The current list of the top vote getters for the All-Star Game has been released and I'm forced to reconsider the eugenics movement. I could take issue with most of the votes, but today I'm going to focus on the National League Catcher.
There are only a handful of talented catchers in Major League Baseball and obviously the number is even smaller when limited to the NL. Four of the five top vote getters are in that upper echelon even if they aren't represented in quite the right order. The real problem from my standpoint is that the best catcher doesn't even crack the top five! The top five! No, really. Here they are:
1. Mike Piazza (NYM) - 447,259
2. Paul Lo Duca (FLA) - 291,123
3. Johnny Estrada (ATL) - 166,971
4. Yadier Molina (STL) - 143,671
5. Michael Barrett (CHI) - 130,409
To refresh the statheads' memories and to enlighten the ignorant, unwashed masses, here are the relevent stats for 2005 (all stats are from Baseball Prospectus with the exception of Secondary Average, which I calculated on the back of the envelope that my National Review renewal notice came in):
Paul Lo Duca
Ramon Hernandez leads the top vote getters in the following categories: batting average, slugging percentage, home runs (tied with Lo Duca & Piazza), isolated power, wins above replacement player, value over replacement player, and equivalent average.
Now, I understand that Mike Piazza is arguably the greatest hitting catcher to ever play, but he hasn't been that good and anyone who plays catcher the way he does should have to compete for votes as a first baseman or designated hitter or something. He's just awful.
Also, I'm aware that Yadier Molina has put up a sick 8 Fielding Runs Above Average and that he plays for St. Louis, but he's batting .257 with a secondary average of .112. .112! He has a VORP of 0.3. The San Diego Padres have at least four bench players with a higher VORP than that and at least one of them can strap on the catching gear (Fick).
Michael Barrett is putting up some pretty decent numbers, but they're not All-Star type numbers. The same goes for Johnny Estrada.
Paul Lo Duca, at least, leads catchers in On-Base Percentage and is tied for the lead in home runs, which is good for 156,136 votes fewer than Mike Piazza.
If you've voted for the All-Star Game and punched the ballot for a catcher other than Ramon Hernandez, consider a vasectomy and then go vote 25 times for deserving players.
Edit: It was brough to my attention moments after posting this that Jacob Luft of Sports Illustrated also has a sabermetric look at the All-Star Game here.
Edit: If you disagree, please make an argument (using statistics as that is the purpose of this site) detailing why you are correct and I am not. Thank you.