Since All-Star voting is a complete joke (read: fans, coaches, players, writers, and 98% of everyone involved with baseball are idiots), figured I’d throw my weight around here. So uh, yeah, this team is meant to represent the best of the first half which, while making me cringe, gives some sort of validity to putting Marco Scutaro on anything with the word “star” attached. (Editors note: 1 player was selected from each team, like the real All-Star game).
Running Downhill’s American League All-Star Selections!
C – Joe Mauer (MIN) – At first I was going to get all self-righteous about Joe Mauer not having enough plate appearances to actually qualify for any sort of mid-season accolades, but turns out there’s only like 8 dudes that qualify to begin with, and with the exception of Victor Martinez, it’s a bunch of bed-shitters (i.e. Kurt Suzuki (seashell necklace), Molina Bros Pizzeria (2x fat, bad), AJ Pierzynski (swings at first pitch every AB), Russ Mart (no homers), Geo Soto (high), Jason Kendall (not allowed), etc.). So yeah. Mauer. He missed an entire month and he’s got a .467 wOBA while leading catchers in just about every category, especially height of body and sideburns. What did you expect, Landon Powell?
1B – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – Apologies to some very excellent 1B’s (i.e. Morno, Miggy, Tex), but Boston’s leader in most disgusting goatee and batting stance is also fucking people up this year, and doing it on both sides (.418 wOBA leads the AL, 3.1 UZR is 5th in AL). No one is even close to his dual dominance in 2009, which is impressive considering how goofy his stance and swagger is. He doesn’t even walk that much anymore, yo!
2B – Ben Zobrist (TB) – What’s even more sad, is that it’s not even close. Zob has come out of nowhere (Eureka, Illinois represent!), sporting a ludicrous .421 wOBA, which is BEST IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. He’s got 16 home runs. That’s more than 5x as many as Dusty Pedroia. Dude’s been a machine. Oh, and his 7.0 UZR leads all 2B. As Metallica said, once, “You know it’s sad but true.”
3B – Evan Longoria (TB) – I’m tempted to put Youkilis here, too, but that would only work if the All-Star Game were a Paul Verhoeven movie. So I’ll stick with the official selection, 2nd year sensation Evan Longoria, who despite forgetting how to hit the entire month of June, still owns the American League’s highest wOBA at .388. Not bad, until you remember that Miggy plays 1B now, and his toughest competition is Scott Rolen and a bunch of position converts (Peralta, Young, Inge). Evan’s defense has been outstanding to boot (8.3 UZR is 4th best in MLB), so this is pretty much a no-brainer. And he’s handsome, kind of.
SS – Derek Jeter (NYY) – All hail the ever improving defense of Derek Jeter, who, despite all those suspect Gold Gloves, is actually having a league average year at shortstop! Congratulations Derek, you’re officially not the worst fielding everyday shortstop. This a milestone. Really. Oh, and the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer has found his bat again this year, posting a .382 wOBA with 10 (!) home runs. If I didn’t love offense so much, I might consider the living bobble-head Marco Scutaro in this slot, whose been the best fielding SS in the AL this year.
OF – Torii Hunter (LAA) – In a shocking turn of events (I think?), Tor-2 has been a pretty average to bad fielder this year. Which I guess makes sense, since he’s ascended into his mid-30s at this point, which on the flipside, has made one of the more consistently decent hitting outfielders an outstanding one so far this year. His .407 wOBA is the highest for qualifying outfielders not named Ben Zobrist, and uh, yeah, that’s pretty good. White Sox angst will always make me hate the always overrated Hunter, but hats off to him so far in this 2k9.
OF – Carl Crawford (TB) – More Rays! And no, it’s not because of the insane 41 stolen bases (at 85% success rate, gtfo). Crawford is not only having his best offensive year (.379 wOBA), but the defense, as usual, is stellar (6.5 UZR). He’s a dynamic player who can wreak havoc on the base paths, always has been, and in the past it’s just been a matter of whether or not he can get on base. Well, his walk rate is way up this year, giving him a .371OBP, significantly higher than his career .333 mark. Not sure if he can keep it up, but that’s not what this is about. This is about a player finally living up to all the hype, half-season or not.
OF – Jason Bay (BOS) – This final slot was rough. Many suitable candidates here, but none eye-popping. Ichiro, Big League Choo, Cruz, Lind, Granderson, Abreu, Damon, Zobrist (lol), and even The Big Fragu are all suitable candidates, but this is more of a personal choice. I don’t particularly like Jason Bay, and his brutal defense puts his RAR (Runs Above Replacement) at about 14th in the AL. Before the season, I predicted Bay to win the AL MVP. Not that I thought he would be the best player, not by a long shot, but more as a testament to how predictable baseball is, and especially the players/coaches/media. So we’re at the halfway point, Bay’s been selected to the All-Star game, and leads the AL in RBI with 71. Of course we all know that RBIs are situational so they don’t really mean much as an individual measurement, but ya know, you get my point. 1st place Red Sox. RBI leader. East Coast bias. Etc. Long live Jason Bay for AL MVP.
SP – Zack Greinke (KC) – Sure, he’s slowed down a bit since his otherwordly start, but it’s not like you can take that away from him, unless you’re one of those assholes (i.e. sportswriters) who believe in theories like “doing it when it matters” (fact: everything a player does counts, no matter when it is). So, uh yeah. What’s more to say? Go read that Joe Posnanski SI cover story, it’s much more interesting than anything I’ll write here. Like, he’s good. Really good. He was depressed. Now he’s not. Maybe. He used to sleep with a bat. Either way, he’s been incredible. He eats Chipotle almost everyday, which is something I can get down with. He’ll sometimes amuse himself by throwing 50mph curve balls. He’s weird. He’s human. He’s a tale of redemption, and stuff like that.
The rest of the best:
SP – Justin Verlander (DET) – Is it just me or have his pants gotten a bit baggier? They used to be so tight.
SP – Roy Halladay (TOR) – Looks Canadian, but really isn’t.
SP – Felix Hernandez (SEA) – The King’s finally arrived, and he’s still younger than me. (sigh)
SP – Edwin Jackson (DET) – Gross, but can’t be denied.
SP – Mark Buehrle (CHI) – A brilliant return to mid-decade form by the hick from Missouri.
SP – Josh Beckett (BOS) – Yeah, sure, whatever.
SP – Jon Lester (BOS) – Seriously look at his last month or so.
RP – Joe Nathan (MIN) – Is anyone more consistent/good?
RP – Andrew Bailey (OAK) – Absolutely filthy. Big dude, too, and you know what that means.
RP – David Aardsma (SEA) – Huge year for the former laughing stock of both north and southside Chicago.
RP – JP Howell (TB) – Left handed AND good!
RP – Mariano Rivera (NYY) – Uh, 42 strikeouts and 3 walks. Uh…
C – Victor Martinez (CLE) – If I had any balls I’d have picked Napoli here.
1B – Justin Morneau (MIN) – Boring but good! Love that post-swing rodeo thing he does, just like Josh Fields.
1B – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – Babe Ruth for the new millenium. The gym? Fuck it, let’s go to Hot Dougs.
2B – Ian Kinsler (TEX) – Like Jeff Kent, but less racist?
3B – Brandon Inge (DET) – Detroit’s in first place somehow, right?
SS – Jason Bartlett (TB) – This makes me want to barf.
OF – Juan Rivera (LAA) – I liked it better when he had braces, or a broken leg.
OF – Franklin Guitierrez (SEA) – I’m not sure people realize how good at defense The Big Fragu really is.
OF – Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – All aboard the Choo Choo train.
OF – Adam Jones (BAL) – Impressive youngster, but only here b/c I HAD to pick an Oriole (sorry Nick!).
UT – Aaron Hill/Marco Scutaro (TOR) – The two headed monster!!!!!!
Apologies to Teix, Branyan, Rolen, Cruz, Figgins, Granderson, Pedroia (psych!), Abreu, Konerko, Dye, Cano, and others having pretty good years, and you know, everyone else I left off who is good.