Yesterday afternoon, Major League Baseball decided to release the early standings for the 82nd All-Star Game and, rather unsurprisingly, the results are kinda bad. This happens almost every year and always will. What more could one expect with the ability to cast ballots online? I'm not calling for any sort of reform though. Let's be honest, it just doesn't matter that much to truly get upset about. This isn't like 1957. It just simply can't be regulated effectively.
That being said and it being an off day, I want to look at how the fans are doing so far and argue as to who should be the two players at each position in the Junior Circuit to be visiting Phoenix this July. We'll start with the American League first. Why? Because the National League sucks. That's why.
Nothing shocking here. A Yankee in the lead and the reigning All-Star at the position are the lead horses. Russell Martin has actually earned his spot so far with a .372 wOBA and 1.8 WAR. Switching leagues and moving into a hitter friendly ballpark seem to have helped a great deal. He leads AL catchers in HR and SB. Joe Mauer hasn't played since April 12th. But since Opening Day Rosters seem to be the choices on the ballot, he is ahead of all but one more deserving candidate (look up). Who should be the back-up? This is a tough one. Carlos Santana and Matt Wieters are both having good seasons, but since no one else on the Orioles (other than maybe Jeremy Guthrie) has a snowball's chance of making the roster I'm giving the nod to Wieters (at least for now).
1B: Mark Teixeira-NYY (827,247) and Adrian Gonzalez-BOS (685,262)
Your first reaction may be "Well of course it's them! East Coast bias!" and you'd be a little bit right. But it isn't as though either choice would be undeserving. Gonzalez has been efficient all-around and Teixeira has 16 homeruns. The problem is that Miguel Cabrera has been having a better season than both of them so far. He leads AL first basemen in both OBP and SLG, and it's not even close in OBP. Simply put, he's the best hitter at the position and first base defense doesn't really matter that much at the ASG. Gonzalez gets the back-up gig, having a higher OPS despite having hit six less homeruns than Tex. Them's the brakes.
2B: Robinson Cano-NYY (1,185,952) and Dustin Pedroia-BOS (586,361)
Both players are certainly having good enough seasons that this isn't outrageous, but there are better options. I don't know that I want to include Howie Kendrick, since he's only played 30 games at the position so far. So I won't. That makes Ben Zobrist the best choice to me. The Zorilla has 9 homeruns and 5 steals to go with his .352 wOBA. He's even got a pretty nice glove for a former utility player. Ian Kinsler should be his back-up, provided he stays healthy. He gets on base and steals more than Zobrist, but has a bit less power and defensive prowess as his counterpart from Tampa.
3B: Alex Rodriguez-NYY (945,127) and Adrian Beltre-TEX (755,551)
Depending on how much you value defense at the hot corner, the fans may have actually gotten this one right. A-Rod is having a nice start to the season, hitting 9 homeruns and swiping 3 bags to the tune of a .370 wOBA and 2.1 WAR. The back-up is where the true battle is. Both Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre currently stand at 1.7 WAR. Beltre's comes from his amazing defense and position-leading 11 homeruns. Youk's is a result of a position-high .384 wOBA and woeful defense. Who wins out? Beltre. Because I want a defensive replacement and Boston is going to have too many guys on the team anyways.
SS: Derek Jeter-NYY (931,410) and Asdrubal Cabrera-CLE (672,105)
The old standard and the hot bat. Derek Jeter has a sub-.300 wOBA. And sucks defensively. Cabrera is a better choice and is a good bet to be the Indians' representative, but as per usual better options abound. The right answers are Alexei Ramirez (duh) and Jhonny Peralta (WTF). Ramirez is simply the best short stop in the league. His only competitor on defense can't hit (Elvis Andrus). And while Cabrera is certainly off to a great start with the bat (.385 wOBA), it won't last and he is a butcher in the field. This leaves Che as the obvious choice. Jhonny Peralta is having himself the kind of season we haven't seen out of him since 2005. He's probably going to fall off a bit, but that .906 OPS deserves some form of recognition.
DH: Michael Young-TEX (646,979) and David Ortiz-BOS (618,609).
These choices pretty much nailed it. You can choose whichever to be the starter depending on what you're looking for. Both have a near identical OBP (.382 and .380 respectively). Go with Papi if you want power, Young if you're just looking for hits. It's kind of a down year for DHs, but the fans actually went with the right guys.
I went with six outfielders, because it felt right. Jose Bautista and his statistical Barry Bonds impersonation need to be the leading vote getter. No one with half a brain could argue this. And Curtis Granderson and his 17 homeruns are deserving of a starting nod as well. But not you Josh Hamilton. Your 20 games this season are not enough, and as such I find you undeserving. Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays is the man who should complete this triumvirate. The man Detroit sent south for Edwin Jackson has ridden a .416 BABIP to an impressive .457 wOBA and 3.1 WAR. He's shown he can hit and play defense, and while his start is wholly unsustainable, he deserves the recognition. Denard Span hasn't hit enough for me to call him an alternate. It's too early in the season to trust fully in UZR and his bat is just barely above average. Sorry Minnesota. This leaves the (semi)obvious three men as Alex Gordon backing up Joyce in left, Jacoby Ellsbury taking over for Granderson in center, and our very own Carlos Quentin eventually replacing the homerun king in right field. The three have been mashing the ball very well, and Ellsbury has the speed and baserunning acumen to be a pivotal pinch-runner late in the contest.
Denouement: So how are the fans doing in my eyes so far? They picked nine out of eighteen correctly. Not bad seeing as it's very hard to break the stranglehold over the starting positions that the Yankees and Red Sox seem to have year in and year out. I'll take a look at the Senior Circuit soon and plan on (if people enjoyed this enough) keeping updated as the results continue to be released throughout the season.
If you don't agree with my choices (shame on you) or the choices of the "fans" (much less shame on you), that's fine. But it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (which I apparently have always misattributed to Mark Twain), aptly said by Charles Dudley Warner: "Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it". Go do something about the weather.
In the past, I've usually included a link to the song I borrow my title from. Today, I decided to embed it instead. Do let me know which you prefer.