Monday, July 04, 2005

All-Star Selections

Well, the AL and NL All-Star teams are (almost) completely set in stone now, with selections having been announced yesterday for pitchers and reserves. It appears that the fans have done a pretty good job this year, selecting deserving players for the starting positions for the most part. For the first time in a few years, the Twins have placed more than one player on the team, with pitchers Johan Santana and Joe Nathan both getting invites. We'll take a look at them first.

Torii Hunter did not make the team yet, but he still has a chance (theoretically). He is one of the five players on the 32nd man ballot, voted on by the fans. His competition features Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Scott Podsednik, and Carl Crawford. I don't expect Torii to be able to compete against the wildly popular Jeter, but to my surprise Hunter had a thin lead when I checked last night. The voting goes until Wednesday, so make sure to head to MLB.com and vote as much as possible!

THE TWINS REPRESENTATIVES
*Johan Santana* 7-4, 3.73 ERA, .220 BAA, 10.68 K/9, 1.01 WHIP
In all honesty, Santana probably received a spot on this team based more on his performance for the second half of last season than for the first half of this season. Not to say he hasn't been good, but his ERA and wins are just not up there with the other guys on this team. Then again, he leads the league in strikeouts by far and his BAA and WHIP numbers are very good, so I don't think you could mount an argument that the guy does not deserve a spot.

*Joe Nathan* 1-3, 3.67 ERA, 22 saves, .211 BAA, 10.70 K/9, 1.22 WHIP
Like Santana, Nathan does not sport a particularly impressive ERA (the two Twins' representatives have the highest ERAs of any pitchers on the AL staff), and actually I am somewhat surprised to see him getting a spot. His peripheral numbers are very good, but I think that Jesse Crain would be a more deserving representative than Nathan. Granted, he also would have been more deserving than the Devil Rays' Danyz Baez or the Athletics' Justin Duchscherer, but those guys both found spots due to the stupid rule of each team needing a representative.

And now a quick look at the rest of the AL All-Star roster...
THE STARTERS
C - Jason Varitek (BOS) - .307/.374/.544, 13 HR, 34 RBI
Not question about this one really. Varitek has been indispensable to the Red Sox, providing terrific offense from the catcher position while also performing well on defense and helping hold the team together with his leadership.

1B - Mark Teixeira (TEX) - .284/.355/.544, 22 HR, 64 RBI
I was on the verge of vomiting earlier this season when Tino Martinez was leading the fans' voting at first base. Thank goodness they got a hold of themselves and started putting their votes towards the guy who deserves this spot, Teixeira. On a team full of young and powerful bats, Teixeira is the sandout with 22 HR, 64 RBI, and surprisingly good defense as well.

2B - Brian Roberts (BAL) - .359/.432/.602, 13 HR, 44 RBI
After coming seemingly out of nowhere with a ridiculous first month, many expected the Roberts to cool down. They're still waiting. While the power numbers have leveled off a bit, Roberts remains a fantastic leadoff man, posting an outstanding 1.034 OPS while stealing 18 bases as well. Having an MVP-type season.

SS - Miguel Tejada (BAL) - .321/.367/.594, 19 HR, 60 RBI
Tejada has teamed with Roberts to produce one of the better offensive middle infield duos of all time this season. He has been a major run-producer for the up-start Orioles while posting great peripheral numbers across the board.

3B - Alex Rodriguez (NYY) - .319/.414/.572, 20 HR, 66 RBI
As usual, A-Rod has been amazing. He's near the league leaders in all of the Triple Crown categories, and has had consistent power throughout the season.

OF - Johnny Damon (BOS) - .341/.383/.475, 4 HR, 42 RBI
It was nice to see Damon unseat Ichiro for the starting spot, as he is much more deserving. He has been very good in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox, leading the league in batting average and providing great speed on the basepaths.

OF - Vladimir Guerrero (LAA) - .350/.408/.602, 14 HR, 47 RBI
Though he missed some time with injury, it is hard to argue that Vladie does not deserve to be here. Even with his missed time, his stats are still impressive among the other starters on this team.

OF - Manny Ramirez (BOS) - .275/.358/.550, 20 HR, 70 RBI
Appearing for his ninth time in an All-Star game, Ramirez is having another gaudy season for the Sox. His 70 RBI leads the league, and has heated up as of late hitting a bunch of homers.

DH - David Ortiz (BOS) - .308/.388/.579, 19 HR, 67 RBI
Ortiz is clearly the best DH in baseball, a behemoth from the left side of the plate with the ability to drive any ball out of the park. His offensive numbers are phenomenal.

THE RESERVES
Ivan Rodriguez (DET), C
Paul Konerko (CHW), 1B
Mike Sweeney (KC), 1B
Alfonso Soriano (TEX), 2B
Michael Young (TEX), SS
Melvin Mora (BAL), 3B
Garret Anderson (LAA), OF
Gary Sheffield (NYY), OF
Ichiro Suzuki (SEA), OF
Shea Hillenbrand (TOR), DH

I'll just comment on this group as a whole. Most of the guys are deserving, although I think that Hunter was more deserving of a spot than Garret Anderson. Anderson has a pretty good batting average at .310 and 60 RBI, but Hunter has much more well-rounded stats and is a better defender. I also don't think Ichiro is having that great of a year (.301/.345/.432) but the fans want to see him. Plus, Seattle needed a rep.

PITCHERS
SP Roy Halladay (TOR)
SP Mark Buehrle (CHW)
SP Jon Garland (CHW)
SP Bartolo Colon (LAA)
SP Kenny Rogers (TEX)
SP Johan Santana (MIN)
RP Danyz Baez (TB)
RP Justin Duschserer (OAK)
RP Joe Nathan (MIN)
RP Mariano Rivera (NYY)
RP BJ Ryan (BAL)
RP Bob Wickman (CLE)

Again, I'll just comment on this group as a whole. I was surprised to see Boston manager Terry Francona bring Angels' ace Colon over his own 9-1 pitcher Matt Clement. I'm not going to say Colon is less deserving, but many managers would go with the sentimental pick and take their own guy in that situation. I am impressed with Francona for that choice. I predict that Halladay will be the starter, he has been the best pitcher in the AL this year... no question in my mind.

Coming later today, coverage of the NL team.