Alternate Title: I Ramble My Way Through Voting For All-Stars
We’re sitting a little under a month away from the All-Star Game, so it’s time to take a look at who deserves the call from our Milwaukee Brewers. I think you can look at the All-Star Game in two ways – first, simply the most talented players should go, or second, the players having the best seasons should go. Let’s take a look at it from each of these points of view.
Brewer On Ballot: Prince Fielder (3rd)
As much as the Cardinals can annoy us, both with their play and with their uptight attitude, there’s no denying the talent of Albert Pujols. He’s been the best hitter in the NL for a decade, and he’s up to the same this season, with a .308/.423/.558 line, which is actually a bit of a down year for him. That’s the best line among NL first baseman, with Joey Votto of the Reds close behind at .307/.405/.553.
Those two are clearly All-Stars to me, looking at it either way. Given that the All-Star Game is in an AL park this year, there’s a good chance that a third 1B goes. Prince Fielder, despite his down start to the season, has an argument as his .401 projected wOBA is second only to Pujols among NL 1B. I wouldn’t expect him to get in, though, as Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff, and Adrian Gonzalez are all having better seasons with the bat. Of those, Adrian Gonzalez would be my choice, as he’s been consistently excellent and also plays excellent defense. Prince could play his way in with a strong month of June, though, so don’t count him out yet.
My starter: Albert Pujols
My reserves: Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez
Brewer On Ballot: Rickie Weeks (4th)
Unfortunately for Miller Park Drunk, Rickie Weeks simply hasn’t played at an All-Star level this year. I’ll take his .346 wOBA and 115 wRC+ at the premium position any day, but that’s just not enough to outclass Chase Utley and Brandon Phillips. Utley is actually on a bit of a down year – his .371 wOBA is his lowest since 2004 – but he’s projected to be the best hitting 2B in the majors by about 30 points. Given that he’s 2nd in NL 2B wOBA right now, he has to be included from either point of view.
The second spot comes down to either Brandon Phillips or Kelly Johnson. Johnson is projected as the better hitter (.371 wOBA to .352), but Phillips is a much better fielder. As far as this season’s stats, it’s a wash. Johnson’s hitting slightly better, and Phillips is fielding better. Since we like offense in the All-Star Game, I’ll go with Johnson here.
My starter: Chase Utley
My reserve: Kelly Johnson
Brewer On Ballot: Alcides Escobar (NR)
Escobar is having a poor offensive season, to say the least. His OBP sits below .300 and he doesn’t have anything near the power to compensate. It’s been a pretty boring year for NL shortstops – Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki are head and shoulders above the competition once again.
My starter: Hanley Ramirez
My reserve: Troy Tulowitzki
Brewer on Ballot: Casey McGehee (4th)
Earlier this season McGehee would’ve had an argument, but his numbers have really fallen back to the pack. He’s currently playing at a slightly above average pace, looking at about a 2.5 WAR season at this point – All-Stars typically have about 4-5 WAR or higher. To me, the obvious choice for 3B is Ryan Zimmerman. He’s already at 2.9 WAR, has a career high and NL 3B high .397 wOBA, and is probably the best fielder at the position too. David Wright has also come on strong lately, and he’s clearly been one of the best players in the Major Leagues for the last few years.
My starter: Ryan Zimmerman
My reserve: David Wright
Brewer On Ballot: Gregg Zaun (NR)
Between the injured Zaun, George Kottaras, and Jon Lucroy, there’s nothing even approaching the All-Star Game here, despite how big a George Kottaras fan I am. Miguel Olivo is having a huge year in Colorado (133 wRC+), although it seems to be highly luck based (he’s running a .391 BABIP). He would have to be a pick if we look at this year alone. On talent, I’d take Brian McCann (.370 projected wOBA) and Geovany Soto (.364). Yadier Molina’s hitting appears to have fallen off – his strikeouts are way up – and I don’t think his defense is quite enough to push him over the harder hitting catchers.
My starter: Brian McCann
My reserve: Miguel Olivo
Brewers On Ballot: Ryan Braun (1st), Carlos Gomez (15th), Jim Edmonds (13th)
Ryan Braun leads the pack, and even though he might not be the best outfielder in the NL, he certainly deserves a spot in the All-Star Game. His .393 projected wOBA trails only Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier, and his .383 wOBA is quite good despite what most people would call a down season. Ethier has had a fantastic year in LA, and certainly deserves a starting spot. It gets interesting after that, as a number of players have had shockingly good starts, such as Marlon Byrd, Josh Willingham, Andres Torres, and Colby Rasmus. Then we have rookie phenom Jason Heyward, Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday, Diamondbacks young gun Justin Upton, Phillies mainstay Jayson Werth, and budding Pirates star Andrew McCutchen.
It’s really hard to go wrong here, and there’s a good chance that six of these guys make the team after the Final Vote. Torres is out for me, as he’s very unlikely to continue his performance, as is Marlon Byrd to a lesser extent. Holliday’s on a slightly down year, which is the only pretext I need to exclude a Cardinal. The same pretext must exclude Justin Upton and his .335 wOBA. Willingham is the worst fielder in the group, which makes him my last elimination.
Corey Hart, who has no spot on the ballot due to Jim Edmonds’s opening day start, will certainly warrant some discussion if his crazy season remains at the same pace for another three weeks or so. However, he’s still not getting on base enough nor is he playing good defense at a very easy spot in right field. As such, he’s only on pace for 2.5 WAR, much like Casey McGehee. His NL leading home run total may put him in the game, but given the fact that he’s not projected to keep it up nor is his season as good as his HR total would suggest, I wouldn’t put him in the All-Star Game.
My starters: Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward, Andre Ethier
My reserves: Jayson Werth, Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus