This is the baseball fan’s favorite time of the year. The season is just passed its halfway point and many teams are still in the running, while others are not so close. (Sorry Atlanta and Minnesota…) Despite their lack of offense, every team must have one member of their team to represent their club in the annual Midsummer Classic. This year’s All-Star festivities will be held in the gorgeous city of San Diego, California next Tuesday evening. The rosters were revealed last night and some find that there are some players that were snubbed of a starting role or even a place in the game at all. I will not go into those arguments, but I will make arguments on who your Final Vote should go towards. First, the visitors in the game on Tuesday, the American League.
Detroit’s Ian Kinsler
The 4-time all-star second baseman has been almost rejuvenated in the Motor City. So far this season, the 34-year old is batting .288 with 17 doubles, 16 homers, and 52 RBIs. An OPS of .840 is nothing to frown upon. Over the past two seasons with the Tigers, Kinsler has been notorious for grounding into double plays as he hit into 33 twin killings in 215 games. So far this season, Kinsler has only had two. Another portion of Kinsler’s game that has declined in the past couple years is his fielding ability. Over the last two season, Kinsler has been assessed 21 errors. In 696 innings at 2nd base for the 2016 campaign, Kinsler has only three errors in 393 chances. Kinsler’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) has taken a little dip as he was consistently above 5.0 in the past three seasons, he currently holds a 3.0 WAR. Kinsler was not going to get a starting job over Houston’s Jose Altuve or Seattle’s Robinson Cano, but Kinsler has been having a very solid season so far and should be considered greatly for the All-Star Game, especially for being 34 years old.
To vote: Text A1 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteKinsler
Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria
Evan Longoria has been a most likely will be the best Tampa Bay Ray to ever play (kind of easy to say that with a team that has been around for only 19 years). He is having another outstanding season for the Rays in a loaded American League East. The basement-dweller Rays have only been getting offense this season from Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson, and Longoria. The 30-year third baseman has not been to an All-Star Game since the 2010 season (the final of three consecutive appearances). The 2008 Rookie of the Year has definitely tailed off since his upbringing in St. Petersburg, but this year his numbers are definitely worthy of a bid in the All-Star Game at PETCO Park. Longoria currently holds a .277 average with an OPS of .846. Like Kinsler, Longoria’s WAR is very disappointing. Since his 6.2 WAR in 2013, Longoria has not owned a WAR of above 3.3. Currently, his WAR is at a dreary 2.2, which for Longoria is not promising. Longoria’s fielding has definitely improved since he came into the league 9 seasons ago. In 209 chances this season, Longoria has been given four errors (.981 fielding percentage).
To vote: Text A2 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteLongo
Boston’s Dustin Pedroia
Laser Show is trying to make another All-Star appearance for the beloved Boston Red Sox. Pedroia has not made an appearance since the 2013 All-Star Game, but is definitely deserving of it this season. The 32-year old second baseman is batting .308 with 8 long balls and 34 RBIs. One thing Pedroia shouldn’t be proud of is that he has grounded into 16 double plays, which is currently a league-high. Last season in 93 games he only did that 6 times and in 2014 he grounded into 14 double plays in 135 games. Something with Pedroia and contact swinging has not been good this season. But on the bright side, Pedroia’s .991 fielding percentage is nothing but typical Pedey. The 5-foot-9 Woodland, California native has a career .991 fielding percentage and that is why is considered one of the best 2nd baseman in the game. Does he have better numbers than Kinsler? Yes, he does, but something about Kinsler is more impressive.
To vote: Text A3 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VotePedey
Toronto’s Michael Saunders
One player that has made a huge impact for the Toronto Blue Jays this season is Michael Saunders. Some people may not have expected Saunders to make this big of an impact with a stacked offensive powerhouse like the Blue Jays, but Saunders has come off a devastating season-ending injury last year with a vengeance. The Victoria, British Columbia native is getting a full season with his country’s lone team and he is making his country proud. After only playing in 9 games last season, Saunders has already played 77 games for the Blue Jays in 2016, smashing 24 doubles, 15 homers, and a pair of triples. He has only driven home 38 runs and has struck out 88 times, which are both not very impressive, especially with how much the Blue Jays live off the offense. However, Saunders is batting .293 with an OPS with .914 (partially due to the large amount of long balls). Saunders has four outfield assists this season. He does have three errors in 112 chances, a .973 fielding percentage, but he has been the Blue Jays’ saving grace. Saunders’ WAR is slightly below starter level at 1.9 but the 29-year old Canadian is definitely proud of what he is accomplishing in Canada’s largest city. If “Captain Canada” as they are calling him in the voting process is selected to the All-Star Game he wold join the trio of Blue Jays already selected, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson, and Marco Estrada. It would also be Saunders’ first appearance in an MLB All-Star Game.
To vote: Text A4 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteCaptainCanada
Houston’s George Springer
George Springer has been a treat to see since he was brought up by the Houston Astros in the 2014 season. After finishing eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting that year, Springer has been consistently a power threat for the Astros. In 264 games for the Astros, Springer has blasted 55 homers and has driven home 142 runs. This season alone, Springer has 19 round-trippers, with 50 RBIs and six stolen bases. Springer also has a knack for hitting extra-base hits as he also has 12 doubles and two triples. Springer is batting .265 on the season and has an OPS of .842. Springer has a WAR of 3.5 which puts him in solid starter territory. Springer also has eight outfield assists in 702 2/3 innings, in 179 chances. He owns a fielding percentage of .994 which is quite impressive, especially for an outfielder. Springer is quite young, however, as the 26-year old would be appearing in his first All-Star game if elected. Baseball fans don’t have to worry if he doesn’t make it this year as he should be a voted starter in the next couple of years. Not to mention, Springer’s contract is up following this year and the way that Springer plays right now is quite amazing. Houston better get ready to pay primo bucks for Springer because his current $550,000 salary is not going to be like that for much longer.
To vote: Text A5 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteSpringer
An update earlier today had the voting as:
— MLB (@MLB) July 6, 2016
Time for the National League’s Final Vote candidates, starting with San Francisco’s Brandon Belt
The very monstrous 6-foot-5, 220 pound, 1st baseman Brandon Belt has been a very solid piece to the offensive success for the San Francisco Giants this season. Belt, who is batting .297, has the MLB-best 26 doubles, as he has also powered three triples and 10 homers to his totals so far in 83 games for the Giants. Belt’s .906 OPS is also very impressive, which should also be considered in his selection. Belt, who has played 80 of his games this season at 1st base has had 771 chances and only seven errors (a .991 fielding percentage). Belt has been a consistent player for the Giants in the past couple years, but has never been named to an All-Star Game. The 28-year old is in some tough company in the National League behind starter Anthony Rizzo and reserves Paul Goldschmidt and Wil Myers (fellow National League West opponents). Is Belt more deserving than Goldschmidt or Myers? Not at all, but Belt has been having a very solid season, no matter if he is selected or not.
To vote: Text N1 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteBelt
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun’s name is notoriously known throughout the baseball world with much baggage, of course. The alleged PED user is on the All-Star ballot again, but this time in the Final Vote. The six-time all-star has been putting up insane numbers, like he did during his five consecutive year All-Star game appearances from 2008 to 2012. He owns a .322 batting average with 16 doubles and 13 homers while driving home 44 runs. The Brewers are in the same boat like the Tampa Bay Rays are, they’re in a loaded division and some of their stars are going unnoticed. Braun is also lost in the mix of all of the other All-Stars coming from the National League Central division. Braun, however, has been cutting down on his strikeouts as he only has 45 through 70 games, as he has had 113 and 115 over his past two seasons in 135 and 140 games, respectively. Braun has nine outfield assists in 582 2/3 innings in right field for the Brew Crew and only one error, which is quite impressive. Sadly, most people don’t take the fielding aspect of the game into consideration and that’s why Francisco Lindor and Brandon Crawford are not starting the All-Star Game this season.
To vote: Text N2 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteBraun
Arizona’s Jake Lamb
Jake Lamb has not been a household name amongst baseball fans until his current breakout season. The 25-year old left-handed swinging third baseman is holding a .292 batting average with 19 homers and an MLB-high seven triples, with 19 doubles. He does strike out a lot, as he has struck out 79 times in 82 games. Something to cloud over his knack of striking out is that along with the MLB high in triples, Lamb owns the league’s highest slugging percentage, .617. Another factor of Lamb’s game that needs to be improved on ASAP is his fielding. In 621 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, Lamb has 12 errors and has a .938 fielding percentage. Granted, Lamb is a young player learning the ropes of the league, as he has only played 205 games but he must learn to eliminate the errors from the game. His 2.9 WAR is fairly impressive for being so young and after having WAR numbers of -0.0 and 1.7 in his first two seasons with Arizona. Don’t worry, Jake Lamb will be an selected starter and he will wow the crowd in the near future.
To vote: Text N3 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteLamb
Pittsburgh’s Starling Marté
The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielding core of Starling Marté, Andrew McCutchen, and Gregory Polanco is downright lethal. No other trio of outfielders are as flashy and good as Marté, McCutchen, and Polanco are. You can argue with me and I will fight that the Pirates’ starting outfielders are the best in the entire league. Marté, is batting .320 with an on-base percentage of .365 and a slugging percentage of .471. Those numbers are downright amazing, especially for playing 78 games this season. The 27-year old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic has also scored 45 times, which is very productive for the Buccos. Another great aspect of Marté’s game that none of the National League nominees have is speed. Marté has 25 steals in 31 attempts (80.6% success rate), which is another very, very impressive statistic. Marté also owns a very solid 3.1 WAR after having three consecutive seasons with a WAR above 5.0, which is considered All-Star like. Keep an eye out for Starling Marté as the 2015 Gold Glover is looking to make an impact in the league and I’m sure he will.
To vote: Text N4 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #VoteMarte
Colorado’s Trevor Story
Trevor Story does have some story behind him (pun greatly intended). The replacement for Troy Tulowitki seems quite imminent after how Story began his rookie season in the MLB with the Colorado Rockies. Last season alone, Story combined to hit 20 home runs (10 with Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque) in 130 games. This season in 76 games Story already has 19. The 6-foot-1, 180 pound shortstop definitely has the same physique as Tulowitzki does, whom the Rockies traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes, which which did not last long in the Mile High City. Story wasn’t even supposed to be with the Rockies this season but with the entire Jose Reyes domestic abuse case going on, Story wanted to make an impact quick, and oh boy did he. One factor that Story needs to improve on is his strikeouts. In 537 games in the minor leagues, he struck out 630 times. This season alone, Story has 108. Don’t get me wrong, Story has been a great player for the Rockies and is a very strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, but he must cut down on his strikeouts first before being named to the All-Star Game.
P.S.: Sweet hashtag for Story.
To vote: Text N5 to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada); tweet: #StoryTime
Along with the American League update on Wednesday, the National League Voting was also released. The NL’s voting looks like:
— MLB (@MLB) July 6, 2016
If I had to place a vote for both sides of the Final Vote, I would have to put it towards Michael Saunders (#VoteCaptainCanada) and Starling Marte (#VoteMarte). Those two players really impress me a lot and I believe that they belong in San Diego on Tuesday evening. Don’t get me wrong, all 10 players listed definitely belong in the game, but in my opinion, Saunders and Marté are the ones that are most deserving.
Disagree or agree with my picks? Let me know what you think! Tweet me your thoughts: @mhaim1934