Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My AL All-Star Ballot

Voting ends tomorrow!  All stats through Tuesday, June 26th.  I don't care about reputation or past performance; I just pick the player having the best season at each position.

C A.J. Pierzynski (.284/.335/.493)
His 41 RBI are tops among AL backstops, and he's tied with Mike Napoli for second most home runs at the position behind Boston's emerging Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I thought long and hard about Joe Mauer, who's quietly enjoying a nice bounceback year with his fantastic .322/.417/.436 line, but decided to go with Pierzynski's more impressive power totals (Mauer has just three home runs, and may never reach double digits again as long as he plays half his games in Target Field).  Salty and Matt Wieters are having nice seasons, too.

1B Paul Konerko (.333/.412/.549)
The American League first baseman with the most home runs was not Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira or Carlos Pena.  It's the perenially underrated Konerko, who's also leading all first sackers in batting average, with thirteen big flies.  The five time All-Star's late career renaissance continues.

2B Robinson Cano (.301/.367/.567)
Cano continues to be the most productive hitter in New York's loaded lineup.  His 17 dingers are six more than the next closest keystone defender (Cleveland's Jason Kipnis, the one AL second baseman with more RBI) and only Ian Kinsler has scored more runs.  Cano has been especially hot of late, with half a dozen long balls in his past nine contests, and looks headed for his first 30 homer campaign.

3B Mark Trumbo (.320/.373/.622)
Tough call between him and Miguel Cabrera (.304/.363/.528), who's already piled up 59 RBI but is having a "down year" by his lofty standards.  Trumbo, the American League leader in OPS+, has gone deep more than any other AL third baseman with 18 four-baggers.  His power numbers are elite, and only Adrian Beltre (.328) sports a higher batting average, though we all know he can't possibly keep that charade up for much longer based on his 59/19 K/BB rate.  With Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar, Kendrys Morales and Vernon Wells all slumping, Trumbo and Mike Trout have been first half MVPs for the Angels.  Brett Lawrie's also having a heck of a year, and Evan Longoria  raked in April before landing on the DL with a partially torn hamstring.  Alex Rodriguez has been coming around lately, too.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera ( .291/.376//.474)
I know the fans are going to pick Derek Jeter (.305/.354/.412), who's so popular that he's a lock to get voted in every year no matter what his statistics look like.  The Yankees Captain celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday with a pair of hits in a Yankees win, but he's been ice cold over the past month and a half.  His batting line is still inflated by a scorching hot four week stretch to open the season, but Cabrera is clearly more deserving, mainly because his OPS is 84 points higher and he plays excellent defense (Jeter, well, doesn't).  Personally I'd rather have Elvis Andrus (better defender batting .301 with more runs, RBI, and twice as many steals) instead of Captain Clutch as the reserve. 

OF Josh Hamilton (.317/.378/.656)
The major league leader in home runs, RBI, and total bases is a no-brainer.  The first half AL MVP has cooled considerably since his historic nine-homer week in May, but he remains on pace to eclipse 50 moon shots and could still make a legitimate run at winning the Triple Crown, something nobody's done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.  Like Mickey Mantle half a century before him, he just needs to stay healthy.

OF Adam Jones (.298/.344/.555)
Not quite the Matt Kemp-esque breakout some were hoping for, but close enough.  I considered Curtis Granderson, who's in line for another 40 home run season, but Jones is right with him in the power department and holds the OPS high ground by 56 points. 

OF Jose Bautista (.233/.353/.530)
A .195 BABiP has murdered his batting average, but all his other stats are right where they should be. Joey Bats is tied with Hamilton for the major league lead in home runs, but that's nothing new for the man who has belted more baseballs out of the park than anybody since Opening Day, 2010.  After a sluggish start he's been on a roll since the calendar flipped to May with 21 home runs, 47 ribbies and a .626 slugging percentage in that time.

Feel bad leaving out Josh Reddick...
DH David Ortiz (.307/.393/.618)
Billy Butler is having a fine year, and Edwin Encarnacion is finally putting it all together at the age of 29 (sounds like another Toronto late bloomer--see above), but to me this looks like a two horse race between a pair of big-time sluggers; Ortiz and Adam Dunn.  Dunn, who's not done clearing the fences after all, is leading the Junior Circuit in games played, so it makes sense that he holds small advantages over Ortiz in home runs (three) and RBI (just one), but Big Papi's OPS is nearly 150 points higher.  Plus Dunn has already whiffed 121 times, and if he keeps fanning at that rate he's going to absolutely obliterate Mark Reynolds single season strikeout record of 223, set in 2009.  So when he's not taking pitchers deep or working a walk, at least he gives the fans in the front row a nice breeze.  What a guy.

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