Hard to believe, but it has already been a month since my last All-Star ballot – and last post! So, it’s time to go through my second round of voting, in which I place 10 of my 35 votes. Let’s get started . . .
AL: Miguel Cabrera (DET). This race has completely changed in the last month. Abreu has been injured, and several others have cooled off. Meanwhile, Cabrera has slowly moved back to the top of the heap. He hasn’t hit as many HR as we’re accustomed to seeing (10), but he leads all AL 1B in OPS, batting, RBI and wRC+. Most notably, he has an incredible .418 average and 1.137 OPS with RISP.
NL: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI). This battle is a bit unusual, because there are several good candidates, but the leaderboard in different categories fluctuates among 5 or 6 different players. Of potential candidates, Goldschmidt is the only one that appears in the top 3 in the league in OPS, HR, RBI, SLG, and batting. Morneau is right there with Goldschmidt in a lot of categories, but I’ll give Goldschmidt the slightest edge, considering the lineup Morneau gets to bat in.
AL: Jose Altuve (HOU). Not sure anyone’s paying attention to him, but you should be. He currently is tied for the lead among AL 2B in OPS, in spite of only having 2 HR and 17 RBI – but, he’s a leadoff hitter, so you shouldn’t expect those stats to be gaudy. He’s also 2nd in the league in batting, leads the league in stolen bases (nearly double the second place player), leads all AL 2B in wRC+, and the guy simply does not strike out (just 19 K’s in 242 AB’s). There are others close on his heels, and ahead of him in other categories, but for now I’ll give Altuve the vote.
NL: Chase Utley (PHI). Walker might have the edge in HR & RBI, but that’s the only place he is ahead of Utley. Utley leads all NL 2B in every portion of his slash line – .320/.381/.517/.898, and is second only to Walker in RBI. He also continues to be one of the better fielding second basemen in the game.
AL: Alexei Ramirez (CHW). Leads all AL SS in batting, HR, RBI, SLG, OPS and wRC+. He also is 2nd in OBP, and tied for 3rd in stolen bases. He’s decent enough in the field for that not to be a strike against him, so no one else is really that close to taking his vote.
NL: Troy Tulowitzki (COL). Still a pretty easy choice. Leads all NL SS in pretty much everything but stolen bases. And, he is playing great defensively as well. Looks very much like an MVP at this point.
AL: Josh Donaldson (OAK). This choice has become easier over the last month. Donaldson has surged ahead of everyone else, and there’s really no one very close to him. He leads all AL 3B in HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, and wRC+. He’s also 3rd in batting, and a good defender.
NL: Todd Frazier (CIN). This choice has become both easier and harder over the last month. Some have been injured (Uribe & Ramirez), and some have tailed off in production (Rendon). But, for the two I had to choose between, their stats could not have been much more similar. Frazier: .269/.339/.488/.827, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB. Arenado: .305/.333/.489/.822, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 1 SB. Even though it’s slight, Frazier does have the lead in OBP, OPS, HR & RBI. Plus, his 128 wRC+ leads all NL 3B. So, for the time being, Frazier gets my vote.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Nolan Arenado
AL: Derek Norris (OAK). I think all of the serious candidates at this position have a glaring weakness. McCann is batting .229. Avila has just 13 RBI. Suzuki has just 2 HR, and is slugging below .400. And, for Norris, it’s his defense. He doesn’t throw out but about 9% of would-be base-stealers. But, his offense is without a hole. His .399 OBP and .469 SLG, and subsequent .868 OPS all lead the league. He’s also 2nd in the league in batting, 3rd in RBI, and 5th in HR. Plus, his wRC+ is significantly ahead of everyone else. Normally, I would lean toward defensively talented catchers, but the current crop in the AL is frequently a liability with the bat.
NL: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL). I’m impressed with what Lucroy has done in just a month’s time. He wasn’t even on the radar a month ago, as it looked to be a 3-way battle between Molina, Posey and Saltalamacchia. Now, in addition to being good behind the plate, he’s leading all NL C in batting, OPS, and wRC+. He’s also 2nd in OBP & SLG. There are several within striking distance, but Lucroy is ahead of the pack for now.
AL: Nelson Cruz (BAL). Leads all DH’s in HR, RBI, SLG, OPS and wRC+. Martinez isn’t far behind, though.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Victor Martinez
AL: Jose Bautista (TOR), Mike Trout (LAA), Michael Brantley (CLE). These guys rank 1, 2 & 3, respectively, in OPS; 1, 2 & 4 in HR; 1, 3 & 1 in RBI; 1, 3 & 4 in OBP; 1, 3 & 2 in SLG, and 1, 2 & 3 in wRC+. The only change here from last time is that Melky has cooled off considerably, and Brantley has taken his place. There are others that are close, but are definitely behind these three.
NL: Yasiel Puig (LAD), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Carlos Gomez (MIL). A complete overhaul from last month’s vote. Upton, Blackmon and Braun aren’t playing poorly or anything, but they have cooled a little. Meanwhile, these three (whose average age is 25, by the way), are lighting it up. They rank 1, 2 & 4, respectively in OPS & wRC+; 1, 6 & 5 in batting; 1, 4 & 5 in OBP; 1, 2 & 6 in SLG; 3, 1 & 3 in HR; 2, 1 & 8 in RBI; and Gomez is 6th in stolen bases.