There have been some interesting developments over the last 3 weeks since I posted my first All-Star Game ballot. First off, let’s take a look at where the first 5 votes went:
- 1B – Miguel Cabrera (DET)
- 2B – Jason Kipnis (CLE)
- SS – Marcus Semien (OAK)
- 3B – Josh Donaldson (TOR)
- C – Stephen Vogt (OAK)
- OF – Michael Brantley (CLE), Josh Reddick (OAK), & Mike Trout (LAA)
- DH – Nelson Cruz (SEA)
- 1B – Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)
- 2B – Dee Gordon (MIA)
- SS – Brandon Crawford (SF)
- 3B – Matt Carpenter (STL)
- C – Miguel Montero (CHC)
- OF – Bryce Harper (WSH), Andre Etheir (LAD) & Justin Upton (SD)
Of these votes, only 4 in the NL are leading their position (Gonzalez, Gordon, Carpenter & Harper), and just 3 in the AL (Cabrera, Trout & Cruz). Of course, this is one of my pet peeves about the All-Star Game – fans that vote only for their team, rather than voting for the player who actually deserves to be the starter. The state of Missouri as a whole should be ashamed of themselves for voting so much for the likes of Alcides Escobar (about the 4th best AL SS right now), Matt Holliday (maybe the 8th or 9th best NL OF right now) and Salvador Perez (the 4th or 5th best AL C right now). The sheer number of Royals and Cardinals that are currently leading their position is embarrassing. Yes, those two teams are playing very well – but, that in no way means that every player (if any) on that team deserves a spot in the starting lineup of the ASG. So, let’s take a look at who actually deserves to be starting in the Mid-Summer Classic, at this point.
AL – This is still Miguel Cabrera‘s spot to lose. He’s the more complete hitter at the position, even though Mark Teixeira has closed the gap somewhat. Cabrera holds nearly a 100-point lead in OPS, and is batting over 90 points higher. Tex has surpassed him in the traditional power numbers (HR & RBI), but not enough to make me change my vote.
NL – Paul Goldschmidt (ARI). “Goldy” has been on a tear lately, and has overtaken Gonzalez in pretty much every significant offensive stat (batting, OBP, SLG, OPS, HR, RBI). I would still say it’s a 3-man race (with Anthony Rizzo (CHC) still in the hunt), but Goldschmidt is the obvious choice right now.
AL – Kipnis has only widened the gap between himself and the rest of the league at this position, in my opinion. He continues to be one of the league leaders in batting (not just at 2B), and even though he doesn’t hit as many HR’s as Brian Dozier (MIN), his SLG is only .009 behind. Which means he has a comfortable 50+ point lead in OPS at 2B. And, it doesn’t hurt that he’s also one of the top 3-4 defensive second basemen in the AL, too.
NL – Gordon is still my leader, but by the smallest of fractions. In my previous post, I pointed out that the longshot at this position was Joe Panik (SF). Well, he’s not a longshot anymore. Panik’s game has significantly more power, Gordon’s has significantly more speed. So, which do you take? I tend to look at OPS as one of the equalizers in this kind of debate – and Gordon leads Panik by .001! But, at the same time, Panik’s wRC+ is nearly 10 points higher (a stat that accounts for total bases as a player’s contribution to the offense). Right now, I’ll give the edge to Gordon because he’s also the more skilled defender. But, this could change on a nearly daily basis between now and the ASG.
AL – Jose Iglesias (DET). Iglesias still trails Semien in the HR & RBI department, but he has caught up in SB, and overtaken the lead at SS in OPS (and now leads Semien by over 40 points). Iglesias is also a significantly better defender – arguably the best defensive SS in the AL. And, for now, I’d say he’s playing the best all-around offense at SS as well.
NL – Can I call it a tie? This has gone from a 3-man race to a 2-man race. I’ll give Crawford the vote, but it’s by the slimmest of margins. He and Jhonny Peralta (STL) are separated by just 10 OPS points (Peralta is leading), and are tied for the lead in HR. Crawford has the edge in RBI, and SB. The tie-breaker, for me, has to go to defense. And, the advanced metrics paint a clear picture that Crawford is the better defender.
AL – Donaldson is now running away with this position. He has a comfortable lead in HR, RBI, SLG and OPS. Mike Moustakas (KC) is still his best competition, but the gap isn’t really even that close.
NL – Todd Frazier (CIN). Frazier has overtaken Carpenter in OPS (though, by only .003 over Carpenter) as well as RBI, and is well ahead of Carpenter in HR. He’s also leading all NL 3B in SB. Carpenter is still in the race, but Frazier is the clear choice at this point. Kris Bryant (CHC) and Nolan Arenado (COL) are a notch behind the other two, and are certainly worth keeping an eye on.
AL – Vogt now, and Vogt often. It’s a travesty that Vogt isn’t leading this position. It’s not even close. The guy is leading every offensive category, and while he’s no Russell Martin (TOR) (who should probably be choice #2 – but, he’s not even close to Vogt) behind the plate, he’s not a liability either.
NL – Buster Posey (SF). This is a really tough call. Not because there are a couple guys playing really well, and it’s hard to choose. But, because there isn’t really anyone doing anything spectacular. I do know one thing though – Yadier Molina (STL) should NOT be leading this position. The guy’s batting .285, which isn’t bad. But, beyond that, his offense is atrocious. He’s one of the worst overall batting catchers in the league. I don’t care how good his defense is (and there’s not really a big gap between him and the other top catchers in the NL) – he’s a liability with the bat, and that doesn’t spell All-Star. Posey gets my vote because he’s leading all C’s in HR, is 2nd in RBI, 2nd in OPS, he’s throwing out 40% of baserunners, and has yet to commit an error. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) is arguably having a slightly better offensive season thus far (has the lead in OPS), but his defense is definitely behind Posey. Overall, this race is still pretty wide open.
AL – I’m actually keeping my AL OF exactly as it was. Which is unfortunate, because that hurts Prince Fielder (TEX). And, you say, “huh??” As a technicality, Nelson Cruz has played just over 60% of his games in RF, so he should probably be listed in the OF, instead of at DH. But, there’s no chance anyone will think to do that, so he will continue to lead the ballot at DH. Fielder, meanwhile, has actually played the majority of the season at DH, and should be the leader on the ballot at that position, were Cruz not listed already at DH on everyone’s ballot. Got it?? The order I would put the AL OF in right now is Trout, Reddick and Brantley. But, David DeJesus (TB) and Jose Bautista (TOR) are making a run at it.
NL – Harper is playing out of his mind, and deserves to keep his spot. Upton has maintained his level of play, and is 4th among NL OF’s in OPS. The newcomer to my ballot is Joc Pederson (LAD). He would actually be 2nd behind Harper at this point, trailing only Harper in HR, SLG and OPS. Upton gets the nod ahead of Ethier, because he’s ahead of Ethier in HR, RBI, batting & SLG. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) is crushing the ball, but the guy’s batting just .231 with a .325 OBP, which gives him just the 8th best OPS in the NL OF. The guy to really keep an eye on is Andrew McCutchen (PIT). He has finally started looking like his old self, and is creeping up the stat lists.
See AL Outfield discussion above. Fielder is 48 points behind Cruz in OPS, trails in HR by 8, but is tied with Cruz in RBI, and has a 30-point lead in batting. I’ll still vote for Cruz here, but it’s begrudgingly.
Only 1 change in my AL ballot, but 4 new names on the NL side. There are some extremely close races. Stay tuned…