On Monday I took a look at positional players who were currently leading in fan voting for the National League All-Star team. As I expected, there were a few players that I personally thought were currently being "snubbed" and weren't guaranteed spots for the team (Prince Fielder, Russell Martin), but there were also a few guys who were leading in fan voting that I believe deserved starting jobs (Barry Bonds, Jose Reyes).
Today I'll take a look at the American League team and determine just if the fans are voting for the deserving player:
Current Leader: Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
My Pick: Jorge Posada, New York Yankees
Posada is a little more than 100,000 votes behind Pudge in the fan voting for the starting American League catcher, but if he continues to play the way he is, that margin is going to shrink. In terms of VORP (31.2 runs) and EqA (.318), Posada is tops among A.L. catchers. In fact, his VORP is currently 20.7 runs higher than Rodriguez, by no means a negligible difference. Posada's bat alone has generated two more wins in the standings than that of Rodriguez and there is no doubt in my mind that he should be the starting catcher for his leagues All-Star Team.
Current Leader: David Oritz, Boston Red Sox
My Pick: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
To me this is a toss up between Ortiz and Casey Kotchman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Ortiz bat (33.8 VORP as DH) has been a bit more valuable than Kotchman's (27.2 VORP as 1B) thus far, but Kotchman has been fielding the ball very cleanly from first base (106 Rate2) playing the position daily. This is a real close one. Ortiz WARP1 is just a shade below Kotchman's (3.1 wins compared to Kotchman's 3.2 wins), but I'll give Ortiz the benefit of the doubt because of his bat.
Current Leader: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
My Pick: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
I'll side with the fans here again and take Jeter over the likes of Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Guillen who are each having very good seasons. Jeter currently leads all A.L. shortstops in VORP (30.4 runs), EqA (.303), batting average (.343) and on-base percentage (.421). If not for Carlos Guillen's so-so defense (86 Rate2), he might be the best choice here. But Jeter is clearly proving he's still an elite player at 33 years of age, out-producing just about every shortstop in the league in every offensive category. And by the way, he's also fielding the ball very well for the third year in a row (113 Rate2).
Current Leader: Placido Polanco, Detroit Tigers
My Pick: B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
This is another one that could go a few different ways, but I'm going with the recently injured Upton as of right now. Despite the fact he is currently hitting .334, I can't bring myself to vote for Polanco who has only hit one home run the entire year. Upton currently leads all A.L. second basemen in VORP (24.6 runs) and EqA (.316), but as we already know he is struggling mightily with the glove (87 Rate2). Still, the next best thing to Upton in the American League is Brian Roberts of the Orioles and he too is struggling with the glove (92 Rate2). Because I'm having a difficult time finding a more well-rounded and productive second basemen in the A.L., my vote goes to Upton.
Current Leader: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
My Pick: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
A-Rod leads the Red Sox Mike Lowell in total votes by nearly one million tallies. This race is a no contest, nor should it be anything other than that. Rodriguez slumped a bit through May (.235/.361/.422), but he's heating up in June and might be the leagues MVP thus far. He currently leads all A.L. third baseman in VORP (42.1 runs) and EqA (.339) and despite criticism around the game, Rate2 (104) thinks he's fielding the ball pretty well. Lowell and Toronto's Troy Glaus, the number two and number three A.L. third baseman in terms of VORP, combined (39.2 runs) cannot top Rodriguez mark of 42.1 runs. There is virtually no doubt that Rodriguez has this spot locked up.
The Starting Outfield:
My Picks: Magglio Ordonez (Detroit Tigers), Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners), Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox)
With all due respect to Vlad Guerrero, who is having an MVP-caliber type of season, there is no reason why Magglio Ordonez should not be the starting right fielder for the A.L. All-Stars. Ordonez currently leads all of baseball in VORP (45.8 runs), a figure that is a little more than ten runs better than that of Guerrero (35.0 VORP). His EqA of .351 is second in baseball to only Barry Bonds (.363) and I know plenty of baseball fans would argue he is the MVP of this league. Other Tigers such as Polanco and Rodriguez are represented well on the ballot, but Tiger fans really should start focusing on getting Ordonez a starting spot on the team. That he really deserves.
I'll take Ichiro in center field for the A.L. All-Stars, but Cleveland's Grady Sizemore is a close second. Sizemore's VORP of 31.2 runs narrowly trails that of Ichiro (33.7 runs) and their EqA's are even closer; Ichiro leads all center-fielders in the league at .308, but Sizemore is right there at .307. What separates the two is Ichiro's outstanding defense in center (109 Rate2) and Sizemore's not-so-outstanding defense (96 Rate2) this year. Once again, another close pick, but Ichiro has been just a hair better so far this season.
It's too bad Guerrero can't play left field; he's heads and shoulders better than every left fielder in the American League. With that said, I'm going with Ramirez who's having a bit of a down year power-wise hitting .290/.394/.446. His VORP of 16.9 runs tops A.L. left-fielders, but four right-fielder in the league (including Ordonez) each have higher VORP's and probably deserve the starting job over Manny. Still this is all the A.L. has to offer at this position and to me, Manny deserves the starting job.