The “Perfect” American League All-Star Ballot
Major League Baseball announced the 2nd round of voting for the All-Star game over the past two days. The American League voting is still being dominated by the legions of Texas Rangers fans voting at will and having their players hold down five starting spots. With just over two weeks left before the starters are announced, I think it’s time to announce what my ballot will be for my 125 votes. (Like you don’t have more than one e-mail account to use too.) My National League ballot will be coming out tomorrow, but for now here’s who I think should start for the American League. I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.
Mapes Pick: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
American League catcher is a mess right now. Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, and Joe Mauer have been slight disappointments so far. It’d be a nice final All-Star appearance (probably) for Pierzynski who last made the Midseason Classic in 2006. Pierzynski leads AL catchers in OPS and RBI currently, while being 2nd behind Mauer in batting average (.288), and 3rd in home runs, just one behind Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. (Author’s Note: As I was writing the blog, Pierzynski tied Napoli and Saltalamacchia with his 11th HR of the year.)
Acceptable to Vote For: Joe Mauer, Twins, Mike Napoli, Rangers, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
Please Stop Voting For: Russell Martin, Yankees
Mapes Pick: Paul Konerko, White Sox
I’d like to think my first All-Star injustices column helped propel Konerko past Mark Teixiera into the #2 spot at first base. Konerko leads the American League still in batting average and OBP. Plus, he leads A.L. 1st baseman in OPS and has more home runs than current leader Prince Fielder. Fielder does have the advantage in runs scored and batted in.
Acceptable to Vote For: Prince Fielder, Tigers
Please Stop Voting For: Mark Teixiera, Yankees, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, and Albert Pujols, Angels
Mapes Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees
Ian Kinsler has six more runs scored than Cano. Cano just has four more home runs, the same RBI, a better batting average and OPS and is playing Gold Glove 2nd base compared to his Texas counterpart. Kinsler is having his typically solid year and I think should be picked by his skipper Ron Washington to head to Kansas City, but Cano should be getting the starting nod.
Why Jason Kipnis is in 5th is beyond me, he’s the only 2nd baseman with double digit steals and home runs. Kipnis is hitting .285, is tied for 2nd in the A.L. in runs scored (behind Kinsler), and is tied for the A.L. lead in stolen bases with someone we’ll get to later.
Acceptable to Vote For: Ian Kinsler, Rangers and Jason Kipnis, Indians
Please Stop Voting For: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox and Robert Andino, Orioles
Mapes Pick: Derek Jeter, Yankees
It’s closer than the near million votes that Jeter is leading the pack by. It’s Derek Jeter though, if he’s having a good season, then he should start the All-Star Game. Fans are getting this one right.
Acceptable to Vote For: Elvis Andrus, Rangers and Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Please Stop Voting For: Alcides Escobar, Royals
Mapes Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Like his fellow teammate on the left side of the infield Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre should be coming off the bench for the All-Star team not starting it. Cabrera is one of is the not the most feared hitter in the American League. Cabrera is better than Beltre in every statistical category this season. If I was to choose one player currently not starting to track down his positions leader, it’s Cabrera first, then Konerko.
Please stop voting for Evan Longoria, I beg of you. You’re making all of us look bad. You’re better off trying to swing the vote for hometown player and underrated this season Mike Moustakas. It’s also pretty embarrassing that Angels Mark Trumbo isn’t in the top five at this position. I mean he’s only 4th in AVG, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in OPS, and 7th in HR’s in the entire league.
Acceptable to Vote For: Mark Trumbo, Angels, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, and Mike Moustakas, Royals
Please Stop Voting For: Evan Longoria, Rays
Mapes Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Hard to go against Adam Dunn who has bounced back from a horrific 2011 to have over 20 home runs already. The difference between Ortiz and Dunn is seven home runs, but I value Ortiz’s lead in average (massive), OBP, SLG, and OPS more. Fun Adam Dunn stat: he currently leads the American League in both walks AND strikeouts.
The underrated player in this position is Edwin Encarncacion who has been fantastic for the Blue Jays this year, but doesn’t make the top 5. Michael Young is one of my favorite players of the past decade, but doesn’t belong 2nd based on what he’s done. He’s just getting the Ranger fan bump.
Acceptable to Vote For: Adam Dunn, White Sox and Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Please Stop Voting For: Michael Young, Rangers and Raul Ibanez, Yankees
Mapes Picks: Josh Hamilton, Rangers, Adam Jones, Orioles, and Mike Trout, Angels
I’ve spent enough time this season talking about Hamilton, he’s the clear-cut A.L. MVP right now and should be the top vote-getter.
Adam Jones has done everything in his power to carry the Orioles. He’s the top reason that Baltimore is in contention right now in the A.L. East. In addition to Gold Glove defense he’s top five in the league in home runs, total bases, hits, and offensive WAR. Plus, Jones is adding a .300 batting average and nine stolen bases to the mix. The closest battle for a starting spot right now is for the 3rd A.L. outfielder. Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, and Jones are separated by a shade over 80,000 votes. Jones is the clear-cut choice of those three to me.
Curtis Granderson is 2nd in the voting and will be included in my “acceptable to vote for”, but who wouldn’t want to see Mike Trout in the outfield. Trout has turned the Angels fortunes around since getting called up. If Trout currently qualified, he would be 2nd in batting average, 4th in OBP, 9th in SLG, and 6th in OPS. For good measure he’s tied for the American League lead in stolen bases and he didn’t even play the first month! Trout has earned a spot. Only problem is you have to vote for him as a write-in candidate.
The true atrocity at this position is Josh Reddick and Josh Willingham not cracking the top 15 at the position. They are both having breakout seasons and will more than likely be their respective teams solo representatives (unless the A’s Ryan Cook is picked over Reddick). Willingham is 2nd in the league in on-base. How can you not be #WildForWillingham after watching this either?
Acceptable to Vote For: Curtis Granderson, Yankees, Josh Reddick, Athletics, and Josh Willingham, Twins
Please Stop Voting For: David Murphy, Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, Brett Gardner, Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, and Nick Markakis, Orioles
Anything you think I’m completely crazy on? Want to defend a player that currently has a starting spot? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)