Thoughts on the Early All-Star Game Fan Voting
The early voting results are in for the 2009 MLB All-Star game. As usual, the fans so far are making some fine selections, but also some mind-boggling choices that I hope will get rectified before the voting ends.
In the NL, the overall vote leader so far is Albert Pujols, and that is reasonable since he is again having a great season (14 HR, 40 RBI, .319). What I don’t understand is how Adrian Gonzalez, who is leading the majors in HR, isn’t even in the top five at 1B. He has 18 HR, 34 RBI, and is hitting .285. Right now behind Pujols are Fielder, Howard, Delgado, and Berkman, with those last two being particularly ridiculous choices this season over Gonzalez.
Chase Utley and David Wright are leading in votes at 2B and 3B, and those are fine choices. But at SS, somehow J.J. Hardy, with his 5 HR and .247 average is leading the polls. Granted two of the bigger name guys — Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes — are having less-than-typical seasons, but I would have thought based on popularity alone they would be ahead of Hardy. Hopefully superstar Hanley Ramirez will surpass Hardy soon, as he at least has 8 HR, 8 SB, and a .320 average thus far.
At catcher the leader is Yadier Molina, but with only 3 HR and a .268 average, hopefully someone stronger will emerge soon. Unfortunately, the big names here, Brian McCann and Russell Martin, haven’t done much yet this year.
In the NL outfield I have no strong objections to Ryan Braun (8 HR, 31 RBI, .315), Alfonso Soriano (12 HR, 36 R, 5 SB, .253), and Carlos Beltran (6 HR, 31 RBI, 7 SB, .367). Yes, Raul Ibanez based on his numbers (17 HR, 44 RBI, .339) should be leading in votes, but given the popularity aspect of the vote I consider it a good sign he is at least 6th in the OF voting at this point. Surely he will at least catch the suspended Manny Ramirez who is currently ahead of him and in 4th place. I’d like to see Justin Upton get some more support, as he currently isn’t in the top 15 even while hitting 9 HR, 4 triples, 6 SB, and .346. And ditto for Adam Dunn who is hitting HRs as always (16 HR, 42 RBI), but is also miraculously hitting well above .250 with a .283 clip so far.
And this brings me to the curious situation of the Brewers outfielders, who beyond Braun at the top also rank 5th (Mike Cameron) and 7th (Corey Hart). Something strange is going on with Milwaukee, because it isn’t just their outfielders getting undeserved support so far, but all of their position players. I already mentioned Hardy leading over Ramirez and bigger name players at SS. And Fielder is in second place at 1B, Rickie Weeks (who was doing well before getting hurt) is in second place at 2B, Bill Hall (4 HR, .223) is in second place at 3B, and even Jason Kendall (0 HR, .206) is in second place at catcher. Must be some ballot stuffing going on in Wisconsin!
Now for the AL results so far. The always popular Derek Jeter is the overall vote leader, though he trails Pujols by a good margin for the over MLB leader. And he is having a fine season so far, with 7 HR, 30 runs, 10 SB, while hitting .297. One could make a case for Jason Bartlett based on his numbers — 7 HR, 30 RBI, 14 SB, .373 — and he should get selected as the backup if he can come off the DL in time.
At 1B we have four guys with solid numbers, with Kevin Youkilis leading in votes followed by Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Justin Morneau. It could be tough to not pick all four for the roster. And ditto for 2B, where Ian Kinsler leads the pack. One could make a case for Aaron Hill as having the better numbers, and he at leastÂ should be higher than Dustin Pedroia in the tally so far. Robinson Cano currently is in 4th, with Brian Roberts 5th — meaning there will be some good players left off the squad here.
Evan Longoria started the season on fire and has since cooled off a bit, but he deserves to be the starter at 3B. A-Rod is back now, and is hitting pretty well, but between his injury and damaged reputation, he might not make the all-star game at all. He’s currently third in the vote, behing Michael Young who is having a nice season so far (7 HR, .335).
There are two stud catchers in the AL, and the fans so far seem to get this. Joe Mauer is leading in votes as he has an amazing 11 HR and 32 RBI in only 91 at-bats, to go with a .407 average. Victor Martinez has actually played the entire season, and has 7 HR, 36 RBI, and is hitting .359 — a clear candidate for comeback player of the year in the AL.
And finally the AL outfield leaders are Jason Bay (14 HR, 48 RBI, .281), Josh Hamilton (6 HR, 21 RBI, .241), and Ichiro Suzuki (8 SB, .343). Two out of three isn’t bad I guess, as fans must be voting for Hamilton in part based on memory of his 2008 season. One could make a case for a few outfielders over Ichiro too, such as Carl Crawford (30 SB, .317) Adam Jones (11 HR, 36 RBI, .357) or Torii Hunter (11 HR, 40 RBI, .316), but Ichiro is so popular I don’t find his current third place ranking too blameworthy. What is silly though isÂ his still-popular teammate Ken Griffey Jr. (5 HR, .219) coming right behind as 4th in the outfield vote — come on people!