If you’re like me, you like filling out All-Star ballots. Here’s my latest…
Here we go…
There are tough calls all over the place. Cabrera certainly does the American League starter at third base—star quality counts; that’s one of the reasons fans have a voice —but the competition is ridiculous. Cabrera leads the American League in BaseballReference.com’s WAR, but Manny Machado is second, Evan Longoria fourth, Josh Donaldson seventh.
Adrian Beltre? He’s only the prototype for how a Major League third baseman ought to walk, talk, act, and most of all, perform. He has become The Man in a clubhouse that’s as solid as any in baseball. Maybe you’ve heard that new Ranger Lance Berkman has his fun with the Rangers over the outcome of the 2011 World Series.
Know this: Berkman does not kid Beltre. Beltre is outrageously good with the kids and a leader across the board in work ethic, production, etc. But he’s not to be crossed on certain things, and the 2011 World Series is one of those things.
How does Jim Leyland solve it as he puts his AL roster together? Does Beltre get left out? Can he afford to take four third basemen?
Longoria is like Beltre in that he has to be there. He, too, is a prototype Major Leaguer. And Machado and Donaldson—the kid and the converted catcher with the amazing athletic skills—are going to be two of the best stories at this year’s All-Star Game. I don’t know how he’s going to do it, but it feels like they all have to be there.
Leyland is going to have tough decisions at second base, too. Pedroia is my choice based on his all-around game even though Cano’s 16 home runs catch your attention. Pedroia is a bit better in other areas—20 doubles, 10 stolen bases, 42 walks. His defense is better.
Those two make for a good Yankees-Red Sox debate, but Howie Kendrick and Jason Kipnis also deserve spots on the team. Again, another strong position, another tough decision. Shortstop is like that, too. Leyland’s own guy, Jhonny Peralta, probably deserved the starting spot until maybe a week ago, but has been passed, barely, by Hardy, who is as fundamentally sound and as respected by his teammates as any player in the game.
There aren’t as many tough calls in the National League. Two of them are in the outfield where it’s easy to make a case for Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte over my three choices. Gerardo Parra is the surprise decision, and since he’s not on the ballot, he won’t be in the starting lineup. But he deserves to be. Hunter Pence and Jay Bruce should also be in the conversation for starting spots in the outfield.
Russell Martin has also been good enough to give Buster Posey a run for the backup catcher’s spot. Joey Votto is on the team regardless of whether he starts over Goldschmidt or not. Troy Tulowitzki would be the slam-dunk pick at short if he were healthy.