tclakin

The Game 6 AL All-Star Ballot: Say Hey, Kid

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2009 at 4:34 pm
With the 2009 MLB All-Star game little more than a month away, it’s time for the first annual Game 6 All-Star ballot. I’ve been filling these things out since I was a little kid – since they handed out actual ballots at ballparks that you had to physically poke holes in – and I’ve narrowed the process down to a sweet science:

Vote for the guys you most want to watch play, for whatever reason.

Let’s face it, the MLB All-Star game is a popularity contest – that’s what it became as soon as baseball decided to leave the game up to a fan vote. Fans vote for their favorite players even though those players often aren’t those most deserving of an All-Star berth in any specific year. Now, whether that’s a good thing is a different discussion for a different day – it’s become a worthwhile topic with the “Should Manny be an All-Star?” debate raging – but today I’m simply expressing what I think is the best way to vote, given the current circumstances.

And I think it’s best to vote for the guys you most want to watch play on July 14th under the lights at Busch Stadium. Perhaps you want to watch them because you’ve followed them for years and don’t care what anyone else thinks (Manny), maybe there’s a nostalgia factor in your decision (Junior Griffey), or maybe a certain player is just having an absurd year and you feel he deserves a spot (Joe Mauer). But whatever the reason, there are guys out there who you simply enjoy watching play the game of baseball and those are the players you should vote for.

So, without Fred Adu, I present to you the 2009 Game 6 American League All-Star Ballot:

First Base: Miguel Cabrera, DET

Now, I’m sure I’ll take a lot of flak for this post from Red Sox fans. Why not Youkilis?? He’s only hitting .366, highest of any first baseman in the league! I’ll tell you why – I’d rather watch Cabrera play. There are a number of reasons for this. Miggy is a legitimate slugger with 500-foot power, he plays a good third base and he’s an entertaining athlete. Not that Youkilis isn’t these things, but – and this is key – I already get to watch Youk play every night. At the All-Star game, I’d like a little change of pace. Sure, I’d like for as many Red Sox players as possible to be recognized for their play, but at the same time I hate how the All-Star voting often turns into a Red Sox/Yankees love fest. Nothing brings out the card-carrying, Red Sox Nation bandwagoners like the All-Star game. At press time, Youkilis and Teixeira are leading the first base voting in the AL and I couldn’t be less surprised. Frankly, I’d rather let another guy have a shot and that’s why I’m voting for Miggy Cabrera.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, BOS

Sometimes I have to break my own rules. Pedroia, Red Sox or not, has quickly become one of my favorite players in the league and he is unquestionably the second baseman I would most enjoy watching on July 14th. The guy deserves it – he has put up All-Star numbers thus far (.326, 20 RBI’s) and, more importantly, he leaves his heart on the diamond every single night. He is the definition of an All-Star, and if you’ve got another guy more deserving I’d love to hear it. Ian Kinsler (.279, 13 hrs), the current leader? Not so much.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, NYY

This is one of those tough ones. Jason Bartlett, the Rays shortstop, is hitting .373 with 7 home runs and 30 RBI’s. He deserves to be in the All-Star game – that’s a fact. Do I want to watch Jason Bartlett start at short in Busch Stadium on July 14th? Not really. Would that night feel more like an All-Star affair with Jeter trotting out to short to start the game? Absolutely. Has Jeter earned that special treatment during his extraordinary career? Of course. And here’s the thing – his stats (.311, 7 hrs, 25 RBI’s) are actually pretty good. For a 34 year-old guy who, by all accounts, is fast approaching the twilight of his career, Jeter is having a pretty damn good year. And when a face-of-a-franchise type guy is having a pretty damn good year, he should always be in the All-Star game.

Third Base: Evan Longoria, TB

All-Star games are forever going to be synonymous with superstars, but there’s a segment of the professional baseball population that I always enjoy watching in these exhibitions:

Rising stars.

And Evan Longoria is nothing if not a rising star. Sure, sentimentally I want to vote for Mikey Lowell who is currently gutting out a very solid season but this time I have to go with Longoria. He deserves the chance to shine in the spotlight, buried as he usually is in the Tampa Bay black hole. I’m excited to see what he can do against the best.

Oh, and one last relevant rule: Never, under any circumstances, vote for Alex Rodriguez.

Catcher: Joe Mauer, MIN

Sometimes you just have to vote for the guy having the best year. This year, that guy is unavoidably Joe Mauer. He is annihilating his peers, with a .411 average and 32 RBI’s. Oh, and he also has 11 homers in the first 2 months of the season – 2 short of his career high – after missing April with back problems. Mauer has been on fire since returning from injury and he’s putting together what is shaping up to be an absolute monster year. He’s not my favorite catcher in the league (that would be Victor Martinez), but sometimes, to paraphrase Pedro Martinez, you just have to tip your cap and call Joe Mauer your daddy. This is one of those times.

Outfield: Jason Bay, BOS; Adam Jones, BAL; Ken Griffey, Jr., SEA

Ah, the Outfielders – a perennial favorite category of mine. The best part about this one is that you get to pick 3 players, so I can cover 3 of my quotas:

Jason Bay – The Hometown Quota. Bay has played out of his mind this year, hitting .288 with 15 homers and 49 RBI’s, and he has picked up much of the slack left by Manny’s departure. There are zero Red Sox fans who predicted that Bay would start 2009 with as much power as he has. He is hitting the ball tremendously and he deserves to play in the All-Star game.

Adam Jones – The Best Performance Quota. Jones has had a stellar year so far, perhaps the best of all AL outfielders, with a .344 average, 11 homers and 36 RBI’s. He edges out annual favorite Ichiro Suzuki (.352, 5, 16)  in both the homers and RBI’s category and thus gets the nod from me. Knowing voter tendencies, however, there is almost no chance Jones sniffs the starting lineup on July 14th. Again, not a good thing or a bad thing – it’s just the nature of the beast.

Junior

Junior

Ken Griffey Jr. – The Nostalgia Quota. The Nostalgia quota is, of course, my favorite quota and who better to fill it than my favorite baseball player of all-time? The best storyline of the early 2009 season, as far as I’m concerned, is the Kid’s return to Seattle. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up (with the rest of Seattle) when he hit a home run on Opening Day in Minnesota. Griffey belongs in navy and teal (or Northwest Green, according to Mariners.com) and I for one feel like a little kid again every time I see him take the field in a Mariners uniform. I’ve all but forgotten his injury-ridden years in Cincinnati. Do Griffey’s 2009 numbers (.208 avg, 14 RBI’s, and 5 goosebump-inducing hrs) warrant an All-Star berth? No, but I really don’t care – there is not one single player I’d rather see play in Busch Stadium this summer than Junior Griffey. If you say otherwise, I caution you not to anger the Baseball Gods. I also encourage you to vote, and vote often, because he currently sits in the 4th spot behind Bay, Josh Hamilton (who’s hitting .240, by the way) and…you guessed it, Ichiro.

So that about does it for the American League ballot. Back tomorrow with my favorites from the National League.

Now get on http://vote.mlb.com and punch a ballot for the Kid. To quote Col. Nathan R. Jessep, I believe he’s earned it.

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  1. How could you not vote for YOUKKKKK!!???

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