Here at Call to the Pen, we’re not about bashing the system of selecting players for the MLB All-Star Game, for the time being anyway (though it certainly could use an overhaul). If you are looking for places to read about that, I’m sure you won’t have any problem scratching that itch with a simple Google search. For the most part, we simply enjoy watching some of the best players in MLB face off in an exhibition. Along those lines, we take the game and the selection process for what it is. This year 68 players will be on the active rosters for the game, and it is time to start talking about who deserves to make this year’s American and National League squads.
To kick off that very topic, I asked all our MLB Lead Writers on staff here at FanSided an All-Star related question to use as the basis for our collaborative effort this month.
Taking into account only the 2010 season, which player on the team you cover is most deserving of making the 2010 MLB All-Star roster and why?
Writers were advised that they could take their selection and explanation in any direction they wanted to.
Just like last month’s collaborative effort, the June edition has been split into two separate articles. Part I (which you are currently reading) covers the American League. Part II will appear tomorrow and cover the National League.
(Responses after the jump)
Not many good things have come the Orioles’ way so far in 2010; but, one man has stood out amongst the crowd.
Every year a member from each team must be represented in the MLB All-Star Game, and this year, the only O’s player who even sort of deserves a nod is 1B/3B/2B/DH Ty Wigginton. This season Wigginton has batted 0.273 with 13 HR, 38 RBI and 26 R in 220 AB, which are astounding numbers for a super-utility player on an offensively challenged team.
These numbers, though, do not tell the true story.
Stemming from Opening Week, Oriole fans had little to cheer about. First, the team lost two-of-three in its first series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Next, superstar second baseman Brian Roberts went to the disabled list with an apparent back injury, and he has yet to return to the leadoff spot in the lineup.
With their star middle-infielder down for the last few months, someone in the locker-room had to step up his ability and performance in order to give Oriole fans any hope of survival in what appeared to be a desperate situation in Baltimore.
And so Wigginton did, manning the position of second base in Roberts’ absence. Not only that, he has also filled in as a corner infielder, and on occasion, as the DH. A man once known as a super-utility player was called upon when the team needed him the most. He stepped to the plate, gave it all he had, and has not disappointed. It is not Wiggy’s fault that the O’s are mired in a disastrous season, and one can only imagine what it would be like without his presence.
For that, Wigginton deserves a slot in the All-Star game. He gave O’s fans something to be proud of this season. Honestly, that’s saying a lot.
After throwing a no-hitter in 2007, Clay Buchholz has been a guy with great stuff, but was missing a strong mental attitude and focus on the mound. After struggling in 2008 and half of 2009, Buchholz has been the MVP of the Red Sox to this point in the season and deserves an All-Star nod. His 9-4 record and 2.67 ERA have put him atop the rotation as the team’s ace. Buchholz has been the most consistent starter in 2010 for the Sox, going deep into ball games (7+ innings 5 times) and getting the job done when the bullpen has needed rest. The most impressive piece of his game has been his composure. He has found the way to overcome bad innings and not let bad pitches affect his mental state.
*Southside Showdown is still in need of a lead writer so Jordan Campbell from Cubbies Crib agreed to pinch hit for us.
Looking at the White Sox it is hard to pick out an All-Star considering many of their players are playing below expectations. But one player that has been all the White Sox have asked for and then some is reliever Sergio Santos. Now, it is incredibly difficult for a reliever to make the All-Star team, but in Santos’ case, his story is remarkable. He was a shortstop in the Sox organization and then transitioned to a reliever role this off-season. So far he has been lights out in the bullpen with a 1.66 ERA and 28 strikeouts. He has been one of the rare bright spots on a disappointing White Sox team.
If you had asked me at the end of April who the Indians’ All-Star should be, I wouldn’t have even looked at you, and would have simply said, “Shin-Soo Choo.” But Choo really fell off in May and that has opened the door for a guy who some people believed (ahem, me) would be nothing more than an afterthought on this 2010 Indians team: Mitch Talbot. He has a 3.59 ERA and doesn’t lead the team in any major pitching categories (other than those silly wins) but has been a great competitor and a great story. Talbot has gone from having to make the rotation out of spring training to being perhaps the most consistent starter on this wildly inconsistent Tribe team. Fausto Carmona’s stats may be better, but Talbot’s numbers are close, and therefore he’s the guy I want to see in Anaheim.
The easy choice for the Detroit Tigers is that of Triple-Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera. Never one to take the easy route, my selection is Magglio Ordonez. Maggs is hitting again this year after a very disappointing 2009. Though he did hit 0.310 last season, he did so with just 9 home runs and 50 batted in. This season Ordonez is 4th among AL outfielders with 42 RBI and already has slugged eight home runs. Put that together with his 0.324 BA and 0.403 OBP and you have a powerhouse in the middle of the order. In addition to his rebound at the dish, Maggs is playing better defense than he has in years, scoring a UZR of 5.1 runs above average this season. It would be easy to forget what kind of player he was just two or three years ago after his 2009 campaign, but this season Ordonez is reminding everyone that he’s not quite done yet.
I know I’m supposed to choose Billy Butler here. After Sunday’s game, the 24-year old first baseman was hitting 0.341 with six homers and 36 RBI. And that’s AFTER a 6-33 stretch that saw his average go from .348 on May 30 to a mere .319 on June 11 before busting out for 10 hits in 14 at-bats in his last three games, driving in 5 runs. He’s certainly deserving…
However, take a look at this player’s batting line in comparison with Butler’s (again, through Sunday’s game):
Player A: 0.318/.394/.479/.873 with 5 HR, 30 RBI
Butler: 0.341/.396/.494/.890 with 6 HR, 36 RBI
Player A is much-overlooked outfielder David DeJesus. Add in an errorless season in his first season in right field, and I say DeJesus has more than earned an All-Star nod in 2010. At the end of May, he missed two games due to the birth of his first child. Since the calendar turned to June, DeJesus has put up a dynamite line of .429/.482/.592/1.074 over 56 plate appearances. It’s a small sample size, sure, but on May 23, before David Jr. came along, he had a season line of .272/.354/.428/.782. Perfectly respectable and I’d suggest he’s more than earned a shot to hit the national stage in the All-Star Game.
Unfortunately, a question like this is hard to answer for two reasons. The first is that the Angels as a team have struggled. Guys are not repeating career years. Guys that were expected to break out at the Major League level have not. Others are simply inconsistent or playing below their ability. As such, not a single full-time player on their roster has a WAR above 2.3. Compared to last year’s team, they’d rank even with Howie Kendrick, and well below Napoli, Abreu, Izturis, Rivera, Aybar, Hunter, Morales, and Figgins. Chone Figgins, in fact, led the entire team in WAR last season with a 6.1. The fact that no hitter on the team, active or not, is above a 2.0 at this moment seems to me an accurate illustration of the struggles this team has had.
The second reason is that the most likely person to be named an All-Star on this team, 1B Kendry Morales, is now out for the season because of the freak injury-while-celebrating-a-walk-off-grand-slam incident. Even before that he was third on the team in WAR, but trailed only Hunter in wOBA (for players with at least 100 PA). Morales is obviously a big part of the Angels’ offense, and we may end up seeing serious offensive struggles as this season wears on without him. Because of his injury, the list of Angels’ All-Stars is basically down to two names: CF Torii Hunter and starter Jered Weaver.
Both Weaver and Hunter are about even in terms of WAR (2.3 and 2.0, respectively). Both have had their bad moments this season (Hunter’s .228/.301/.402 line in May, Weaver’s 4.42 ERA over his last six starts), but both are still the strongest two players on the team. Whether either is truly deserving of being an All-Star is another matter entirely, but since every team has to be represented (and I have a feeling the Angels’ representation at their home park will be a sad one this season), these are the only two truly worth any kind of All-Star appearance.
While the Twins’ best player is no doubt Joe Mauer, the Twins best player in 2010 so far has been Justin Morneau. Indeed, Morneau has been the best player in all of baseball this year, as his 4.0 WAR is tops in all of baseball. In fact, his WAR right now is the exact same as it was in 2006 when he won the AL MVP. And rather than being just a slugger, Morneau has been doing it across the board: His OBP was flirting with a Bondsian 0.500, he has a 17.3% walk rate, and is second in the majors with a 0.344 average. Not that he hasn’t been slugging though: his slugging percentage is 0.624 and more telling of his power his ISO is 0.280. He has also been getting it done defensively with a +6.4 UZR thus far. Morneau has commanded so much respect this year that in a June 5th game against the A’s, in which he was supposed to sit out because he had the flu, Morneau pinch hit in the 8th inning and was intentionally walked with the bases empty. Whether it’s because he is Canadian or because of his love of hockey (probably both), Morneau has been the best player in the majors so far.
Although you could make a case for many, there is only one Yankee that hands down deserves to be an All-Star this year.
Robbie Cano, don’t cha know?
This is a guy who is leading the majors in hits (93) and batting average (.368), and ranks among the top five in MLB in OBP (.414), SLG (.609) and runs (51). He has been raking all year, carrying an eight-game hitting streak through Tuesday’s action. In fact, through 64 games in 2010 RBInson has failed to finagle a hit in just 12 of them. Since going 0-for-10 against the Blue Jays on June 4th and 5th, Cano has gone 14-for-31 with five walks, one homer and four RBI in eight games. The two aforementioned hitless games are the only ones in the past 26 in which he’s failed to get a base knock.
And to think some people called him lazy.
There are a few players well-deserving of the All-Star nod, but one player that really sticks out for me is C Kurt Suzuki. If it were up to me, I’d send Suzuki and Ryan Sweeney as the A’s representatives for the mid-summer classic. But if I had to pick only one player, Suzuki would be the guy.
The A’s catcher has not received much love this season, as he’s not even in the top five in voting for catchers in the AL. Joe Mauer, of course, receives much of the attention. And while Mauer is a freak-of-nature, Suzuki deserves some attention from voters in his own right. The All-Star voting process is like a popularity contest, and rather than choosing the best players, voters often choose their favorite players (despite their stats). This season, Suzuki is hitting 0.273/.331/.472 with a team leading 8 home runs. He’s also driven in 29 runs for Oakland. In comparison, Mauer is hitting 0.316/.393/.445 with 2 home runs and 28 RBIs.
While Suzuki’s numbers aren’t exactly Mauer-like, he’s still deserving of an All-Star nod. If Joe Mauer were in the National League, I’d bet that Suzuki would garner a little more attention in the American League. Suzuki has been the A’s best offensive presence in their lineup, and his value to the team is exceedingly high.
Suzuki has the potential to hit 15-20 home runs a season, and will have an average in the .270’s-.280’s. Last season, the A’s backstop hit 15 homers and drove in a team-leading 88 RBIs. This season, the A’s are seeing Suzuki emerge as a top three catcher in the American League. Suzuki, a Cal-State Fullerton native, is deserving of an All-Star nod and is deserving of more national attention. So A’s fans, go out and vote and support Suzuki!
The Mariners All-Star up to this point in the season has certainly been Cliff Lee. He’s already been worth 3 WAR in only 9 games, and has been one of the few reasons to tune in to a generally unwatchable 2010 Mariners team. His 3.02 xFIP is the 2nd best in baseball, and his 15 K/BB is absolutely unreal. He’s been absolutely fantastic, and it’s a shame he won’t be around beyond this season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Rayhawk Review lead writer Justin Klein
I would have to say Evan Longoria is hands down the most deserving player on the Tampa Bay Rays to join the AL All-Star team in 2010. An All-Star is a player that provides fear in the opposing team’s eye, and Evan definitely fills that role. Longo is batting 0.321 with 12 home runs, and 51 runs batted in. He leads all third baseman in doubles (22) and RBI (51), is 5th in home runs (12), 2nd in stolen bases (10), and 2nd in slugging percentage (0.594). So, as you can tell by these stats, Longoria is by far the best third baseman in the game, and will without a doubt, be the starting third baseman for the AL All-Star team in 2010.
Out of the entire Rangers roster, I believe that Nelson Cruz deserves the All-Star nod. Unfortunately he has been bit hard by the injury bug so far this season. Due to that his case for an All-Star selection is decreasing with every vote count update. In 32 games this season he has hit 0.327 with 10 HR and 34 RBI.
Other candidates which I feel could end up seeing the All-Star game are either Josh Hamilton or reliever Neftali Feliz. Hamilton has hit 0.313 with 15 HR and 47 RBI. He is most likely going to see his third All-Star game in three years. Feliz has excelled since stepping into the closer role, he has saved 16 games in 18 opportunities with a 3.18 ERA. Unfortunately, relievers have a tougher road to earn the opportunity to appear in the All-Star game. So, it looks like Hamilton will be representing the Rangers in Anaheim next month.
The Jays have made themselves notorious for hitting with plenty of power, but the “other” stats that their power hitters hold are not as attractive as should be expected from an All-Star. Also, the loss of Doc Halladay this season meant that someone had to step up and lead this extremely young and talent pitching staff. Therefore, Shaun Marcum (6-3, 3.31 ERA) is far and away the #1 All-Star candidate the Jays should be sending to the game this summer. Not only did he return after sitting out all of 2009 with an injured arm, but he returned in a form that resembles anything Doc Halladay provided them in all of his years with the Jays. He has led the staff by example and has taken Ricky Romero along for the ride – another very worthy candidate, but one I place a notch below Marcum simply due to the remarkable feat of overcoming injury so seamlessly and with such dominance. In my opinion, both have been ace caliber pitchers all season long and each deserves the nomination, but I’ll put Shaun Marcum up as the Jays All-Star.
Topics: American League, Billy Butler, Clay Buchholz, Cliff Lee, David DeJesus, Evan Longoria, Jered Weaver, Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau, Kurt Suzuki, Magglio Ordonez, Mitch Talbot, MLB, Neftali Feliz, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Sergio Santos, Shaun Marcum, Torii Hunter, Ty Wigginton