Saturday, July 12, 2008

AL All-Star Team Position Players Review

Search around the internet, you'll be hard pressed to find too many positives on many of the players selected by the fans to start in the American League All-Star game. When you break down the list, even some of the players selected by the players themselves were questioned. Where's the positives here? Let's take a look.

Starters are in bold

American League
Position: Catcher

Selected: Joe Mauer(Minn), Dioner Navarro(TB), Jason Varitek(Bos)

In 83 games this season, Joe Mauer is batting .323 and has driven in 39. All-Star numbers, though he could have more power having only hit four home runs thus far this season. On the year, he has 28 extra base hits, 23 of them doubles. A good selection overall.

Dioner Navarro has played well for the up-start Tampa Bay Rays. A key part of the surprise success in Tampa, Navarro is hitting .306 in 68 games for the Rays. Navarro's average has dropped recently, hitting .263 and .253 in June and July respectively. Still, Navarro is providing solid defense behind the plate for the Rays. Many don't expect Navarro to return to the numbers from April and May, but Navarro has earned his spot on this team.

Jason Varitek is a clubhouse leader for the Boston Red Sox. He walks into Fenway park for each game with the title of captain. Beyond that, his numbers don't scream All-Star. Outside of Fenway, it's hard to imagine too many people are thrilled with this selection. So where do the positives with this selection lie. Good question. Truthfully, there is none. His strikeout to walk ratio is weak, his OBP currently stands at .299, and with a battering average under .230, it's hard to imagine there wasn't a better choice.

Position: First Base

Selected: Kevin Youkilis(Boston) Justin Morneau (Minn)

Youkilis, a first time All-Star, has always drawn walks. He's turned up the heat this year, hitting .314, knocking 14 out of the park, and driving in 57 for the Sox. Youk is at a career high for batting average and slugging percentage(.571). While many around the league might have All-Star numbers, Youkilis has strong numbers and is a good selection at 1st base.

Morneau knows what it's like to be an All-Star and continues to put up numbers to earn him a spot as a reserve on the AL All-Star team in 2008. One could argue his numbers are better than Youkilis and he should be starting the game. Valid argument when you look at his .324 batting average and 68 rbis. Add in 53 runs scored and 14 home runs, and Morneau could make his case. The Twins have performed well this season, and if the Red Sox weren't in first place and one of the best teams in Major League's baseball for the first half, the debate for Morneau to be the starter would be even stronger.

Position: Second Base

Selected: Dustin Pedroia(Bos), Ian Kinsler(Tex)

Before the Pedroia haters jump on board and start to rant, let's break down his numbers before you start screaming he should be starting. Pedroia has had a strong first half, there's no doubt on the matter. Batting .311 with 9 home runs and 44 rbis, he's continued to produce for the Sox after winning the Rookie of the Year award last season.

Then there's Kinsler. Sporting a batting average of .323 and 14 home runs, Kinsler has played well. When you break down the stats further, it can be argued that Kinsler could be the starter. After all, he has 23 steals(14 more than Pedroia), and has driven in 53 runners of his own.

However you break it down, one thing is clear. Both are having great seasons and have earned a trip to the Bronx in 2008.

Position: Shortstop

Selected: Derek Jeter(NY), Michael Young(Tex)

The All-Star game is in the Bronx and there's no one better to start this game than Derek Jeter. While Jeter's numbers may not be quite as strong as player select Michael Young, we're talking about the captain of the Yankees starting at Yankee Stadium in the last All-Star game in the Bronx, in the final season of the House that Ruth Built. His numbers are down this season, with Jeter hitting .286, scoring 51 runs, and driving in 39. Only four home runs, it's safe to say Jeter is a rock in the Yankees organization, and has made it clear that if he never plays in another All-Star game in his career, he'll be content with this one being his last. It's his 9th All-Star Selection.

Michael Young's numbers make their case to be part of the hoopla in the Bronx. Batting .305, with five home runs and 50 rbis, Young has been one of the strong points on a Texas team trying to stay afloat 6.5 games back in the AL West. With six stolen bases on the season, his numbers are similar to Jeter's.

Position: Third Base

Selected: A-R0d(NY), Joe Crede(CWS), Carlos Guillen(Det), Evan Longoria(TB)

With one side of the infield full of Red Sox, it's only appropriate the other is full of Yankees. Nothing like the Yankees and Red Sox in the world of sports, and always makes for a good show in the Bronx. A-Rod adds yet another All-Star appearance to his resume. Despite missing some time earlier this season, A-Rod has played very well at third base for the Yankees. With a .311 batting average and an OBP of .394, he's had his share of time spent on the base path. That's led to 13 steals, allowing A-Rod to provide a mix of power and speed for the Yankees. The power, that would be 18 home runs in 73 games.

Joe Crede doesn't have as pretty of a batting average but has provided the White Sox with some power as well. Knocking out 16 and driving in 49, Crede has been a force in the middle of the White Sox line-up.

Carlos Guillen represents Detroit in the Bronx this year, taking up the second third base reserve spot on the AL roster. Guillen's batting average has dropped about 15 points in the last few weeks. Despite the recent drop, his .284 batting average is respectable, coupled with 8 home runs and 47 rbis. Don't forget his ability run, having swiped eight bases already this year.

The final third base spot on the AL roster made the team through the recent fan vote. Evan Longoria, in his rookie year, makes the squad with an impressive run with the Rays. A .281 batting average in his first season, Longoria has impressed many. Driving in runs for a Rays team that has lacked offense in the past few seasons helped earn a spot on the All-Star team, with 44 runs scored and 53 runs batted in. Did I mention he's hit 16 home runs and isn't too shabby on the base paths when he has to be? Well, I just did now.

Position: Outfield

Selected: Josh Hamilton(Tex),Manny Ramirez(Bos), Ichiro Suzuki(Sea),JD Drew(Bos), Carlos Quintin(CWS), Grady Sizemore(Cle)

Josh Hamilton has done just about everything for Texas this year. When they say everything is big in Texas, I guess they had Josh Hamilton in mind. The man is popular in the Longhorn state, and why not, he's only batting .313, with 21 homeruns. And he's driven in 93 runs. That's before the All-Star break. Yeah, that's a lot.

Manny Ramirez will start in the House that Ruth Built in his 12 All-Star appearance. Ramirez isn't having his best season, but is still putting up quality numbers for the Sox. The always entertaining Manny(most recently seen making a phone call in the Green Monster), is hitting .289, and has driven in 59 in 88 games this season.

Suzuki hasn't had the luxary of a break in his season in his eight years in the Majors. That's because he's made the All-Star team in each of his eight season in the Majors. The reason? It could be the .302 batting average. It could be the 62 runs scored this season. Or how about the 34 stolen bases? Something along those lines one would imagine.

Also making the squad as a reserves are JD Drew, Carlos Quintin, and Grady Sizemore. Each is with striking range of a .300 batting average and has driven over 50 thus far this season. Only JD Drew has less than 20 home runs of the three.

Position: DH

Selected: David Ortiz(Bos), Milton Bradley(Tex)

David Ortiz was selected but will not be playing. That leaves Milton Bradley starting in DH next week. Bradley certainly is deserving of the job, the switch hitter is batting .314, 37 points higher than his career batting average. Add in 39 extra base hits, including 17 home runs, and a .440 OBP, you've got the recipe for an All-Star DH.

Up next, I'll cover the National League position players. Monday night, just prior to the All-Star game on Tuesday, look forward to a look at the pitchers for both the AL and NL squads.


Travis Miller said...

With one half of the infield full of Red Sox, it's only appropriate that the other is full of Yankees?! This isn't 2004, there are better teams out there and better rivalries and more deserving players!

I leave this argument alone, though, because I can't defend myself against the fan vote. This weekend is primarily about the fans.

Chris Barrows said...

Precisely my point. It's about the fans. Fans get what they want to see.

I didn't really talk about it, but it is a shame that the smaller market teams don't get as well represented with their favorite(and deserving) players.

With that being said, it's about time we saw positives on the all-star selections(being it's been all negative). Though, please, if anyone has a positive on Jason Varitek being in the game, let me know.

I couldn't find a reason.