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2008 All-Star Picks
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
July 10, 2008

The 2008 All-Star starting rosters have recently been announced, and of course, I am, like any other fan with a brain, upset with the results. There are players on both squads that shouldnít be starting who are starting, and some who donít belong at all. Usually, youíd expect a rant about how messed up the voting is, but I digress. No matter who would vote, whether it is the fans, the writers, or the coaches, we all know the wrong players would be chosen for all the wrong reasons. So in a game that means so little, no matter what the commercials say, why not let the fans vote? The Homerun Derby and the All-Star Game are both just a lot of fun, nothing more, nothing less. And if it did matter, the starters would play more than a few innings.

With that said, Iíd like to share what my vote would have looked like if I would have remembered to vote before the deadline.                          

Catcher

AL- Joe Mauer
NL- Brian McCann

Joe Mauer has been criticized for his lack of power, but youíd have to be insane to complain about a catcher who has an OPS approaching .900. Mauer isnít the greatest defensive catcher there is, but there is no one on his level offensively this year to give him a run for his money.

I am glad that all three great NL catchers, McCann, Martin, and Soto, all made the team, and Iím looking forward to these three young studs who are all under the age of 26 battling it out for the starting spot on the team for years to come, but I believe that McCann deserves to start this season. Martin leads all three in BA and OBP and he is also a personal favorite of mine, but his power numbers are not up to par with the other two legs of the tripod. I think McCannís 20 point edge in SLG trumps Sotoís nine point edge in OBP, but Soto is a rookie, and his team is having an excellent season , so I have no problem with him starting since it is so close.

First Base

AL- Jason Giambi
NL- Lance Berkman

I am upset that Giambi didnít make the team for a couple of reasons. One of them is that he actually deserved to make the team (Giambi led all AL first basemen in HR and OPS) and the other is we wonít be able to see him in the HR Derby. Giambi recently said that he would not participate in it if he did not make the team, and that is unfortunate because I was looking forward to see how far along the upper deck Giambi could have swatted the ball.

On the other hand, the fans got it right in the NL. Lance Berkman is having a career year, posting a line of .350/.438/.669 with 22 HR and 12 SB to boot. An argument could certainly be made for Pujols, whose rate stats are a tad bit better, but who has played in nine fewer games than the Big Puma.

Second Base

AL- Ian Kinsler
NL- Chase Utley

Kinsler not making the starting roster is probably the worst jib job of the year, yet it comes to no surprise that Dustin Pedroia, who plays for Boston, beat him out. Kinsler leads the league in hits, extra base hits, and runs scored. He has also posted an OPS way north of .900 while stealing 23 out of 24 bases. Everyone makes a big deal about how every team needs to be represented, but I think there should be a limit on starters per team. No more than three.

Utley is a no-brainer.  Not only is he the best second basemen in the league, but he may very well be the player in his league. He is one of the best offensive players in the senior circuit, as his league-leading 25 HR and 68 shows, plus he is head-and-shoulders above his peers defensively. He may only be third in RZR, but has made 43 plays out of his zone, 20 more than the next second baseman, Rickie Weeks.

Third Base

AL- Alex Rodriguez
NL- Chipper Jones

There isnít too much to say here. Both of these players are having excellent seasons, especially the Chip off the ol' block. Jones is enjoying a year of a lifetime, as he is flirting with .400. I have always thought that Jones never got enough credit for the offensive force that he has been.  Hopefully, his gaudy average causes a few fans to flip through the encyclopedia and check out how great of a hitter he was.

Shortstop

AL- Derek Jeter
NL- Hanley Ramirez

This is the weakest SS crop in quite some time for the AL. You can certainly make a case for Michael Young start for the AL squad, but I took Jeter over Young for one reason - now brace yourself - his defense. Yes, I am as surprised as you are that Jeter is leading the league in revesed zone rating. I watch Jeter just about every inning he has played this year, and I have noticed he range to his left has improved immensely. As far as his sharp falloff offensively, I think a lot of it has to do with him getting hit on the hand on May 21st. On that night he was hitting .306/.349/.419,  Now he is hitting .281/.343/.385.

Hanley Ramirez may have average range and poor handling skills, but he is a great offensive player. With the bat in his hands, Ramirez is the total package. He already has hit 21 HR this season, he hits for average as his .302 mark would suggest, and his plate discipline is also improving. He has drawn 44 walks this season and is averaging 4.2 pitches per plate appearance, a career high. And, of course, he has speed. Ramirez has stolen 21 bags at a 78% clip and has only knocked into four twin killings.

Outfield

AL- Jermaine Dye, Grady Sizemore, Josh Hamilton
NL-  Pat Burrell, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady

After having an abysmal 2007 campaign, Dye has had a resurgent 2008 season and is once again the anchor of the White Soxí offense. With Jim Thome and Nick Swisher slumping, and Carlos Quentin having a poor June, Dye has stepped up for the Sox. His OPS of .919 leads the team and all AL outfielders besides JD Drew.

Grady Sizemore has quickly become my favorite player since Tino Martinez, and I was outraged when a local radio host shunned him by citing his poor BA and mediocre RBI total. First off, you can blame his mediocre RBI mark on his manager Eric Wedge, who somehow doesnít see that Sizemore has evolved into a third place hitter rather than a lead off guy. And secondly, yeah, his BA isnít too pretty, but his league-leading 22 HR, .900+ OPS, and play in CF sure is. And Gradyís ladies seem to think his face is quite pretty, so why he didnít make the starting squad is beyond me.

We all know about Josh Hamiltonís story, so Iíll skip it. Hamilton is having a fine year, he has 19 HR and is OPSing .910, which is awesome. The one stat has everyone drooling is his RBI total of 84, which is the second highest at the ASB since Carlos Delgadoís mark of 97 back in 2003. I donít mean to rain on his parade, but the man behind him, Milton Bradley, is having a better year, and if you were to flip flop them in the lineup, it would be Bradley with the huge RBI totals.

In the NL, we see that Burrell continues to be one of the most underrated hitters in the game. Pat The Bat is on pace to set career highs in HR and 2B, and his BA, which many people get on him for, is a solid .279.  He still struggled to make the team.

The center field vote was by far the hardest for me to make. No one is really having a knockout season offensively. McLouth is having a solid season putting up a line of .279/.357/.522 and the closest man to him offensively is Carlos Beltran, who is having a poor season by his own standards. However, he is having another great season defensively, which really narrows the gap between the two offensively, but I favor offense and that lead me to choosing McLouth.

You think the Mets could use Nady right now? The Mets have played musical chairs in their corner outfield spots and now Nady is having a career year. His line of .323/.383/.538 is the best of his career, and he is on pace to set career highs in 2B and HR.

DH

AL- Milton Bradley
NL- Albert Pujols

There are a few reasons why Bradley is having an amazing first half. One of them is his health. Bradley hasnít played in 100 games since 2004 and is on pace to do so by missing only 14 out of the 90 games that the Rangers have played. The other reason that has impacted his season even more so  is The Ballpark in Arlington. His OPS at home is a mind-numbing 1.282 and is a good-but-not-great .867 on the road.

As I discussed before, you can make a great case for Pujols to start at first, but since Berkman has won the fanís vote let's put Albert at DH.

Starting Pitcher

AL-  Cliff Lee
NL-  Edinson Volquez

Justin Duchscherer has a better ERA than Lee does, but Lee has the edge in IP, W, K/BB ratio, and has given up the same amount of HR despite pitching 27 more IP.

Volquez gets the edge over Tim Lincecum because of the parks they each play in. They both have great records, almost identical ERA, and are 1-2 in  both Kís and K/9. Volquezí numbers are slightly more impressive than Lincecumís because he plays in a launching pad while Lincecum plays in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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