Baseball Bloggers Association is to take part in various voting processes throughout the year. This includes voting on the Hall-of-Fame candidates, the end of the season awards in each league, etc. It is almost time for the Mid-Summer Classic and there is much debate that can occur in regards to All-Star voting. What makes one player better than another? Should defense be taken into account? Is one half season of great baseball enough? Should the second half of last season be considered when voting?
All those things being considered, here is my votes in the AL and NL for the 2011 All-Star Game.
First Base: AL, Adrian Gonzalez; NL, Prince Fielder
Gonzalez seems to be having little trouble adjusting in his transition to the American League. He is leading all of baseball in both batting average and runs batted in. His homerun total is also good enough to be in the top 10 in the American League. Fielder's having an remarkable season in the NL with power numbers that are close to leading the league. He has also been able to keep his BA around the .300 mark.
Second Base: AL, Robinson Cano; NL, Rickie Weeks
Cano finds himself as the only AL second baseman with double digits in homeruns. He also has more RBI than the other candidates while keeping the highest batting average among AL second baseman. Weeks finds himself near the top in all of the major categories when ranked against the other NL second baseman. He has the highest batting average, most runs scored, and most HR compared to his other counterparts in the NL second baseman pool.
Shortstop: AL, Asdrubal Cabrera; NL, Jose Reyes
Cabrera has separated himself from the other SS in the AL with his offensive and defensive play in the 2011 season. He has been a star on a surprise team that has found itself at the top of the Central Division for most of the first half of the season. The choice between Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki is one of the hardest to make for the starting role for the NL All-Stars. Reyes provides a spark plug at the top of the line-up to start the game and Tulowitzki is a good bat to have off the bench later in the game. Otherwise, it is a flip of the coin.
Third Base: AL, Adrian Beltre; NL, Placido Polanco
There are Yankees and Red Sox players that could be picked ahead of Beltre but his offense and defense can stand-up against many of the other players at this position. Beltre's recent run of outstanding defense at Target Field might have put him over the top for myself. Can Tulowitzki start at 3B for the NL? There are few NL options at 3B that have stood out in the 2011 campaign. My pick went to Polanco because his stats are near the top in most categories for 3B and his team has a five game lead in their division.
Catcher: AL, Alex Avila; NL, Brian McCann
Avila is having a surprise year for the Tigers that puts him at the top of the leaderboard for catchers in the AL. His batting average is the only one above the .300 mark and he leads catchers in runs batted in. The Tigers have also fought their way to the top of the division as the All-Star Game approaches. The injury to Buster Posey could put McCann in place to start the All-Star Game for the NL. There are other worthy candidates that could get the start over McCann. But the combination of offensive output and name recognition, should put him at the top of the NL catcher pile.
Designated Hitter: AL, David Ortiz
Due to injury, this isn't much of a contest. Earlier in the year it would have been easy to make a case for Jason Kubel of the Twins or Travis Hafner of the Indians. My heart would like to put both of these players ahead of Mr. Ortiz but the stats don't lie.
Outfield: AL, Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Cuddyer; NL, Matt Kemp, Lance Berkman, Ryan Braun
Bautista has followed up his outstanding 2010 season with another great start to the 2011 year. By most accounts he has been the best player in the American League to this point and would probably be the frontrunner for the AL MVP. Ellsbury adds outstanding defense and a wide-range of offensive skills to a line-up. I had to squeak one Twin into the starting line-up. Cuddyer's recent hot streak has put him into consideration for the AL All-Star squad. Too bad his poor start to the season held his numbers back for being what they could have been. Kemp has been one of the few bright spots on a bad Dodger's team. He gives fans in southern California one reason to come out to the ballpark. Berkman's resurgence to start the 2011 season is something that should be recognized with an All-Star start. Berkman's Cardinals have been fighting with Braun's Brewers for the division lead in the NL Central. They could be starting in the same outfield in mid-July.
Those are my picks for this year's game. Not all of the picks are clear cut this season but that's what makes this exercise fun. Let me know how my picks look by leaving a comment below.