I know what you’re thinking – how could you possibly be thinking about an All-Star ballot on May 7th? Aren’t we still a couple months away from the All-Star game?? But, I like to get started thinking about (and arguing about) who the best players are at each position a little early, so that by the time we’re approaching the final voting period, I can have the best players already in mind. Plus, believe it or not, we’re already more than 1/3 of the way to the All-Star Break. So, here’s how my first ballot looked:
AL – Paul Konerko (CWS) – the guy’s playing exceptionally well. He leads all AL first basemen in HR, RBI, OPS, wRC+, batting average, ISO and WAR. His slash line is .347/.426/.614.
Contenders: Chris Davis (BAL) – .299/.343/.526 – a lot of slow starts for the bigger names at this position in the AL, so I figure they’ll be catching up soon.
NL – Bryan LaHair (CHC) – two Chicago guys are lighting it up early in the season. The only first baseman ahead of Konerko in OPS, wRC+, batting average, ISO and WAR is LaHair. His slash line is a very impressive .390/.478/.779. And, while he’s a couple HR behind Votto, and a few RBI behind Votto & Freeman, no one else is really even close to LaHair’s overall numbers at this point.
AL – Jason Kipnis (CLE) – .300/.377/.540 – leads all AL second basemen in RBI, OPS, ISO, wRC+, and stolen bases. He’s just one HR behind the AL leader (Kelly Johnson), 0.1 behind the AL leader in WAR (Kinsler), and is 3rd in batting average. He’s middle-of-the-pack defensively, which could be used by some as a strike against him, and in favor of someone like Pedroia. But, for now, Kipnis is outshining the rest with his overall game, in my opinion.
NL – Jose Altuve (HOU) – .352/.393/.528 – tied with Kinsler for the best overall WAR at second base. He also leads all NL second basemen in batting average, OBP, and stolen bases, while ranking right behind the league leader in RBI (Uggla), OPS (Infante), ISO (Infante), and wRC+ (Infante).
Contenders: Omar Infante (MIA) – .326/.359/.651 – and, while Infante’s defense is better than Altuve’s, I give a slight edge to Altuve for putting up good numbers while playing for a team full of unknowns, while Infante has several big names he’s batting around.
AL – Derek Jeter (NYY) – .397/.439/.595 – leads all AL SS’s in batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, wRC+, and overall WAR. He’s second in home runs and RBI, and 4th in ISO. He’s closer to the bottom than the top defensively, but his offense is so far ahead of everyone else at this point, there’s really no competition.
NL – Jed Lowrie (HOU) – .333/.426/.531 – leads all NL SS’s in HR, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO and wRC+, and is tied for the lead in WAR (Furcal). Add to this the fact that he’s likely the best fielding SS in the NL, and this is a no-brainer.
AL – Evan Longoria (TB) – .329/.433/.561 – leads all AL third basemen in batting average, OBP, OPS, and wRC+. He’s second in SLG (Beltre), RBI (Cabrera), and WAR (Moustakas), and is 3rd in home runs. His defense has suffered a little so far this season, but he’s clearly the leader at this position.
NL – David Wright (NYM) – .375/.481/.545 – leads all NL third basemen in batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS and wRC+. He’s second in overall WAR (Chase Headley). This is a pretty close race between Wright and Freese (the better defender), but Wright has consistently better overall offensive numbers, while playing in a division with better pitching than Freese.
Contenders: David Freese (STL) – .302/.368/.531
AL – Matt Wieters (BAL) – .301/.381/.602 – leads all AL catchers in HR, RBI, average, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO, wRC+ and WAR. In fact, his WAR is nearly twice as high as the next best catcher (Santana)! He’s also one of the better defensive catchers in the AL. It’s going to take a lot for anyone to surpass Wieters at this point.
Contenders: Alex Avila (DET) – .263/.349/.487; A.J. Pierzynski (CHW) – .278/.313/.500 (it’s tough for me to consider these guys even “contenders” yet, because they’re so far behind Wieters, but they’re the closest competition he has at this point)
NL – Carlos Ruiz (PHI) – .318/.344/.565 – leads all NL catchers in HR, RBI, SLG, OPS and ISO. He’s second in WAR (Molina), and average (Posey), and is 4th in wRC+. He also is playing very well behind the plate, leading the league in most defensive categories.
AL – David Ortiz (BOS) – .365/.422/.654 – leads all eligible DH’s in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and wRC+. He’s also 3rd in HR, RBI and ISO (Dunn & Encarnacion).
AL – 1) Josh Hamilton (TEX) – .381/.431/.691 – leads all OF’s in HR, RBI, average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and wRC+. Plus, he’s 2nd in overall WAR and ISO. 2) Matt Joyce (TB) – .292/.382/.596 – 2nd highest OPS and wRC+, 3rd in SLG and ISO, 5th in HR and WAR, and 6th in OBP. 3) Austin Jackson (DET) – .311/.388/.515 – highest WAR in AL, 3rd highest batting average & stolen bases, 4th in OBP, 6th in wRC+, and 8th in OPS.
NL – 1) Matt Kemp (LAD) – .388/.470/.816 – highest WAR in all of baseball, leads NL OF’s in HR, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO and wRC+. And, is 2nd in batting avg., and RBI. 2) Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – .313/.394/.604 – 2nd only to Kemp in OPS, and wRC+. 3rd in RBI. 4th in HR, ISO, OBP, and SLG. 3) Carlos Beltran (STL) – .281/.395/.510 – 3rd highest WAR and OBP, 4th in HR, 5th in wRC+, and 6th in OPS.
Contenders: Ryan Braun (MIL) – .280/.333/.610; Jay Bruce (CIN) – .300/.339/.630 (once you get past these 5 guys, the rest of the field has some pretty glaring weaknesses, so until others start to catch up, I’ll leave it at just 5 worth mentioning for now)
Well, that’s my All-Star ballot for now. What’s yours?