Filling Out My All-Star Ballot

With July 13 quickly approaching, members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance are filling out their All-Star ballots. Here are my picks.

National League

Catcher: Miguel Olivo, Colorado Rockies

Going into 2010, Olivo’s career-high in on-base percentage was .263, set in ’06 with the Florida Marlins. His OBP currently sits at .368 and his SLG is also at a career-high .529. His BABIP is about 75 points above his career average but his success isn’t simply luck. He has somehow learned plate discipline as his walk rate of 9.3 percent is more than double his career average of 4.1 percent. Additionally, his ISO is actually lower than it was last year thanks to a 21.8 percent line drive rate, his highest since ’03.

Olivo has also been a defensive stalwart, nailing a whopping 53 percent of base-stealers. The only catcher in Olivo’s statosphere in this area is Yadier Molina, who has caught 51.5 percent.

Back-ups: Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves; Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres

Both Gonzalez and Albert Pujols have an incredible .404 wOBA, but I am going with Gonzalez because he needs some publicity and he has meant more to the Padres than Pujols has to his St. Louis Cardinals. Gonzalez’s 3.2 WAR makes up 29 percent of the Padres’ 11.0 WAR while Pujols’ 2.4 WAR makes up 20.7 percent of the Cardinals’ 11.6 WAR. Gonzalez has more WAR than Pujols due to better defense, but 600 defensive innings isn’t a big sample size for UZR.

Back-ups: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals; Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

Second Base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

Despite his prolonged slump, Utley still sits atop the WAR leaderboard for second basemen thanks to defense that rarely if ever slumps. FanGraphs credits him with 7.2 defensive runs. Only two other fielders come close to him: David Eckstein and Jeff Baker, and both have hurt their teams offensively. Utley’s .378 wOBA is second only to Kelly Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Few players not only at second base but at any position can combine elite offense with elite defense. Utley is one of those rare players.

Back-ups: Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves; Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

Zim is a lot like Utley at third base: he is an elite offensive threat and he can absolutely pick it at the hot corner. He is far and away the best defender at third base this year according to UZR (small sample size caveat). That is not a fluke as he led qualified third basemen in UZR last year, and come in second in 2008 and ’07 (trailing Pedro Feliz both years). His .383 wOBA is second-best among third basemen behind Scott Rolen‘s .392.

Back-ups: Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds; David Wright, New York Mets

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (replaced by Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins)

Before getting hit with a pitch that broke his wrist, Tulowitzki had rebounded well from a rough start to the 2010 season. Through his first 38 games, he had hit only one home run and compiled a meager .766 OPS. Between May 20 and June 17, Tulo hit eight homers and his OPS was a sky-high 1.059. He had even swiped four bases in four attempts. Along with his offense, Tulo played above-average defense which helped him climb to the top of the WAR leaderboard for shortstops, even ahead of Hanley Ramirez.

Due to the wrist injury, Tulowitzki will not be able to participate in the All-Star Game festivities, so Han-Ram will take his place.

Back-ups: Juan Uribe, San Francisco Giants; Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers

Outfield: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals; Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs; Andres Torres, San Francisco Giants

Holliday has been part of a very productive Cardinal outfield that includes Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus. He is second among qualified National League outfielders in WAR and his .382 wOBA is excellent. Along with his bat, he brings a hint of speed (six stolen bases in seven attempts) and above-average defense.

Marlon Byrd is having by far the best season of his career. Through 69 games, he is on pace for a 6 WAR season and he may have hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to thank. Byrd worked with Jaramillo when he was with the Texas Rangers from 2007-09 and they reunited in Chicago this season. Between 2002 and ’06, Byrd compiled only one good offensive season thanks in large part to a .360 BABIP. In his three years with the Rangers, Byrd hit 40 home runs and his isolated power jumped to career highs. And, like Holliday, Byrd plays great defense to add to his offensive potency.

Andres Torres may have figured this baseball thing out. Between 1998-2009, Torres racked up nearly 4,400 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues, spending time with affiliates of the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, the Tigers again, the Chicago Cubs and finally the San Francisco Giants. He was called up several times between ’02-05 but was never able to accomplish much. The Giants gave him a shot last year and he made the most of it, hitting for a .379 wOBA and playing great defense in the outfield. He has repeated that in ’10 with the same exact wOBA and similarly great defense.

Back-ups: Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals; Angel Pagan, New York Mets; Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Starting Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies

Is there any other choice? Despite trailing Roy Halladay and others in ERA retrodictors like xFIP and SIERA, there is no denying Jimenez’s dominance over the first half of the baseball season. Even those of us who use Sabermetrics stand in awe of his 13-1 record and 1.15 ERA through 14 starts.

Back-ups: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies; Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals; Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants; Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals; Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Closer: Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Broxton has a Cliff Lee-esque 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is averaging one and a half strikeouts per inning and fewer than one walk per nine innings. He has a 0.92 ERA and has converted 15 consecutive saves. There are no closers in baseball that have approached Broxton’s level of dominance.

Back-ups: Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves; Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres; Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs; Arthur Rhodes; Cincinnati Reds

Representative count: Astros (0); Braves (3); Brewers (0); Cardinals (5); Cubs (3); Diamondbacks (1); Dodgers (2); Giants (3); Marlins (1); Mets (2); Nationals (3); Padres (2); Phillies (2); Pirates (1); Reds (3); Rockies (3)

American League

Catcher: Jorge Posada, New York Yankees

He turns 39 in mid-August but he looks like he has at least ten more years left the way he has been hitting. Posada’s .411 wOBA is eight-best in the American League and best among catchers. He does not thwart the running game well, but none of his competitors are much better — certainly not enough to close the chasm in offense between Posada and the rest.

Back-ups: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins; Victor Martinez, Boston Red Sox

First Base: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Not only has Morneau been by far the best hitter at first base, but he has also been the best fielder. His .452 wOBA is exquisite and his 18.4 UZR/150 is to die for. He has been as valuable as Miguel Cabrera (2.6 WAR) and Paul Konerko (1.7 WAR) combined.

Back-ups: Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox; Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

Who else could it have been? 4.4 WAR, .436 wOBA, and a 10.1 UZR/150. No one else comes close to Cano.

Back-ups: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox; Orlando Hudson, Minnesota Twins

Third Base: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

Finally, a close race. It was a toss-up between Longoria and Adrian Beltre. Beltre does not have quite the offensive numbers as Longoria (trails by .010 in wOBA) but has played better defense according to the metrics on FanGraphs (12.9 to 2.2 in UZR/150). Given the uncertainty surrounding defensive data in small sample sizes, the edge went to Longoria.

Back-ups: Adrian Beltre, Boston Red Sox; Michael Young, Texas Rangers

Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez, Toronto Blue Jays

Shortstop in the American League is a very shallow position. Alex Gonzalez leads the pack with a “meh” .347 wOBA.

Back-ups: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees; Marco Scutaro, Boston Red Sox

Outfield: Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays; Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox; Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

Crawford, with free agency in sight, is having a career year. His on-base and slugging percentages (and subsequently wOBA) are at career highs and he may even shatter his career best in stolen bases set last year (60). Add in his normally excellent defense and you have a hell of a player ready to collect an eight-figure contract during the off-season.

Think the Blue Jays gave up too early on Alex Rios? Like Crawford, he is setting career highs in OBP, SLG, wOBA, and potentially stolen bases as well. He has also played above-average defense and as such will likely set a new high in WAR as well.

Welcome back, Josh Hamilton. He struggled last year with injuries but has rebounded nicely in 2010. His .600 SLG is impressive and is also on pace to set some career highs in HR, SLG, wOBA, and WAR so long as he stays healthy.

Back-ups: Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners; Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers; Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians; Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners

Lee barely edged out Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins. His ERA is about a half-run better despite having a nearly identical SIERA (2.94 to 2.95). Along with three complete games and one shut-out, Lee’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is a godly 17-to-1.

Back-ups: Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins; Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox; Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays; Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers

Closer: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Who else?

Back-ups: Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays; Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers; Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics; Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers

Representative count: Angels (1); Athletics (1); Blue Jays (3); Indians (1); Mariners (2); Orioles (0); Rangers (4); Rays (4); Red Sox (6); Royals (0); Tigers (3); Twins (4); White Sox (1); Yankees (4)

Of the 34 All-Stars, 17 come from the AL East. No surprise, since that division is home to the top-three best teams in the league.

Feel free to comment below with your All-Star rosters or your thoughts on my rosters.

Leave a Reply

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19 comments

  1. Dave

    June 21, 2010 08:02 PM

    The fact that you left Jason Heyward and Ryan Braun off entirely means that you’re not looking at the numbers as closely as you ought to be.

  2. Will

    June 21, 2010 08:14 PM

    Ummmmm Posada has been on the DL for quite a while. Also Stephen Strasburg? Hey he will be great but he has made three starts? And no Pelfrey?

  3. Mark

    June 21, 2010 08:19 PM

    Great job putting this list together Bill. I actually disagree with Dave. I think Braun and Heyward have really struggled lately and that their candidacy should not be guaranteed – aothough the voters are speaking for Heyward.

    I think Strasburg should be there as far as the fans go and promoting the game, but I don’ think after three starts he deserves it. What about David Price and Clay Buchholz in the AL?

  4. Bill Baer

    June 21, 2010 08:29 PM

    Dave,

    Braun’s defense isn’t up to snuff which is why he’s only been worth one win above replacement while the others on the list have been worth about two or more.

    I debated putting Heyward on the list over Pagan, but Pagan’s base running gave him the edge. Pagan has been four times more valuable on the bases according to Equivalent Base Running Runs (EQBRR) from Baseball Prospectus.

    Will,

    Posada has been playing since June 2. He missed about two weeks with a fracture in his right foot but has since rebounded.

    I can understand disagreement with the Strasburg selection but we haven’t seen this kind of dominance out of a rookie since Roger Clemens in 1986. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than Roy Halladay’s!

    Aside from Strasburg, who else would Pelfrey replace on my list? He’s had a good season but he doesn’t beat Jimenez, Halladay, Wainwright, Johnson, Cain, or Garcia.

  5. rob

    June 22, 2010 07:34 AM

    As a fantasy owner of Olivo, I know things. Let’s break him down a little more…

    Home:
    25 Games
    AVG .418 OBP .444 SLG .758

    Away:
    24 Games
    AVG .173 OBP .287 SLG .272

    Unless they suddenly decide to move the All Star game to Coors Field, he’s definitely not my pick.

  6. MikeC

    June 22, 2010 09:40 AM

    I’ll be curious to see if Manuel rewards his underperforming players.

  7. Shooter-B

    June 22, 2010 03:07 PM

    Evan Meek, because it isn’t very often that a Pirates’ pitcher has a chance to make the All-Star team.

  8. E

    June 22, 2010 04:48 PM

    I’ll take Suzuki over Posada.

    Also, I’ll take Votto over all the other 1b. I’m biased, his story was pretty amazing, but he’s been nothing short of a top tier MVP candidate.

    Also, gotta think Rasmus should get some serious consideration.

  9. Bill Baer

    June 22, 2010 04:50 PM

    Yeah, maybe I should I have given Rasmus the nod over Ludwick. A lot of Ludwick’s value comes from defense and I should have been consistent with my skepticism of UZR in small samples.

  10. GG

    June 22, 2010 11:13 PM

    What about those unrepresented teams, everyone needs to bring someone.

    KC-Soria, 16 Saves, 11+K/9IP 2.81 ERA

    Baltimore-Wigginton at 2B for Hudson? Slim pickings

    Houston-What a bad team, sympathy for Oswalt? Showcase him for a trade 12/15 quality starts 5-9 record ouch!

    Brewers-Hart Leads NL in HR

    Remember just trying to find the best player on these poor teams, so your current picks will get snubbed.

  11. Velvet Canuck

    June 23, 2010 07:24 AM

    No DH? Vlad wants a hit!

  12. GrandSlamSingle

    June 23, 2010 02:56 PM

    I was going to mention the DH too.

    It would be hilarious if Burrell were voted in at DH and wore his Giants uni.

  13. Steve

    June 25, 2010 02:30 AM

    I’ve never read this blog before. Now I know why. How are you affiliated with ESPN, It is a bunch of crap. Fans don’t vote for all-stars based on defense, unless you are Ozzie Smith. Not having Braun and Heyward on there is a joke. They are the two best outfielders in the NL, and guys the fans wanna see. Matt Holliday has stunk all year, besides the last week. I love Colby Rasmus, but he is not an all-star. Yet. Andres Torres? Are you kidding me? He is one of about 7 guys that have played outfiled for the Giants this year. No one from the Giants offense deserves to make it. Maybe Posey in the future. Rafael Furcal? Has he even played yet this year? he is always on the dl for some “injury” or problem. Angel Pagan has been awesome, but he is no all-star. He may not even be a starter for very much longer. Stop with your WAR numbers and your BABip, and look at who the best players are the the players the fans wanna see.

  14. Dave

    June 25, 2010 09:12 AM

    Bill,

    I’m the same Dave who made the first comment re: Braun and Heyward. Due to Braun’s lousy defense (which I had neglected to look up) and Heyward’s recent awful slump, it appears you were right and I was wrong. My apologies.

  15. EK

    June 25, 2010 10:46 AM

    Curious how Steve proposes we “look at who the best players are” if we don’t look at a player’s performance by the numbers. Do we just gasp at a really long home run or a nice slide into second on a stolen base?

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