The All-Star Game. The Midsummer Classic. The inane deciding factor in home-field advantage for the World Series. A rose by any other name would smell as ... well, you get the point. There is little reason to describe the All-Star Game - everyone that watches baseball (or most any other sport) is fully familiar with the pomp and circumstance it entails. It's a tradition, and fandom and tradition go hand-in-hand. And, for some, it's one of the best traditions around; a means to see players that you would otherwise have trouble seeing. For me (and many fans like me, I suspect), that is certainly rewarding in its own way. Seeing so many great players on the same field is a feeling that I will never quite get used to. All that being said, I find the tradition of second-guessing the All-Star teams to be far more rewarding.
With that in mind, I present to you my All-Star ballot. But first, two notes for your consideration:
- This is based solely on this season, as a means for me to be as objective as possible. In the event that it was close, I did turn to the subjective (past performance, how much I enjoy watching them play, etc.);
- I added a DH slot to the National League to reward the best hitter that did not otherwise make the cut;
- Even though we do not vote on pitchers, I added a starter for each league - it only seemed fair.
Without further ado, let's begin.
American League C - Stephen Vogt - .295/.387/.516, 13 HR, 0 SB, 151 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR 1B - Miguel Cabrera - .344/.448/.575, 15 HR, 1 SB, 180 wRC+, 3.4 fWAR 2B - Jason Kipnis - .346/.420/.516, 6 HR, 10 SB, 165 wRC+, 4.7 fWAR 3B - Manny Machado - .303/.358/.526, 16 HR, 11 SB, 144 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR SS - Jose Iglesias - .320/.372/.378, 1 HR, 9 SB, 111 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR LF - Brett Gardner - .304/.373/.495, 9 HR, 15 SB, 142 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR CF - Mike Trout - .303/.393/.590, 21 HR, 9 SB, 173 wRC+, 4.5 fWAR RF - Jose Bautista - .241/.385/.510, 16 HR, 3 SB, 146 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR DH - Alex Rodriguez - .280/.381/.506, 15 HR, 1 SB, 145 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR SP - Chris Sale - 103.1 IP, 12.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 2.87 ERA, 2.09 FIP, 3.7 fWAR
A few quick thoughts:
- Machado over Josh Donaldson was the most difficult decision - I almost flipped a coin ... instead, I went with the guy who plays better (in my eyes) defense;
- Shortstop is awful in the AL. It was either Iglesias and his empty .320, or Xander Bogaerts and his league-average everything;
- Prince Fielder isn't on the ballot as a DH, otherwise Rodriguez may not have made the cut - Fielder's been a bit better with the bat overall (though it is BABIP-driven, as Rodriguez is taking more walks and hitting for more power). And, since folk are asking, I took Rodriguez over Nelson Cruz as Cruz has played 59% of his games in RF - and I took Bautista over him in a toss-up;
- Gardner over Alex Gordon became an easier choice as the season wore on, as Gardner has been white hot with the bat for the better part of a month;
- No other Yankees merited much consideration (to no one's surprise, I'm sure). Brian McCann is probably the third-best catcher in the AL, though.
National League C - Buster Posey - .304/.379/.487, 12 HR, 1 SB, 146 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR 1B - Paul Goldschmidt - .350/.466/.632, 20 HR, 15 SB, 191 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR 2B - Dee Gordon - .350/.369/.433, 1 HR, 26 SB, 120 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR 3B - Todd Frazier - .283/.344/.606, 25 HR, 8 SB, 158 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR SS - Brandon Crawford - .270/.348/.478, 11 HR, 4 SB, 133 wRC+, 2.9 fWAR LF - Justin Upton - .266/.348/.453, 14 HR, 15 SB, 126 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR CF - Joc Pederson - .243/.383/.525, 20 HR, 2 SB, 154 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR RF - Bryce Harper - .340/.464/.709, 24 HR, 3 SB, 216 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR DH - Giancarlo Stanton - .265/.346/.606, 27 HR, 4 SB, 155 wRC+, 3.7 fWAR SP - Max Scherzer - 110.1 IP, 10.6 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 1.79 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 4.2 fWAR
And some thoughts:
- As was the case in the AL, third base was a tough call - Nolan Arenado may be the best defensive player this side of Andrelton Simmons, and he's improved dramatically as a hitter. Frazier has just been a tick better, I think;
- Goldschmidt has kind of quietly become one of the two or three best hitters in the game over the last fifteen months or so. It's a shame he's stuck in such a poor organization;
- Pederson over Andrew McCutchen was a difficult decision. Pederson has been better by a not-insignificant margin, but McCutchen is one of my favorite people in the game - and a great ambassador for the sport;
- Harper has been unreal this season - Stanton is having an MVP-caliber season, and he isn't even close to Harper overall.