34 players will make the AL All-Star team to be played July 10th in Kansas City. The 9 Starters and the Final Selection will be determined by the fans. The first release of voting results was announced on Tuesday. Texas Rangers fans are stuffing the ballot box full as currently Josh Hamilton, Adrian “Don't Touch My Head” Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Sox killer Mike Napoli are in line to start.
In this post, we will look at the potential for AL All-Stars based on each team needing a representative and estimating who will end up as the top vote getters. We will also discuss the prospects of the Sox to make the squad.
C Mike Napoli, Texas
Napoli has a sizable lead over the Orioles' Matt Wieters with the Twins' Joe Mauer in 3rd. I do not foresee Napoli losing this lead based on the Orioles and Twins being smaller markets, however if one of these two will make a run at it I think Mauer on name recognition has a better shot.
1B Prince Fielder, Detroit
Prince leads Mark Teixeira by 330,000 votes. While Yankee fans will probably make a large push in the final month of voting, I think Fielder can hold him off. Paul Konerko of those other Sox, arguably has the best numbers of any first baseman in the AL is only 350,000 votes back but probably doesn't have the fan support or name recognition to make a run at the starting spot.
2B Robinson Cano, New York
Ian Kinsler currently lead Cano by 280,000 votes. I think however that given Cano's fan base and his name recognition from last years Home Run Derby will vault him to the top spot when voting ends. Our own Dustin Pedroia is a distant 3rd, currently being doubled up and then some by Kinsler. Come on Sox fans stuff that ballot box for Pedey!
3B Adrian Beltre, Texas
Adrian currently leads Detroit's Miguel Cabrera by 293,000 votes with Tampa's Evan Longoria and A-Rod next. I don't see any of the trailing candidates getting enough influx of voters to catch Beltre.
SS Derek Jeter, New York
Shocker here in that Jeter, with the 2nd most AL votes overall, leads by almost 700,000 votes over Texas' Elvis Andrus. J.J. Hardy (Baltimore), Alcides Escobar (KC), and Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland) round out the top 5, and combined barely would edge out Andrus for 2nd. No love for Mike Aviles, come on?
LF Josh Hamilton, Texas
CF Curtis Granderson, New York
RF Jose Bautista, Toronto
Hamilton is the leading vote getter in either league. That should hold true through the end of voting. Granderson has a sizable lead over Nelson Cruz for the 2nd starting spot and Joey Bats trails Cruz by 62,000 votes. I see Canadian baseball fans and the HR prowess of Bautista being enough to get him into the starting line-up.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi leads Texas' Michael Young by 150,000 votes in this two horse race. The fact that Rangers fans have already been stuffing the box is somewhat concerning but, that Papi is still leading leads me to believe that he will remain the starter.
C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
AJ Pierzynski, Chicago, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston, Matt Wieters, Baltimore
While Mauer might not be having the best season for catchers in the AL, he gets this spot because the Twins need a representative. Pierzynski and Salty Dog both are deserving candidates but at this point are getting squeezed out because of a poor rule. Right now, Wieters is a fringe candidate at best.
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago, Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto
Billy Butler, KC, Adam Dunn, Chicago
Konerko leads the AL in Batting Average and is 2nd in OPS. Positionally he is near the top in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, and nearly every other category. Encarnacion is killing it at the Rogers Centre and is 3rd in the AL in home runs. Dunn, the strikeout machine, is 2nd in the AL in home runs has a fair chance to crack the squad and Butler with a solid month of June might find himself in the final player voting where being from the host team might help him. Butler could also play his way on if some of his teammates listed below falter. Adrian Gonzalez at this time has no shot of making the All-Star team. Of course a tear like last year headed into the break could change that. Let's go Gonzo!
2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
Kelly Johnson, Toronto, Dustin Pedroia, Boston, Michael Young, Texas
This was a tough choice, Johnson has had a very nice season for Toronto. However, with the Indians fighting for the AL Central lead and Toronto already getting Bautista and Encarnacion on the team, Kipnis is the choice. Of course, Ron Washington could take another Ranger in Michael Young. Pedey looks to be an odd man out this season, unless of course the thumb is 100% and he goes Laser Show on the AL for the rest of the month.
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit, Mike Moustakas, Kansas City, Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles
Third base in the AL this season is full of outstanding All-Star candidates. Cabrera is arguably the best player in all of baseball and is probably more deserving of the start than Beltre, except for that whole playing defense thing. Trumbo is having a terrific season, although we don't see it much here on the east coast. Moustakas is having a nice season for the host Royals and gets the nod for the fans, although putting up some solid numbers in June would help his cause. However, he could get bumped by his aforementioned teammate Billy Butler. Neither of the Sox 3B's will make this squad as Youkilis doesn't have the numbers and Willie Middle doesn't have the plate appearances to even qualify for the league leaders, not that that is a pre-requisite.
SS Elvis Andrus, Texas, Mike Aviles, Boston
Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland, Alcides Escobar, Kansas City, J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
Andrus is having a very nice season for Texas, 3rd among AL shortstops in OPS and ranked near the top in most offensive categories. Aviles as we know has put together a very fine season at short (Marco who?). For know, he makes the squad although Cabrera could end up squeezing him before the break. However, given the lack of tremendous OF talent, Aviles versatility could help him make this team.
OF Josh Reddick, Oakland, Adam Jones, Baltimore
Josh Willingham, Minnesota, Alejandro De Aza, Chicago, Austin Jackson, Detroit, Nelson Cruz, Texas, Dayan Viciedo, Chicago, Mike Trout, Los Angeles, Alex Rios, Chicago, Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay
We all know that the Sox outfield is in shambles, Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik might be our best OFer's right now offensively! I am seeing that as a trend in the AL, as much of the talent is either slumping or on the DL. Even starter Joey Bats is hitting under .250. It's Hamilton, Granderson, and everybody else. With that said, I'm sure some players will step up in June and there will be more than 2 back-up outfielders on this squad and there is a large list of potential candidates. For now it appears that Jones is a lock hitting over .300 with a .950 OPS and 16 HR's. As well as former Sox Josh Reddick (14 HR's), the lone A's representative. No Red Sox OFer will make this team, sorry to Nava, Byrd, Ross, Podsednik, Sweeney, McDonald, Lin, Anderson, and Repko. Hell, Gonzo has a better shot of making it as an outfielder than anyone listed there.
SP Chris Sale, Chicago
SP Jake Peavy, Chicago
SP Yu Darvish, Texas
SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
SP CJ Wilson, Los Angeles
SP Jason Hammel, Baltimore
SP David Price, Tampa Bay
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle
Jason Vargas, Seattle, Derek Lowe, Cleveland, CC Sabathia, New York, Brandon Morrow, Toronto, Felix Doubront, Boston, Brandon McCarthy, Oakland, Tommy Milone, Oakland, Jeremy Hellickson, TB
You might ask, “How are the White Sox in 1st Place?” Great question, the answer pitching even with Perfect Phil Humber currently 2-3 and sporting a 5.68 ERA. Sale and Peavy are both in the top ten in ERA, WHIP, K's, as well as being a combined 13-3. Darvish has been as good as advertised in his big league debut (7-3, 3.34, 73 K's), his skipper rewards him with an All-Star nod. Prior to going on the DL with a back injury, Jered Weaver was arguably the best pitcher in the AL with a Top 5 ranking in ERA, WHIP, and BAA, not to mention 6-1 with a no-hitter. Rangers fans might be disgruntled with CJ Wilson signing with the Angels but Ron Washington rewards his former ace by putting him on this squad. Only 6-4, Wilson leads the league in BAA at .190 and is 3rd in ERA. Would the real Jason Hammel please stand up? This guy his been a fantastic pick-up for the 1st place O's with a 6-2 record, an ERA under 3.00, and near the top 10 in K's. Sox fans know that the Devil Rays do it with pitching as well and David Price is clearly the ace of their staff (remember when Jon Lester was better than him?), he is tied for the league lead in Wins along with a sparkling 2.44 ERA. The last 2 starters chosen make it more on reputation than numbers, Verlander the reigning Cy Young and MVP and King Felix. Both have some of, if not the best stuff in the bigs. However, Verlander is just 5-4 with great peripherals and Hernandez is just 4-4. I could easily see both of these guys not being chosen. Jason Vargas could take the lone Seattle spot from Hernandez with 7 wins a similar ERA and a better WHIP. If the Tigers continue to slump, Derek Lowe and CC Sabathia with 7 wins each, Brandon Morrow with 6 wins and excellent WHIP, or even Felix Doubront (6-2, 3.75) could steal Verlander's spot. Outside of Doubie, the Sox starters are not close to being All-Star worthy. McCarthy, Milone, and Hellickson are all fringe candidates at this point.
RP Chris Perez, Cleveland
RP Fernando Rodney, TB
RP Jim Johnson, Baltimore
RP Jonathan Broxton, KC
RP Joe Nathan, Texas
Alfredo Aceves, Boston, Koji Uehara, Texas, Scott Downs, Anaheim, Ryan Cook, Oakland, Pedro Strop, Baltimore, Scott Atchison, Boston, Jake McGee, TB, Darren O'Day, Baltimore
The AL relievers are filled with small names gone are the Rivera's and Papelbon's of the last few years. Instead we get the top 3 MLB leaders in saves, Perez (18/19), Rodney (17/18), and Johnson (17/18). All have been lights out for most of the year, especially Rodney with a 1.03 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 25/4 K/BB ratio. Interestingly, both blown saves by Rodney and Johnson have come at the hands of the Sox and Perez blew his first chance of the season. Broxton, all 3 bills of him, has been effective for the Royals and gets a nod for the hosts. Lastly, Ron Washington takes his own closer in Joe Nathan who has bounced back from Tommy John surgery with 12 saves and a 28/2 K/BB ratio. These closers all look to be solidly on the squad as other than Fettucine, the rest of the listed are set-up or middle men. However, the AL has taken one of these frequently in recent years (Okajima, Robertson, Aaron Crow). I see Uehara as the leader in the clubhouse for this group again being a Ranger, although Washington might take Downs just to use him for a couple innings to hurt the Angels in the 2nd half. For the Sox bullpen which has been very effective in the last month, Aceves has the best shot of making it although we can all hope Scratch My Atch continues to stay in contention for a bid by pitching well.