Call to the Pen All-Star starters

On Tuesday, July 13th the 81st All-Star Game in major league history will be played in Anaheim.  Today, we reveal the 2010 Call to the Pen All-Star starters as voted on by our staff of nine writers.  Justin, John, Brian, Nathaniel, Michael, Ryne, Jordan, Mat, and myself each voted on our top 3 players at each position and awarded points based on our ranking.  A first place vote was therefore worth 3 points and a third place vote was worth 1 point.  When all the votes were cast and counted we had our starters set and today we reveal them to the world with some explanation or justification* of why they are on the team (check them out after the jump).

*Stats referenced are mostly from Baseball Reference with WAR numbers and rankings taken from Fan Graphs .

Before we start the rundown, a few additional notes.  First, the number in parenthesis is the number of points the player received.  A total of 27 means the player was ranked first on all 9 of our ballots.  Second, we voted on positions a little differently than you will see elsewhere.  We did the standard rundown of C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and DH.  When we got to the outfield, we voted on them by actual position instead of lumping them all together so our voting broke it down to LF, CF, and RF instead of selecting 3 OF for each league.  Third, we voted on a SP and a RP for each league as well.  Fourth, we did our ballots a couple weeks ago so while some things might change if we recast votes today, we’re going to stick with what we have.  Finally, since Call to the Pen is also a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, the below counts as our ballot for the BBA All-Star voting.  Now let’s get to the rosters.

American League:

C-Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (26 points)

1.9 WAR, 0.309/.387/.445 with a 125 OPS+, 21 2B and 105 TB in 269 PA

Thus far, Mauer has failed to live up to the standard he set last year, but he is still the best catcher in all of baseball and is having a fine season.  He easily beat out Victor Martinez (15) to earn the starting nod for the AL while his WAR is just a tick above V-Mart’s 1.8.

1B-Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins (25)

4.5 WAR, 0.347/.450/.621 with a 187 OPS+, 21 2B, 15 HR and 154 TB in 298 PA

Morneau is currently leading all of baseball in WAR, OPS, OPS+ and OBP.  He leads the AL in BB and IBB but he’s not just a offensive player.  On the defensive side of things, his 18.4 UZR/150 is the best mark of his career.  Apologies to Miguel Cabrera (15) and Kevin Youkilis (10), who received the other two 1st place votes, but Justin Morneau is on a different level and should have been a unanimous selection.

2B-Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (26)

4.3 WAR, 0.362/.412/.592 with a 172 OPS+, 21 2B, 14 HR and 167 TB in 311 PA

This one really needs no explanation, except perhaps from the one person who didn’t give Cano their 1st place vote.  His 4.3 WAR is the second best in baseball, he leads all of baseball with a 0.362 BA, he is one of the best fielding 2B in the AL (10.1 UZR/150) and there is no one else in his class in the AL.  For posterity, Ty Wigginton finished second in our voting with 9 points.

3B-Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (26)

3.0 WAR, 0.298/.374/.526 with a 140 OPS+, 22 2B, 12 HR, 10 SB and 143 TB in 310 PA

Like Mauer and Cano, Longoria just missed being ranked 1st on all nine ballots.  On the one ballot he was ranked 2nd, Adrian Beltre (13) took the top spot and his slightly better 3.2 WAR suggests that was an “enlightened” act by one of our staff members. WAR aside, I think Longoria was an easy slam dunk here.  I just wish he’d hit more homers to help out my scuffling fantasy team.

SS-Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers (16)

1.4 WAR, 0.282/.368/.327 with a 87 OPS+, 19 SB and 87 TB in 311 PA

Fun fact about the AL shortstops, not a single one has their WAR above 2.0 right now.  Marco Scutaro (1.8) leads the pack with Andrus finishing 4th behind Derek Jeter (1.7) and Alex Gonzalez (1.5).  Jeter just missed and finished second in our voting with 15 points while Gonzalez was 3rd with 11.  Scutaro got very little love from our staff finishing with just 3 points.  Andrus is an exciting player so I don’t have a problem with this selection, especially considering his competition.

LF-Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (23)

3.9 WAR, 0.307/.373/.489 with a 130 OPS+, 16 2B, 26 SB and 132 TB in 305 PA

Crawford earned the starting spot rather comfortably with Josh Hamilton (13) finishing 2nd in our voting.  It actually was a closer race than I anticipated going into this project.  In all of baseball, Crawford trails only Morneau and Cano in WAR, but then I realized that Hamilton’s WAR of 3.3 is tied for 5th.  Yet another case of how preconceived notions are completely worthless, just like pre-season polls in college athletics.

CF-Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays (18)

2.3 WAR, 0.281/.336/.552 with a 138 OPS+, 23 2B, 16 HR and 149 TB in 295 PA

The battle for AL CF came down to Wells and Rios (15).  Interestingly enough both players have recovered from very disappointing 2009 seasons to reestablish themselves.  Rios has the edge in WAR, 3.3 to 2.3, while Wells leads the AL in doubles.  Alex is more of a complete player and whether you use OPS+ or WAR to compare the two, he is having the better season.  Yet, for some reason, I am completely content that Wells was voted our starter.  You can blame Hawk Harrelson.  I can’t stand that guy.

RF-Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (14)

2.7 WAR, 0.338/.392/.438 with a 129 OPS+, 16 2B, 20 SB and 127 TB in 318 PA

RF in the AL was a relatively tight vote but in the end Ichiro won out over Nelson Cruz (10) and Magglio Ordonez (9).  Somewhere in California, my best friend from college is reading this and most likely just shouted Ichiro regardless of his surroundings.  He’s a huge fan and so am I.  Suzuki has led all of baseball in hits 6 of his 9 seasons and has never accumulated less than 206 in any season.  So far in 2010 he’s amassed 98 so he is right on track to run his 200 hit streak to 10 consecutive seasons.  A man who can do that has a spot on our All-Star roster for as long as he wants.  When it comes to WAR, Ichiro is currently just behind Shin-Soo Choo who has put up an impressive under-the-radar 2.8.  Seriously when are people going to take notice of Shin-Soo Choo?  His name is fun to say and he’s one heck of a ball player.

DH-Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Rangers (23)

2.0 WAR, 0.324/.372/.547 with a 141 OPS+, 15 HR and 140 TB in 282 PA

Vladimir leads all DHs in WAR and has already equaled his HR total from last season.  In our voting, David Ortiz finished a distant second with 9 points.  Vlad also has the distinction of being one of my favorite players so he gets extra marks for that.

SP-David Price, Tampa Bay Rays (12)

1.6 WAR, 2.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 1.97 SO/BB and 175 ERA+ in 91.2 IP

As you can tell by his point total, this was some close voting with 11 different AL starters receiving votes.  In the end Price edged out Phil Hughes (10), Fransisco Liriano (9) and Cliff Lee (7) among others.  Some recent struggles have taken a lot of the luster off his nomination and his WAR is now tied for 20th in the AL rankings.  If you are wondering, Lee and Liriano lead AL starters with a 3.7 and 3.6 WAR respectively.

RP-Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers (13)

0.6 WAR, 0.59 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 2.25 SO/BB and 743 ERA+ in 30.1 IP

Based on WAR, Valverde doesn’t belong.  Among AL relievers he is a pretty far down the list and ranked behind guys like Daniel Bard, Jason Berken, and even Robinson Tejeda.  However he has converted 16 of 17 save opportunities, and when you have an ERA at 0.59 and a WHIP under 0.75 you are doing something right and deserving of All-Star consideration.  Another feather in his cap is his nickname, Papa Grande, which I personally think is pretty awesome.  Mariano Rivera finished second in the voting with 11 points. He’s pretty awesome too.

National League:

C-Miguel Olivo, Colorado Rockies (20)

2.7 WAR, 0.300/.363/.533 with a 129 OPS+, 10 HR and 96 TB in 202 PA

The Rockies should send Dayton Moore a Christmas card for screwing up the Royals catching situation.  Moore’s mistake started the events in motion this offseason which led Olivo to Colorado.  Miguel’s stat line above speaks for itself.  Despite playing slightly more than part time, his 2.7 WAR leads all MLB catchers by a fairly wide margin.  No one stands above Olivo right now.  Not Brian McCann (2.0), Joe Mauer (1.9), Victor Martinez (1.8) and Geovany Soto (1.6).  This offseason, the Rockies signed an All-Star caliber player and the Royals signed Jason Kendall who actually has a -0.1 WAR right now.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another example of why it is hard to be a Royals fan.  For the record, Carlos Ruiz finished second in our voting with 11 points.

1B-Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (24)

2.6 WAR, 0.311/.428/.549 with a 161 OPS+, 16 HR, 15 2B and 141 TB in 313 PA

Albert easily won the voting at 1B in the NL with Joey Votto (12) and Adrian Gonzalez (8) a distant 2nd and 3rd respectively. Interestingly enough based on WAR during the 2010 season, Pujols is actually 3rd behind Gonzalez (3.5) and Votto (3.0), but it doesn’t matter.  We’re talking about Albert Pujols who in a “down” year leads the NL in OBP and leads all of baseball in walks.  I’m thinking someone is going to have a huge second half but before he does, he has to start for our NL team at 1B.

2B-Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks (11)

2.2 WAR, 0.263/.366/.500 with a 122 OPS+, 13 HR, 23 2B and 131 TB in 307 PA

A bit of a surprise here as Johnson, whose 2.2 WAR ranks 4th behind Chase Utley (3.0), Martin Prado (2.7), and Brandon Phillips (2.5), gets the nod to be our starter at 2B in the NL.  While Johnson took home the honors, the points were evenly spread with Utley and Prado finishing in a tie for 2nd with 10.  Outside of our selection of Andrus for AL SS, Johnson is easily our most “controversial” selection.

3B-Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (19)

2.9 WAR, 0.286/.380/.524 with a 141 OPS+, 13 HR, 15 2B and 199 TB in 266 PA

Another close vote as just one point separated Zimmerman from Scott Rolen who finished with 18 points.  In the NL WAR rankings at 3B, Ryan is the leader but just by a hair over David Wright (2.8 WAR) who curiously received 7 points in our voting and finished a distant third.  Wright brings more to the table on the offensive side of things, but on the defensive side of the equation Zimmerman has no equal.  His 20.8 UZR/150 at the hot corner laps the rest of his peers in baseball.  Chase Headley and Adrian Beltre are tied for 2nd with a 12.9 UZR/150.

SS-Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (27)

2.6 WAR, 0.306/.375/.502 with a 125 OPS+, 9 HR, 17 2B and 118 TB in 265 PA

Tulo was the only player who received first place votes on all nine of our ballots and easy won the starting spot over Hanley Ramirez who finished 2nd with 15 points.  Tulo recently broke his wrist so Hanley will be the NL SS who actually takes the field for our squad. In terms of WAR our voting got this one right as Troy’s 2.6 WAR is the best in the NL at the position with Hanley, and his 2.5 WAR, right on his heels.

LF-Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (17)

1.1 WAR, 0.306/.367/.495 with a 132 OPS+, 10 HR, 21 2B and 139 TB in 311 PA

Dubbed the Hebrew Hammer, Braun is known for his bat and not his defense.  His “work” with the glove (-22.4 UZR/150) is what holds down his WAR from being among the league leaders at the position.  Braun barely beat out Josh Willingham who received 14 points. In another curious turn of events, Matt Holliday (who leads all NL LFers with a 3.3 WAR) received only 8 points in our voting and finished 3rd.

CF-Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs (16)

3.2 WAR, 0.326/.368/.521 with a 128 OPS+, 9 HR, 25 2B and 139 TB in 288 PA

Another close three-way race.  Byrd captured the starting honors over Andrew McCutchen (14) and Colby Rasmus (12) who each sport a 2.0 WAR currently.  Make no mistake, Marlon was the right choice for the slot.  His 3.2 WAR leads all NL CFers, he leads all of MLB in doubles, and he’s played excellent defense (14.8 UZR/150) this season.  A ton of things have gone wrong for the Cubbies this season, but Byrd has not been one of them.

RF-Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves (15)

2.0 WAR, 0.259/.376/.470 with a 128 OPS+, 11 HR and 116 TB in 295 PA

The J-Hey Kid is our starting RF for the NL having just edged out Andre Ethier (13) and Ryan Ludwick (10) for the honor.  Statistically you can make a case for either of those players, but factoring age and expectations heading into the season, Heyward’s case stands on it’s own merit.  Just 20-years old and the legend continues …

DH-Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds (18)

2.4 WAR, 0.303/.364/.571 with a 146 OPS+, 15 HR and 136 TB in 269 PA

Welcome back to prominence Mr. Rolen.  He lands in the NL DH spot as the top vote getter who didn’t earn a starting spot at their regular position.  Rolen may not play the stellar defense he was known for in his younger days, but he’s certainly found the fountain of youth when it come to his work at the plate.  His 15 HR are the most he has hit in a season since 2006 when he went deep 22 times. Even if he cools off significantly he should have little trouble hitting 8 more which would give him his highest HR total since he hit 34 in 2004.  His 146 OPS+ is the highest mark since that 2004 season when he also won a Gold Glove Award and finished 4th in the NL MVP voting.  Rolen’s OPS+ that year was 157.  There aren’t many players, if any, who are more deserving of this slot based on stats but when you add in his “comeback” there is no question that Scott Rolen should be the NL DH.

SP-Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies (23)

3.3 WAR, 1.60 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 2.64 SO/BB and 281 ERA+ in 107.0 IP

Ubaldo got the bulk of the first place votes and is certainly deserving of the honor.  Among other things he leads all major league starters in ERA+, Wins, W-L%, and ERA.  His WAR is 2nd among NL starters, just behind Roy Halladay’s 3.5 WAR.  When it comes to FIP, Halladay again has the lead 2.80 to Ubaldo’s 2.97.  Not surprisingly, Halladay received 20 points in our voting while no other NL starter received more than 6 points, though Josh Johnson’s recent surge, and 3.2 WAR, would probably fare much better in voting if we redid it today.

RP-Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers (20)

1.8 WAR, 0.89 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 11.0 SO/BB and 440 ERA+ in 30.1 IP

This one was a really easy choice.  Broxton is the best closer in the National League and leads all NL relievers in WAR.  His mark of 1.8 gives him a healthy lead over the trio of Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard, and Brian Wilson who are tied for second with a 1.3 WAR. Clippard finished second in our voting with 7 votes.

We will announce our reserves and complete the 34 man rosters for both the National League and the American League in the coming days.

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Tags: AL East Albert Pujols Carl Crawford David Price Elvis Andrus Evan Longoria Ichiro Suzuki Jason Heyward Joe Mauer Jonathan Broxton Jose Valverde Justin Morneau Kelly Johnson Marlon Byrd Miguel Olivo MLB NL West Robinson Cano Ryan Braun Ryan Zimmerman Scott Rolen Troy Tulowitzki Ubaldo Jimenez Vernon Wells Vladimir Guerrero

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