A 2014 All-Star Ballot

The All-Star Game is less than a month away. Does that mean it’s time for an official ballot? Probably not, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about lately, so sit there and read my thoughts. It’s easier than doing stuff.

Here’s the process: For each league, I’ll pick a starter at each position, including DH (pitchers should never bat in the All-Star Game). Then I’ll round out a 30-man team with a seven-player bench and 14 pitchers. I know the actual rosters are bigger, but I don’t care about representing each team or rewarding ROOGYs with 15 holds.

My basic premise, which I stole from my friend Dan McCloskey a few years ago, is that players should be rewarded for their performance since the last All-Star game. I’ll rank players at each position by Fangraphs WAR over the past calendar year, then prioritize offensive performance, which is more measurable than defense, and 2014 performance, as I prefer stars who are more than a flash in the pan, but are playing well now. I won’t rule out adjustments for postseason performance, but won’t make them a priority, as such opportunities are obviously not distributed uniformly. Here we go:

National League
Catcher
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers– Lucroy doesn’t get the press Yadier Molina and Buster Posey get, but he’s been phenomenal over the past year, hitting .309/.372/.487 and playing his standard excellent defense. He laps the field in WAR, leading Molina, 5.6 to 4.3.

First Base
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks– Joey Votto is the star, and he’s played quite well when healthy over the past year, but Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have emerged as contenders to Votto’s crown as the NL’s best hitter. Surprisingly, Goldschmidt’s 34 home runs make him the only NL first baseman with as many as 30 since last June 12.

Second Base
Chase Utley, Phillies– Utley’s 35, but he can still play. He exploded out of the gate in ’14, and he’s hitting .300/.361/.482 in the last year, while fielding far better than any other contender for this spot.

Shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies– You were expecting Neifi Perez? Tulo might win the NL MVP award unanimously if a vote were held today, despite the Rockies’ recent slide. Even having missed some time last summer, he’s earned 6.5 WAR since last June, hitting an absurd .356/.448/.667 in 2014 with 17 homers and the best non-Andrelton glove in the league.

Third Base
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals– A second baseman in 2013 and a third baseman in 2014, Carpenter deserves to start somewhere, and his competition is tougher at second than third, where the Dodgers’ Juan Uribe is second in WAR. Carpenter brings every tool, hitting over .300 with good defense, good speed, and 67 extra base hits over the past year.

Outfield
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

There’s no left fielder close to the WAR leaderboard, so I’ll start Stanton in left. McCutchen is the reigning MVP and leads all NL players with a .435 OBP over the past calendar year. Puig has batted .313/.398/.528 and stolen 18 bases. Stanton’s 38 homers lead the NL, and he’s walked in over 14 percent of his plate appearances. Carlos Gomez is the most difficult omission so far, as his 6.5 WAR since 6/12/13 trail only McCutchen at any position, but he’s clearly not the best center fielder in the league and it’s hard to ignore the other guys’ offensive exploits.

Designated Hitter
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers– A shortstop as a DH? Why not? Hanley’s been a bat-first shortstop his whole career, and his 163 wRC+ leads all players not listed as starters above.

Starting Pitcher
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers– Adam Wainwright has more wins (19) since last June, and Johnny Cueto has the shiny ERA (1.85) this year, but over a year (or just about any interval since Kershaw debuted in the league), Kershaw’s been the best pitcher. His 2.15 ERA trails only Jose Fernandez, who’s thrown 25 fewer innings, and his 2.14 FIP leads the league by a healthy margin.

Bench
Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Freddie Freeman, Braves
Andrelton Simmons, Braves
Juan Uribe, Dodgers
Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Jason Heyward, Braves
Jayson Werth, Nationals

Bullpen
Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Zack Greinke, Dodgers
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Cliff Lee, Phillies
Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Andrew Cashner, Padres
Julio Teheran, Braves
Steve Cishek, Marlins
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Tony Watson, Pirates
Craig Kimbrel, Braves

6 Dodgers, 5 Braves, no Mets, no Cubs, one LOOGY with 16 holds (and a 1.00 ERA). Ok, moving on…

American League
Catcher
Salvador Perez, Royals– Perez is in a virtual dead heat with the Indians’ Yan Gomes over the past full year, and his performance is driven largely by his glove, but he’s outperformed Gomes in 2014 by half a win. Catcher defense is hard to evaluate, but the numbers match Perez’s reputation as the best backstop in the AL. He’s caught 10 of 19 would-be base-stealers in 2014 after nabbing 25 of 71 in 2013.

First Base
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays– Chris Davis has hit 43 homers since last June, and Brandon Moss has developed into a middle-of-the-order force for the A’s, but neither is particularly close to Encarnacion, who’s slugging .571 and has hit 39 homers of his own over the past year.

Second Base
Robinson Cano, Mariners– Brian Dozier has been an offensive force in 2014, but the ever-steady Cano has batted .338 with 15 homers and 9 stolen bases since last June, walking nearly as often (9.3% of PAs) as he strikes out (10.5%).

Shortstop
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox– Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado are both playing third base at the moment, and haven’t played enough to contend with Ramirez’s calendar year numbers, so we’ll wait one more year before those two start sparring for this spot every season. Meanwhile, Ramirez has hit .302 with 12 homers and 29 steals since last June, out-WARing Erick Aybar and the field by more than half a win.

Third Base
Josh Donaldson, Athletics– Only the great Trout has earned more WAR in the AL since last June than Donaldson’s 7.7. He balances his 32 home runs with the best defensive numbers at third this side of Machado.

Outfield
Mike Trout, Angels
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Alex Gordon, Royals

Trout dipped all the way from 11 WAR from 6/12/12 to 6/12/13 to 10.6 over the next year. Since he might struggle to play all three outfield positions, we’ll add Bautista, who’s rebounded this year to hit .311/.434/.548 after missing most of last season to injury, and Gordon. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino match Gordon’s performance over the past year based almost entirely on 2013 production, but we’ll go with the guy who’s steadily performed throughout the last year, hitting 21 homers, stealing 14 bases, and playing Trout-esque defense in left.

Designated Hitter
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers– I suppose I could switch Cabrera and Encarnacion, both of whom are butchers with the glove, but I’m not sure it matters as long as both get to start and neither has to play the whole game in the field. Cabrera always hits, and he’s hit .332/.413/.603 since last June. Big Papi would need about 6 more ALCS-saving grand slams to match what Cabrera does night-in and night-out.

Starting Pitcher
Felix Hernandez, Mariners– We’ve seen a lot of flavors-of-the-month start the All-Star Game based on 15 great outings to begin a season, but the full-year method tends to bring out the best. Max Scherzer was lights-out last year and Masahiro Tanaka has been phenomenal so far this year, but Felix just keeps on ticking, earning 6.6 WAR over the past season with a 2.99 ERA and an AL-best 2.41 FIP.

Bench
Yan Gomes, Indians
Brandon Moss, Athletics
Brian Dozier, Twins
Evan Longoria, Rays
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees
Adam Jones, Orioles

Bullpen
Max Scherzer, Tigers
Yu Darvish, Rangers
David Price, Rays
Chris Sale, White Sox
Jon Lester, Red Sox
John Lackey, Red Sox
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
Anibal Sanchez, Tigers
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
Scott Kazmir, Athletics
Greg Holland, Royals
Koji Uehara, Red Sox

3 Blue Jays, 3 Red Sox, 3 Tigers, 3 Royals, 3 A’s, 3 Mariners, no Astros. And one rookie, as Tanaka’s performance in 2014 has been too good to ignore, while Bogaerts, Jose Abreu, and Yangervis Solarte fall short.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in All-Star Game, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A 2014 All-Star Ballot

  1. I am glad you noticed Brandon Moss. Hopefully he doesn’t get over looked for the team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s