a few days off here and there (as opposed to playing every day thanks to injuries to Reyes and Delgado), then he could have put up the overall numbers to be well worthy of a spot, as well.
Well, now that I’ve revealed my ballot, I’d love to hear of some of yours. Surely, you can do better than ESPN, too.
Tags: Albert Pujols, Andy Pettitte, Ben Zobrist, Brian McCann, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Bartlett, Joe Mauer, Justin Upton, Kevin Youkilis, Marco Scutaro, Mark Teixeira, Matt Kemp, MLB All-Star Game, Tim Wakefield