01 July 2008

American League 2008 All Star Ballot

Tomorrow is the last day for online All Star voting. I know because I get about two dozen emails per day telling me so. (OK, more like one.) I voted today, and thought it might be interesting to discuss why I voted as I did. here's my AL Ballot:

First Base: Giambi, J., NYY
Second Base: Kinsler, I., TEX
Third Base: Rodriguez, A., NYY
Shortstop: Jeter, D., NYY
Catcher: Posada, J., NYY
Outfielder: Damon, J., NYY, Hamilton, J., TEX, Sizemore, G., CLE
Designated Hitter: Huff, A., BAL

I'm a Yankee fan, and I make no apologies for that. With that said, I don't think any of these picks need too much explanation.

Jason Giambi, despite the .263 batting average, leads all AL first basemen in walks, homers, slugging, OPS, OBP and awesome facial hair. In fact, his .398 OBP is almost 20 points higher than that of Kevin Youkilis, the so-called "Greek God of Walks", who leads all AL firstbasemen with 48 Runs scored. Youk also leads the pack with about 1.9 million votes, almost 300,000 more than second-place Justin Morneau. For his part, Morneau leads AL firstbasemen with 63 RBIs. More to the point, if you're trying to actually win the contest, the Giambino and his child-molester/pizza guy moustache have been raking at a .324/.444/.642 clip since early May.

Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler leads not just the Al, not just second basemen, but everyone in MLB with 71 runs scored. He's hitting .321 (5th in the AL) has 20 steals (6th in the AL) and his .532 slugging percentage is 10th. In addition, he leads all AL second basemen in homers, RBIs (50) and OBP (.375), and is one point behind Placido Polanco in batting average and one steal behind Brian Roberts. Granted, his home park helps him, as you can see from the approximately 100-point spread between his home and road batting and OBP numbers, but he actually has hit 10 of his 13 homers on the road. So that's something. Regardless of that, nobody else is even in the same category. Also, I just fleeced someone in my fantasy league out of him, so I have to pull for him.

Third base was practically a no-brainer. Despite missing three weeks with an injury, A-Rod leads all AL hot cornermen in homers, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and Steals. He's two runs off the pace of league leader Alex Gordon (who needed about 75 more at-bats to score those two runs) and is three RBIs behind the pace of Mike Lowell and Evan Longoria. There are also some bizarre rumors about him being "linked to" Madonna, so maybe he and Jose Canseco have more in common than the Juice Man would care to admit. If we notice the reigning MVP wearing a red string bracelet at the All-Star Game, we'll know why. In any case, A-Rod will be there, as he leads all AL players with 2.52 million votes.

Shortstop was one of the tougher decisions. Derek Jeter is clearly having an off-year (for him), hitting only .280 with 4 homers and steals, though that's only 5 points behind Michael Young, and Jeter doesn't have the benefit of playing half his games in a Texas phonebooth. (Young's hitting just .254 on the road.) Jhonny Peralta has a dozen bombs, but the one he hit yesterday was hist first in more than a month. He's also struck out more than any other AL shortstop, and is hitting only .257 with an OBP that barely cracks .300. Plus he spells his name wheirldy. Nobody else has more than half a dozen homers, is hitting more than about .275 or has stolen more than a dozen bases. So, without a clear leader, I went to my fall back. Which is apparently what 2.5 million other voters have done, as Jeter is second only to A-Rod in AL votes.

Catcher was tough, too, since I really like Jorge Posada, but he hasn't played much due to the problems with his throwing shoulder. Despite missing all that time, he has as many homers as Joe Mauer, and his OPS (min 100-at-bats) is second to Mauer as well. I should probably have voted for Mauer instead, who leads the AL with a .323 batting average, is third in OBP with a .410 mark, and has caught 71 of his team's 83 games. Additionally, he leads all AL catchers in runs, RBIs, doubles, walks and OPS.

Incidentally, with about 1.6 million votes, Mauer is the only non-Yankee or Red Sock to be leading a position in the AL voting, and his lead over Jason Varitek (.222 with 7 homers, *yuk*) is only about 150,000 votes, so he could get overtaken if the Red Sox make a mad vote rush in the 11th hour.

The outfield was fun because there are so many good options. I left Milton Bradley off because he's been a little gimpy (I know because he was one of the players I got rid of in the Ian Kinsler trade, which also netted me A-Rod and Dan Haren). We want to win this thing, so I couldn't pick a guy I know is hurt.

I did pick Hamilton because he's leading the majors in RBI's and he's a great story. I picked Damon because, well, he's a Yankee, but also because he's hitting .315 with patience and he's got some speed, and we're a little short on that. Jacoby Ellsbury was looking like a great option a month ago, but he's hit just .176 woth zero homers and one RBI in the last two weeks, and we don't need speed that badly.

Grady Sizemore, despite the .263 average, has 19 homers and 19 steals (in 21 attempts), so he's a threat both at the plate and on the basepaths. J.D Drew is doing very well, or has had a great month, at least, but I'm not convinced he's for real, not after a year and change of mediocrity. Manny Ramirez, who leads all AL outfielders in votes, is having a good year, but not a great one, not for him, and anyway screw Boston.

And speaking of screw Boston, David Ortiz leads all Designated Hitters in votes, despite the facts that

A) He's hitting .252 on the year and
2) He's been on the DL since the end of May.

Maybe that's why he got all those votes? Fans thought it aid DL, not DH?

the number two vote getter, Hideki Matsui, was having a decent year as well before he got hurt, so I couldn't vote for him. Jack Cust has a lot of walks and 13 homers, but is hitting just .234, and ditto for Jim Thome, one of my favorites.

So, instead I voted for Aubrey Huff. He's hitting a respectable .274, leads the AL DH field with 14 homers and 46 RBIs, and we share a birthday, though he's two years younger than me. Just to show you I'm not that biased, though, I did not vote for either David DeJesus, who's injured but was hitting .316, or David Wright, who's having a sold year over in the Senior Circuit.

Tomorrow I'll share my NL ballot...

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