Since the All-Star game selection show will take place on Sunday night and fan voting ends in approximately 48 hours, I figured now would be a good time to roll out the All Star Prospectus for 2014. Much like all of my past efforts on the RSM site (March Madness Baseball Bracket), I seemed to have forgotten about this mid-season write-up I’ve done. Anyway, better late than never. 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.
34 players will make the AL All-Star team for the game to be played at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins on July 15th. The 9 starters and the 34th Man Selection will be determined by the fans.
Major League Baseball released its final update prior to the close of fan voting today, if the voting stays as is the AL will run out an interesting starting group in 2 weeks.
C Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Right out of the gate, the AL is probably going to cost a deserving All-Star a roster spot as Wieters leads Derek Norris of the A’s by just under 180,000 votes with Brian McCann of the Yankees just under 500,000 votes behind. Wieters has been injured most of the first half of the season playing in only 26 games, yet is in line for his first ever All-Star starting nod. Norris has been fantastic in the first half yet is a platoon player with John Jaso, while McCann has been sub-par in his first season in the AL.
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Cabrera, arguably the greatest right-handed hitter ever, has a comfortable lead of nearly 1.5 million votes on White Sox rookie sensation Jose Abreu. While the slugging Cuban has set the baseball world on fire in the first half, Cabrera who was the starting 3B for the AL last year should pack his bags for Minnesota.
2B Robinson Cano, Seattle
Even with the move from New York to the West Coast and the smaller market of Seattle, Cano has a comfortable lead of nearly 875,000 votes over Ian Kinsler of the Tigers. 2B is possibly the most talented AL position with the likes of Cano, Kinsler, Jose Altuve of the Astros, and the Red Sox own Dustin Pedroia. While all would be deserving all-stars, Cano’s history as well as a strong 2014 for the surprising Mariners makes him the pick.
3B Josh Donaldson, Oakland
Donaladson building off his 2013 campaign with strong first half leads by a wide margin of nearly 1.2 million votes over Adrian Beltre of the Rangers. While it is safe to assume that Donaldson will be the starter, Beltre and even perhaps Kyle Seager of the Mariners have put up equally as good if not better first half’s of the season.
SS Derek Jeter, New York
Call this a lifetime achievement vote a la Cal Ripken in 2001. While Jeter has put up respectable numbers in his final season, this is another starter that will likely cost another deserving player a roster spot. Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox who trails by nearly 600,000 votes has been the best AL SS most of the first half while Alcides Escobar of the Royals, Elvis Andrus of the Rangers, and Jose Reyes of the Blue Jays have all put up numbers better than Jeter.
LF Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland
CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
RF Jose Bautista, Toronto
In the OF, Bautista and Trout are safely in as they are currently the top 2 vote getters each with more than 4 million votes. Cespedes however only leads Melky Cabrera of the Blue Jays by just over 12,000 votes with Adam Jones of the Orioles and Michael Brantley of the Indians both within striking distance. It would not be shocking to see either Cabrera or Jones end up as the 3rd OFer based on the voting patterns of fans in Toronto and Baltimore. While a case could be made for Cespedes, Cabrera, Jones, and Brantley for being the 3rd OFer, Cespedes may have the weakest resume at the plate but his stellar defense throughout the first half could be the difference.
DH Nelson Cruz, Baltimore
Cruz has a comfortable margin of nearly 1 million votes over Big Papi and should end up with the starting nod, the Orioles fans do love to vote for all-stars. Apparently Cruz’s PED suspension of last year has impacted the fans less than Cruz’s 25 HRs. Meanwhile, Victor Martinez of the Tigers has put up the best season for DH’s.
C Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota, Mike Zunino, Seattle, Yan Gomes, Cleveland, Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay, Derek Norris, Oakland, John Jaso, Oakland
The selection of the back-up(s) at catcher is going to be a complete crapshoot. We’ll go with Perez as the pick. Although Suzuki as perhaps the lone hometown representative and Norris would not be surprise picks. Needless to say, neither of the Red Sox backstops received much consideration. How long until Christian Vazquez is in Boston?
1B Victor Martinez, Detroit, Jose Abreu, Chicago, Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto
Mike Napoli, Boston, Brandon Moss, Oakland, Albert Pujols, Los Angeles, Joe Mauer, Minnesota, Billy Butler, Kansas City, James Loney, Tampa Bay
Even though he has played DH all season, Victor Martinez is listed here as he has put up a monster first half, so too have Abreu and Encarnacion. Despite putting up a solid 1st half, injuries derailed Napoli’s candidacy.
2B Jose Altuve, Houston, Ian Kinsler, Detroit
Dustin Pedroia, Boston, Brian Dozier, Minnesota, Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles, Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay, Gordon Beckham, Chicago
As we mentioned above, 2B might be the most talented position in the AL. Altuve, who leads the AL in batting average and steals, easily makes the squad while Kinsler has quietly put up a very nice season to make the roster. Despite his recent hot streak, Dustin Pedroia does not have enough to make the all-star team this year.
3B Adrian Beltre, Texas, Kyle Seager, Seattle
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay, Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland, Brock Holt, Boston, Yangervis Solarte, New York
Beltre should probably be the AL starter and most likely would be if he had not spent time on the DL in the first half. Seager has been tremendous, especially at home and of late to help him onto the AL roster. Wunderkid Brock Holt despite his almost nightly heroics, came onto the scene too late to garner enough attention to make this team.
SS Alexei Ramirez, Chicago, Alcides Escobar, Kansas City
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles, JJ Hardy, Baltimore, Elvis Andrus, Texas, Jose Reyes, Toronto
Ramirez has cooled off from his tremendous April but should still make the roster based on his overall body of work, although Escobar and even Erick Aybar have both put up seasons worth of being on the all-star team. Despite flashes of all-star ability, Xander Bogaerts does not have enough to make the team.
OF Michael Brantley, Cleveland, Adam Jones, Baltimore, Melky Cabrera, Toronto, Jacoby Ellsbury, New York
Alex Rios, Texas, Nick Markakis, Baltimore, Brett Gardner, New York, Coco Crisp, Oakland, Dexter Fowler, Houston, George Springer, Houston, Leonys Martin, Texas
OF is always the hardest position for us to handicap, mostly because of how many players will be taken at the position. It is conceivable with Nelson Cruz being the DH that John Farrell can shuffle is line-up to move Cruz to the OF if need be. With so many other worthy candidates, we’ll take just 4 backup OFers. Brantley, Jones, and Cabrera could all end up starting in which case Yoenis Cespedes would join this list of back-ups. Ellsbury is the last addition and an interesting one for Red Sox fans. Despite having good numbers, Ellsbury does not immediately jump off the page as an all-star, call this a pick to thank Ells for 2 World Series titles. Rios and Springer could also find themselves in the Twin Cities in 2 weeks. The Sox OF ineptitude has been well documented, as such none received consideration.
Masahiro Tanaka, New York, Felix Hernandez, Seattle, Yu Darvish, Texas, Mark Buehrle, Toronto, Scott Kazmir, Oakland, Grant Richards, Los Angeles, Jon Lester, Boston, Rick Porcello, Detroit, Koji Uehara, Boston, Greg Holland, Kansas City, Glen Perkins, Minnesota, David Price, Tampa Bay
John Lackey, Boston, Jesse Chavez, Oakland, Corey Kluber, Cleveland, Sonny Gray, Oakland, Yordano Ventura, Kansas City, Chris Archer, Tampa Bay, Jered Weaver, Los Angeles, Jason Vargas, Kansas City, Phil Hughes, Minnesota, Max Scherzer, Detroit, James Shields, Kansas City, Chris Sale, Chicago, Sean Doolittle, Oakland, Cody Allen, Cleveland, Fernando Rodney, Seattle, David Robertson, New York, Joakim Soria, Texas, Dallas Keuchel, Houston, Dellin Betances, New York
Another position that is hard to handicap based on how many relievers will be chosen and which starters will be available. The easy choices are Tanaka and Hernandez. Darvish, Buehrle, Kazmir, Richards, Lester, and Price should all make the team. Especially, Price as being selected as the lone Devil Ray. However, any of them could be left off the roster as well to make room for other worthy starters. The relievers are another crapshoot, but Perkins as the lone Twin should get the nod along with Holland and Koji. An interesting name that gets squeezed out is Dellin Betances of the Yankees with his 76 K’s in only 48 innings.
So there you have it the RSM All-Star Prospectus for 2014. Obviously, given the season to date the Red Sox can only muster 2 pitchers on the roster.