Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ranking the Twins All-Star Candidates

Next month's All-Star Game is fast approaching and Target Field will serve as the center of the baseball universe. The starting rosters for the National League and the American League will be announced during the weekend of July 5th-6th and it doesn't seem likely for the Twins to have a starter elected by the fans. 

This leaves some question as to who should represent the hometown team in Minnesota's first Mid-Summer Classic since 1985. Joe Mauer has been named MLB's All-Star Ambassador but that might not guarantee him a spot in the game. He's been a regular at the game when he was a catcher but the switch to first base has seen a decline in his numbers.

There are other worthy candidates on the Twins this season and the team might be able to sneak a couple players onto the roster since manager Ron Gardenhire is on the coaching staff. Here's a look at the top All-Star Game options for the Twins through the middle of June.

1. Glen Perkins, LHP
Perkins was picked as a replacement player for last year's All-Star Game after Jesse Crain went down with an injury. Unfortunately for Perkins, he never made it into the game and I think this is something Gardenhire will want to accomplish this year. Only Greg Holland and Fernando Rodney have more saves than Perkins in the American League. It would be cool to hear Perkins come into a close game in front of his hometown crowd especially after the leadership role he has taken with this organization over the last handful of years.

2. Phil Hughes, RHP
It has been quite the stretch of baseball for Hughes since he signed with the Twins. Hughes is keeping the ball in the park and he has the lowest walk rate of his career. His seven wins have him three behind the leaders in the American League and he has as many wins as Yu Darvish and Jered Weaver. He's been the most valuable pitcher on the Twins staff and he should be recognized for his achievements. His exit from New York was rough which makes his success in Minnesota all the sweeter.

3. Brian Dozier, 2B
Dozier might be the team's MVP up to this point but there are slough of bigger named second baseman in the American League. Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano, and Dustin Pedroia all have the big names that would draw in viewers for the All-Star Game. According to FanGraphs version of WAR, Dozier has been more valuable than all of them but that still might not help his cause. His 15 home runs are more than Kinsler, Cano, and Pedroia combined. He's have a great first half but it might not be enough.

4. Kurt Suzuki, C
Since Mauer isn't in the catching picture any more, there will be a new starter behind the dish. Salvador Perez and Yan Gomes sit ahead of Suzuki in fWAR but most of that comes from their power numbers and defense. Suzuki leads AL catchers in batting average and on-base percentage. Someone like Perez might deserve the start but Suzuki would be a viable back-up option for the late innings. He's an eight year veteran in the middle of one of his best seasons so it might be nice for him to get an All-Star nod to add to his resume.

5. Joe Mauer, 1B
There are a lot of Mauer haters out there especially with his rough first half of the season. He's been striking out more, not hitting for power, and his average has suffered as more teams shift against him. He's still the biggest name on the Twins roster and he's MLB's appointed ambassador. Mauer is only the 10th best first baseman according to fWAR so there would be quite the list of players ahead of him. If you factor in last season's numbers as well, Mauer's fWAR would be the fourth highest among AL first baseman.

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