We here at the WCCO.com Twins Blog are naturally big baseball fans, so we always look forward to the All-Star Game. All the more so this season because the Mid-Summer Classic is being held at Target Field.
One of the joys of baseball’s annual honor for the best in the game, is that fans get to play a significant role in selecting who gets play in the game.
Sometimes it’s for performance, sometimes it’s a lifetime achievement award (hello, Derek Jeter) and sometimes it’s just root-root-rooting for the home team.
With that in mind, we’d like to present our own All-Star ballots, and how we got around to choosing them.
We start with he who has been here longest.
Peter Nelson’s Ballot
If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s folks who vote for their “favorites” regardless of their performance that year. If Fantasy Baseball has taught me anything it’s to respect the stats. Here’s my ballot:
1B: Jose Abreu – CHW
Abreu was the second-most hyped rookie coming into the 2014 season and he hasn’t disappointed. He is destroying the ball and didn’t miss a beat after coming off an ankle injury. I’d take him over Miggy at this point.
2B: Brian Dozier – MIN
Dozier is getting it done this season, offensively and defensively. No hometown bias here. He’s the best second baseman the first half of 2014.
SS: Alexi Ramirez – CHW
Another White Sox player on my ballot but it’s hard to argue with a batting average above .300 and 30+ RBI at short.
3B: Josh Donaldson – OAK
Many thought Donaldson should have been at the All-Star game last season. This season he’s made it pretty clear he belongs there.
C: Kurt Suzuki – MIN
Suzuki has been quite the surprise for the Twins. He deserves to be there just as much as an injured Matt Wieters or Brian McCann.
DH: Nelson Cruz – BAL
If he’s made a clean comeback then he deserves to be at the big show. I presume they’ve tested him.
OF: Yoenis Cespedes – OAK, Jose Bautista – TOR, Mike Trout – LAA
Cespedes can throw anyone out. Bautista destroys the ball. Trout can catch everything. This is the OF I’d like to see at Target Field on July 15.
1B: Justin Morneau – COL
I’m going to get a little sentimental here. Morneau has bounced back nicely after signing with Colorado and their potent offense. It would be fitting for him to start the All-Star Game at Target Field.
2B: Anthony Rendon – WAS
Some think Rendon is the National’s best hitter. The young infielder is putting up the right numbers to make that argument.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki – COL
I’m sure my vote will be the deciding vote to get this guy in. He’s only batting .356 as I write this.
3B: Todd Frazier – CIN
My heart wanted to go with Pedro but the numbers say Frazier.
C: Evan Gattis – ATL
Gattis was my favorite story from last year and I don’t want it to end. My vote goes to “El Oso Blanco.”
OF: Giancarlo Stanton – FLA, Charlie Blackmon – COL, Yasiel Puig – LAD
Stanton has been unstoppable. Blackmon has been a surprise. Puig is a must-see.
Tracy Perlman’s Ballot
I love baseball. I love the Twins.
I don’t however, love all the other teams. I’ll watch them, sure. But know every player on the roster? Nope. Who’s got time for that? (OK, I know a lot of people do and fantasy teams make it even easier, but I don’t have time for that).
My All-Star ballot voting process is a simple one. I skim the list looking for Twins players and vote for them.
No fancy equations. No staying up all night debating who’s deserving of a spot. No second guessing.
There are some exceptions.
Former Twins who I remain a fan of will get priority too. Sometimes even over the current starting lineup. For example, I continue to root for Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and AJ Pierzynski.
While I may not know every starter, I do know a good majority of them and their capabilities. Some are more deserving of an All-Star invitation than the Twins starters.
When wavering from the Twins roster, my decision is based on two things: How are they off the field? Are they a good person? Good role model? If yes, then I consider how good they are at their position.
If at this point, I’ve decided to give the vote that much consideration, I’ll give them my vote.
Of course, this only applies to the American League. For National League, I depend solely on if I’ve heard of them and then what I know about them.
Or I just vote for the Cubs player, because they could use as much good morale as possible. Here’s my ballot:
1B: Joe Mauer – MIN
2B: Brian Dozier – MIN
I’m sure he’ll get beat out by Robinson Cano, but I don’t care. Dozier’s hair is WAY more All-Star worthy than Cano’s.
SS: Derek Jeter – NYY
This is one of those “he’s a good guy and good at his position and it’s his final ASG” votes. Plus, he’s a future Hall of Famer, and aren’t those the guys you want to see play in All-Star Games?
3B: Trevor Plouffe – MIN
Maybe not technically the best third baseman out there, but he’s made a big improvement this season and he’s all hustle and heart.
C: AJ Pierzynski – BOS
I know a lot of Twins fans can’t stand him, but I always have and always will be a fan of his.
DH: David Ortiz – BOS
This was tough for me. I wanted to vote for Kubel, but he got designated for assignment. Since Big Papi is a former Twin, I don’t feel as bad giving him my vote.
OF: Torii Hunter – DET, Aaron Hicks – MIN, Josh Willingham – MIN,
Hunter has a special place in my heart. His #48 jersey is the first, and only, player jersey I own. Hicks has made some insane catches at the warning track and should be back from the DL by the break. I’d love to see those web gems against some of baseball’s best. Willingham is likely better suited for the home run derby, but still, he gets my vote.
1B: Justin Morneau – COL
He’s a great first baseman. Plus, it’d be totes adorbs to have the M&M boys back together at Target Field.
2B: Rickie Weeks – MIL
He has good hair and is the only name I recognized. Sorry, not sorry.
SS: Johnny Peralta – STL
Why not? I don’t know anyone else.
3B: Luis Valbuena – CHC
C: Wilson Ramos – WAS
OF: Ryan Braun – MIL, Michael Cuddyer – COL, Carlos Gomez – MIL
Cuddyer is one of the nicest, most genuine guys playing the game, and even though he’s hurt, I have to vote for him. Go-Go gets my vote because he’s having an outstanding season and is a former Twin. Finally, Braun is a member of the tribe, us Jews have to stick together.
Dan Cook’s Ballot
I admit it, I’m a stat-geek.
I love the fact that while baseball lags behind other sports in so many areas, the one area it’s absolutely led the way in, is advanced metrics.
Yes, there’s always room for the eye-test, but the beauty of sabermetrics is that you can double-check said eye-test and either have it confirmed through statistical analysis, or have it contradicted, which gives you the opportunity to go back and reassess what it is you thought you saw.
With that in mind, here’s my approach to constructing an All-Star ballot.
First I use Wins Above Replacement, WAR, to winnow down the field to three-five players at each position. No, WAR isn’t the end-all, be-all of baseball statistics, but it is the most all-encompassing one we have.
And, therefore, a good place to start.
Once I’ve done that, I break down players by offense, usually OPS – a denominator-challenged stat to be sure, but still useful, defense, dWAR and UZR are helpful numbers, and base-running. Stolen bases isn’t totally determinative – especially depending on position – but if there’s a large disparity between players, then that tells you a little something.
Notice I’m not using Batting Average, though that’s nominally incorporated into OPS, I’m definitely not using RBI, which is an entirely too team-dependent statistic for me to use it in an evaluation of an individual player. I’m also not using home runs. Use that to determine who’s in the Derby, fine, but it’s not going to get you into my All-Star game.
With that, here’s my ballot:
1B: Edwin Encarnacion – TOR
My one write-in vote. It’s a shame the ballots aren’t more flexible. Clearly no one saw his huge year coming, but it’s undeniable he’s deserving.
2B: Jose Altuve – HOU
He and Ian Kinsler are neck-and-neck, but I gave the nod to the youngster and his 20-plus stolen bases.
SS: Alexi Ramirez – CWS
As much as it pains me to vote for a South-Sider, his numbers, especially base-running and defense, stand well apart from the rest of the pack.
3B: Josh Donaldson – OAK
This one’s a slam-dunk. Donaldson’s having a MVP-like first half, and the rest of the contenders aren’t close.
C: Salvador Perez – KC
Cleveland’s Yan Gomes has numbers almost identical to Perez, but Perez has a stolen base and Gomes doesn’t. I guess that’s a tie-breaker? Also, anybody but A.J.
DH: Victor Martinez – DET
This came down to V-Mart and Nelson Cruz. Cruz has slightly better numbers, but Martinez has never failed a drug-test. Advantage, Victor.
OF: Jose Bautista – TOR, Alex Gordon – KC, Mike Trout – LAA
Bautista may break both video boards at Target Field, and that’s worth the price of admission alone. Gordon’s a solid player, deserving of recognition. And Mike Trout’s simply the best player in baseball, churning out yet another MVP-worthy season.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt – ARZ
Though his team’s having a nightmare year, last-year’s NL MVP runner-up is once again putting up big numbers, and is even throwing in some value on the base-paths!
2B: Chase Utley – PHI
Great players don’t die, they just keep plugging away on lousy teams because they’re too loyal to ask for a trade. Or something like that.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki – COL
Talk about your MVP-worthy first halves! I don’t know if Tulo’s capable of staying healthy all year, but given how well he’s played so far, I’d love to see how his numbers finish if he can.
3B: Nolan Arenado – COL
Though he’s cooled a touch after a torrid start, he still leads the pack at third in OPS and defensive metrics.
C: Jonathan Lucroy – MIL
First thought: this is Yadier Molina’s spot to lose. Second thought: Lucroy has a better WAR, OPS and dWAR. He gets the nod.
OF: A.J. Pollock – ARZ, Yasiel Puig – LAD, Giancarlo Stanton – MIA
Pollock has a higher OPS than teammate, and fellow vote-getter, Goldschmidt. Puig frustrates the hell out of me sometimes but is undeniably a joy to watch hit. And Stanton is the best player you may not have heard of because he plays for an owner only slightly less odious than Donald Sterling.
So there you have it. Three different ballots. Three different approaches. And ultimately, none of them are “wrong”, because it’s an exhibition game.
Fans get to vote however they like and the truth of the matter is, the sheer volume of the voting usually ensures that the right players get there anyway. And if the “right players” don’t get there via the fan votes, the managers can always add them as a reserve.
So head to MLB.com and cast your vote before July 3!
Or if you’re feeling “old school”, head on out to Target Field, grab a paper ballot, and punch those holes for your favorite players.
The point is to enjoy the process, enjoy the discussion and debate, and enjoy the fact that we get to play a part in the best All-Star Game in all of sports!