Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Early Allstar Selections
John Williams

Since there’s no mathematical formula for picking AL and NL allstars, there are many flaws in the determination of roster spots. The biggest flaw of course is having the fans vote for the most deserving players to start. This results in a lot of Yankee, Red Sox, aging former greats, and currently injured players getting spots. And the other flaw is the how the rest of the roster is chosen, as many times managers and coaches will pull for certain players while other more deserving ones go unnoticed. In the end it’s the fans mostly who matter though for this contest and usually enough spots open up as a result of uninterested players pulling out anyway, so no big deal. It seems though even in the pre-allstar analysis by writers of who should and shouldn’t make it, underappreciated players still seem to slip through the cracks while other trendy picks continue to be lauded despite not really deserving a spot on the team.

Exhibit A

Unrelated to the allstar talk, I’d also like to wonder aloud why it’s impossible to bring up Mauer’s name these days without also saying “Remember when the Twins were so cheap and picked Mauer instead of Prior because he would be much cheaper? Well look at him now!” I know that the Twins passed over the most polished college pitcher ever to sign Mauer instead because of ownerships unwillingness to pay up, but still, it wasn’t as if they were giving up on being competitive because of this. Prior was a sure thing top of the rotation guy in theory, but let’s all remember There’s No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect. Looking at it in terms of value, you have Prior wanting $10 about million to sign and Mauer wanting about $5 million. Signing guys out of the draft is extremely risky nomatter what scouts say, so either one is a risk. But Prior is a much bigger risk since he’s a pitcher. What most scouts said about Mauer in college was “like Johnny Bench, but a much better hitter and a much better fielder.” So there ya go, pretty much the best two-way prospect in the last decade or one of the best college pitchers ever, one of them twice as expensive. The biggest question with Mauer was how he’d do at handling big league pitchers and how his enormously large body frame would hold up as a catcher. Everyone knew he could hit like few prospects before. I’m not saying Prior was definitely the best choice, only that it wasn’t exactly a horrible cost-cutting move by the Twins. So people shouldn’t be surprised that he’s making the Cubs look stupid as Prior’s injuries have robbed him of velocity while Mauer is looking like a perennial batting champ threat.

On to allstar talk, here is who Rogers picks at each position, and his runners up in parentheses:

Catcher: Mauer (Hernandez, Rodriguez, Posada).
This is a pretty good list, Mauer should be first. But how does he have Rodriguez on there but not Martinez? (Rodriguez: 5 HR, 30 RBI, .790 OPS, Martinez: 10 HR, 43 RBI, .874 OPS). Don’t worry though, the fans are voting in Varitek at the moment.

1st Base: Konerko (Giambi, Overbay, Broussard).
Giambi is clearly better than Konerko, almost 150 OPS points higher. I’ll let it go because Rogers is an idiot and he did mention Giambi at least. How about mentioning Youuuuuukilis though? He has a higher OPS than Konerko as well… I don’t know why Overbay is even listed, he’s solid but not as good as Teixeira (even while having an incredibly off year), Hillenbrand, or even Shelton. Broussard is having an amazing, and delayed breakout year.

2nd Base: Lopez (Iguchi, Cano)
How weak is the talent at 2nd base in the AL that these rankings are actually correct. YUCK!

3rd Base: Rodriguez (Crede, Chavez, Blalock, Lowell, Wigginton)
A-Rod should start this every year until he rightfully moves back to SS, which will probably never happen. It seems like Rogers is just listing guys who are having better than normal years, or are on good teams, instead of listing the most deserving though. Wigginton? He’s having his best year…meaning a .273 BA and .310 OBP woooo. We are trying to win the game right? And not listing Troy Glaus (19 HR, 50 RBI, .957 OPS) must be a typo so I’ll ignore it.

Shortstop: Tejada (Jeter, Young, Guillen)
Looks good to me (his one perfect list). Oh Jhonny Peralta how quickly your stock has fallen.

Outfield: Dye, Wells, Ordonez (Ramirez, Rios, Swisher, Guerrero, Ibanez)
This is always a tough one since anyway you pick it you’re going to leave great players off the roster. We can do better than this though. First take off Magglio who is having just a good year, not a great one. Dye has to stay since he’s having a huge year, and so should Wells (who edges out his teammate Rios because of his amazing CF defense). The third spot should go to Manny, because any guy with an OPS over 1.0 has to start the allstar game, period. Sizemore needs to be listed here too, because of his all-around play. But you could also list Blake, Matthews Jr., and Ichiro (he is batting .360 here people) ahead of Ibanez.

DH: (Hafner, Thome, Ortiz)
Well there’s no DH this year so it’s just a matter of trying to fit these guys on the team somehow. Especially in the case of Hafner. I hope baseball doesn’t continue the running joke of not picking him for anything.

Starting Pitchers: Contreras (Mussina, Halladay, Kazmir, Zito, Schilling, Rogers)
I like this list, I think all these guys should make the team. That’s of course if you want to play the allstar game without the BEST PITCHER IN THE AL!!! Who edited this and allowed Johan Santana to not be listed???? Santana’s current AL ranks: 1st in strikeouts, 5th in WHIP, 2nd in K/BB, 4th in ERA, 6th in BAA. He’s always a better second half pitcher, but even by the allstar game he should have improved on these already dominant rankings. On Contreras, he is not starting the allstar game, I’m sorry. I would put my money on Halladay. Other guys to watch here are Haren, Verlander, and Liriano if he keeps it up for the next few weeks.

Closers?: Papelbon (Jenks, Ryan, Otsuka)
I put a question mark because I think Rogers meant to write “Relievers here” since I’m pretty sure setup guys can be allstars too. Anyway, trying my hardest to not jinx the closer on my favorite team, I will just say that Papelbon is the allstar closer as of this moment. Where does Otsuka come from on this list? No, I’ll take Ryan, Ray, Jenks, and Nathan. But man do I want to list Zumaya as well. How cool would it be for his 102 MPH fastball to be on national television?

Catcher: Estrada (Ausmus, Barrett, Lo Duca)
Wrong, wrong, wrong. First of all, Brian McCann is still in the league despite his DL stint, and he’s now batting .368. He doesn’t qualify for the batting title because of his time off, but only 3 catchers in the NL do anyway. I guess you have to give some love to Estrada, he of the 5 homers and .337 OBP just because there aren’t many options out there. Ausmus though, no way. I don’t care how impressive his short-lived ability to hit bloop singles is. His OBP is actually higher than his slugging right now, which is not easy to do. Of course it’s easier when you have a grand total of 1 home run. Paul Lo Duca? No, he’s also pathetically slugging under .400 in a dream lineup spot in front of Beltran. Here’s who I would go with: McCann starting, with some votes for Barrett, Miller, and Martin.

1st Base: Pujols (Howard, Berkman, Garciaparra)
Albert get well soon. If we have to play this thing without you (Bud can we delay it a few weeks pretty please?), then Berkman and Howard are the best choices for starter. I’d give the nod to Howard just to give the guy some national attention, he is one of the most awesome hitters to watch in the batter’s box in the game today. And yes, I’d have to include Nomar in here, who has been red hot while he’s been healthy. Also good to mention is Johnson, he is only 1 OPS point behind Howard and really coming into his own.

2nd Base: Utley (Phillips, Uggla)
In baseball at 2nd base, it’s Chase Utley and a bunch of other guys. In the NL, Uggla is one of the other guys, and so is Phillips. Rickie Weeks is right behind Phillips and is even more fun to watch play so I would list him in the top 3 instead.

3rd Base: Wright (Cabrera, Rolen, Ensberg, Hall, Sanchez)
This is a tough one alright. For clarification, Cabrera is superior to Wright, despite Wright’s greatness. Rolen and Ensberg (now slowed by injury) are also having huge years. They could start the game as well. I think I might stop the list there though, I think Bill Hall has been kind of lucky this year and after that the talent drops down into a lower echelon.

Shortstop: Renteria (Greene, Reyes, Ramirez)
A general rule for allstar teams, if you’re batting under .250 and you’re a middle infielder, you’re not going. So see ya later Greene and Reyes. Renteria is the clear favorite. Eckstein is also in the mix for batting close to .330. Hanley is in there as well, and I’ll say Vizquel too because he has some pretty comparable numbers.

Outfield: Bay, Soriano, Jones (Beltran, Lee, Abreu, Holliday, Burrell)
Bay yes, oh hell yes. Soriano too, because he’s on a 60 homer pace (btw what in the world has gotten into Soriano?) Jones no. Beltran is the third outfielder, he’s been sensational, and one of the best players in the NL. Also c’mon where is Adam Dunn on this list? He will probably lead the majors in homers with Pujols sidelined (until Pujols comes back that is). And please get Burrell off this list, unless you also want to take Hawpe, Drew, and Byrnes with you to the game. These guys are very good, not great.

Starting Pitchers: Webb (Arroyo, Peavy, Glavine, Zambrano)
Webb most definitely starts the allstar game. He’s got the wins and the sparkling era to prove it. That’s not to say Pedro hasn’t been the best pitcher in the NL this year, just that Webb is the most standard guy to pick to start the game. Pedro has to be on this list of contenders though, along with Arroyo and Zambrano. I disagree with the others. Peavy is one of the best pitchers in baseball in general, he just hasn’t pitched quite as well this year, in case Rogers hasn’t been watching. Glavine has been good but not great as well. Schmidt has been awesome, he’s on this list and I’m going to mention Chris Young too just because he’s had 2 no-hitters past the seventh. I also need to mention Penny, Carpenter, and Lowe, who could all make the team by continuing their trends for the next month.

Relief Pitchers: Gordon (Isringhausen, Hoffman, Fuentes, Wagner)
Gordon tops the list for sure. Isringhausen, please, I don’t think so, check the K/BB ratio on him and the blown save total. Hoffman is deserving as he is every year, along with Fuentes, Wagner, and perhaps Gonzalez and Cordero if they keep it up.

Now to focus on watching the Red Sox / Twins 1-1 pitcher’s duel tonight. The Twins just removed Santana from the game after 8 innings pitched, 5 baserunners allowed, and 13 K’s to bring in Joe Nathan (1.96 ERA). Both of those guys of course not being mentioned as potential allstars by Phil Rogers.



Anonymous Ajay said...

Why must everybody pick only Yankees and Red Sox?

It's not as though only people in New York and Boston are voting. Unless it is.

You'd think that people would base this decision on something other than how many times they've heard the person's name. Oh wait; we do everything (include electing presidents) based on that.

8:02 PM  

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