06 July 2006

DPD: All-Star Game’s Pleasant Surprises, American League Edition

My colleague took an opportunity Tuesday to point out the silliness of the MLB rule that requires the annual "All-Star" rosters to include at least one representative from each team. If Mark Redman can make an All-Star team, then perhaps it's just a matter of time before we end up in some sort-of Harrison Bergeron-esque All-Mediocrity team, rosters rife with reserve middle infielders, AAAA-level, one-dimensional hitters who can't run or field, and pitchers who can only get one type of batter out. Naturally, the ideal end of such a game would be, you guessed it, a tie. Of course, the American and National Leagues were rewarded with an opportunity to "kiss their sisters" back in 2002, so maybe we're closer to Kurt Vonnegut's baseball-style nightmare than I think.

However, that is not what I want to write about today. There are plenty of scribes out there on the InterWeb lamenting the absence of Schillings and Mussinas and Lirianos on the All-Star rosters. Those are real losses for the fans, and it it truly unfortunate that such accomplished men miss out on this chance to shine, especially considering that Hall of Fame voters include "number of All-Star appearances" among their voting criteria.

Another blight on the face of the All-Star Game is this silly "This Time It Counts...Bee-yatch!" or whatever this year's ridiculous slogan is to remind us of the fact that the game's winner will determine home-field advantage for the World Series. Jayson Stark argues that the required inclusion of one All-Star per MLB team is the "dumbest rule in baseball" but I'd say that this one rivals it closely.

Another problem occurs with the way in which voting for the All-Star starters are seleced. With the incorporation of Internet voting into the process, it has now become almost apallingly easy to "stuff the ballots", hence the presence of five Yankees and Red Sox in the AL lineup and four New York Mets among the nine NL starters. The Commissioner's office used to have the 'nads to do something about this, but no more. How about subbing in Michael Barrett's .873 OPS and patented right hook over Paul LoDuca's popgun bat and overrated defense? Guess not.

But as I said, there are others who have already wailed over these problems, most of them better than I could. So instead, I will detail for you, my loyal readers (all eight of you!), some of this year's pleasant surprises at the All-Star Game.

Mark Loretta, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Loretta will be the starter for the American League at the Keystone this year, and he's not a bad choice at that. Currently hitting .310/.352/.392 with 3 homers and 34 RBIs, Loretta's not having a career year, but certainly a nice comeback. He suffered through a wrist injury that sapped his power most of last season and missed about a month and a half between late May and mid-July, hitting only .280/.360/.347 with three homers and 38 RBIs all season. This will be Loretta's second All-Star game, his first in the AL and his first in the starting lineup.

Read the rest at Double Play Depth...

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