Thursday, June 30, 2011

Preemptive strike

The fan voting for the 2011 MLB All-Star game starters ends tonight. Even though baseball fans are some of the smartest and savviest fans in the world, the fan voting always ends in utter ridiculous and highly biased choices. To counteract this inevitability, I am preemptively complaining about who will be chosen as the starters in the mid-summer classic. Many of the choices this year are slap-you-in-the-face obvious, yet preliminary voting results show that these same choices are not in line to get the nod.

Let's start with the American League.

Catcher - The pick here is Alex Avila without much room for argument. He has clearly been the best catcher all year long. Of course the winner will most likely be Russell Martin, a player who was carrying the Yankees the first month of the season but has tailed off quite a bit since. We are 0 for 1.

First Base - Mark Teixeira has been okay. Adam Lind and Paul Konerko have been great but not great enough. Miguel Cabrera is always in contention but Adrian Gonzalez is the most deserving player here. Luckily, he will also win the popularity contest so we're 1 for 2.

Second Base - No one stands out here between Howie Kendrick, Robinson Cano and Ben Zobrist. I would take Zobrist although Cano will most certainly win this vote. Let's call it a wash. The sad part will be if the likes of Ian Kinsler or Dustin Pedroia make the roster over those other, more deserving second basemen.

Third Base - Similarly, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis have all been solid if unspectacular. Take your pick. Mine would be for Beltre, but Rodriguez or Youkilis will most likely take the votes by tomorrow.

Shortstop - Really the only possible argument here is whether J.J. Hardy has come on enough to usurp Asdrubal Cabrera and be deserving of the starting nod. I would still stick with Cabrera. Of course, not to burst any bubbles but it is looking like Derek Jeter will win this unless Cabrera makes a strong, late day push. Either way, Jeter even being in this discussion is an outrage.

Designated Hitter - Real cut and dry here. The most deserving player is David Ortiz and he will win the voting.

Outfield - Almost too good to be true, the AL outfield has formed itself into three distinct and obvious candidates and no more. Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury are the three guys who should be starting and in that order. Oddly enough, the Blue Jay is not the player needing votes to get it. Ellsbury trailed Josh Hamilton recently but not by much so there is still time for America to get this one right.

Starting Pitcher - Although the fans don't vote on the starting pitcher for the All-Star clubs, the decision can still be messed up. Justin Verlander deserves to win this but I am afraid the likes of Jered Weaver or Josh Beckett could steal it from him. It would be a crime if that happened.

Now on to the National League.

Catcher - Thankfully, this is a nice and easy start for the NL voters. Brian McCann should and will be the starting catcher for the game mid-July.

First Base - We are splitting hairs here between Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. I would give the slight edge to Votto but, oddly enough, it might not matter. Last check, Albert Pujols was still leading the voting for NL first basemen. For the first time in his career, Pujols might win something he doesn't deserve. Shout-out to Gaby Sanchez who is having a phenomenal first half and has absolutely zero chance of being voted in.

Second Base - I suppose Rickie Weeks deserves to be the starter here although I would enjoy it more if Nats rookie Danny Espinosa got the nod. This has no chance of happening so if Weeks wins, no complaints here.

Third Base - There is literally not a single deserving recipient of the starting third baseman's job. David Wright is still on the DL, where he's been for a while. Ryan Zimmerman didn't return from his DL stint long enough ago to accumulate any stats. I would vote for Chipper Jones and call it a lifetime achievement start. If Placido Polanco is voted in instead, I'll complain but simply because he stinks and not because someone else deserved it.

Shortstop - There must be some kind of mental block going around when it comes to voting for shortstops. Both leagues are about to get the most obvious votes incorrect. Calling Jose Reyes the odds on favorite to win NL MVP would not be a stretch. The fact that he trails Troy Tulowitzki in fan voting is probably a slight oversight on the level of Fox canceling Family Guy that first time. The only logical excuse to miss one of the easier votes here is that Mets fans are too depressed to submit ballots.

Outfield - Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and Lance Berkman are the most deserving players on the NL ballot. Although it is not as crystal clear as the AL since Matt Holiday, Michael Morse or Drew Stubbs (if strikeouts don't matter) could be chosen over Berkman, there is no debate about the first two. The problem is Lance Berkman is not the outfielder on the chopping block right now, it's Kemp. Matt Kemp, the only other option to Reyes right now to win NL MVP, not being voted to start the All-Star game would be like Jose Reyes not being voted to start the All-Star game...

Starting Pitcher - Let's let the Phillies clubhouse attendants decide this one. Whoever is nicer to them, Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, should get the nod.

So there you have it. With a few hours remaining in the voting, there are plenty of boneheaded mistakes about to come to fruition. I guess this is a game for the fans and they deserve to see whichever players they wish. It's just a good thing this game doesn't mean anything...Oh, that joke has been used too many times you say? Ehh, I don't care.

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