Monday, July 11, 2011

MLB All Star Game 2.0

When I first started this website, one of my earlier columns was a mega three part scenario, of a made up MLB All Star team. When the NBA All Star rolled around, I did the same thing again. After abandoning the traditional selecting methods of forming a team, I made up my own criteria for how my Major League All Star teams would be created.

Instead of selecting the best players in baseball, I formed my All Star teams by having the one best player from each team and then proceeded to make up the roster. Each team’s roster would have to fill the following posistion:

Catcher
First Base
Second Base
Third Base
Shortstop
Right Field
Center Field
Left Field
Designated Hitter
Starting Pitcher
Middle Reliever
Middle Reliever
Middle Reliever
Closer

Since selections where not done by position, I stated that any position that had excess would fill in the gaps of the ones that did not have any. For example, if I had 6 right fielders, I could place one in right field and with the other five in any position that did not already have a player that naturally played there.

The American League All Star representatives are as follows:

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Player: Nick Markakis
Age/Position: 27/Right Field
2011 Stats: BA .292, HR 7, RBI 36

For the second year in row, Markakis is the team representative for the Orioles. Last year I was really eager to get my version of the All Star game out before the real one by two weeks. This year I thought I would put it out right before the actual All Star game, so the stats and numbers would be cut right at the half of the season. OK, that is lie. I was just super lazy.

Last year Markakis got the nod with a batting average of .300, three home runs and 23 runs batted in. This year his numbers are a bit better, even with the dip in average and the adjustment for two additional weeks that stats could be accounted for. He is just the dependable, freak athlete that he was a year ago. Nothing has changed.

It is also interesting to note that the teams leader in HRs, RBIs, runs, and OPS is not Nick Markakis, but the new guy acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks: Mark Reynolds. So why not Reynolds over Markakis? Because Reynolds batting average is .227, he only has 65 hits compared to Nick’s 106 and has struck out 96 times against Markakis’ 36. I would much rather have Nick’s consistency over Reynolds power.

BOSTON RED SOX
Player: Adrian Gonzalez
Age/Position: 29/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .354, HR 17, RBI 77

If you had asked me to write a pre-season version, of my version—of the All Star game—with out a doubt in my mind I would have put Carl Crawford here. It would not have even been a competition. I saw Crawford getting 50+ stolen bases this season. Crawford, so far, has eight swipes this season and has been on the disabled list on June 18th with a hobbled hamstring. Getting those 50+ stolen bags is pretty much out of the question unless he some how channels the 1982 stealing prowess of Rickey Hendersen. Since the Sox will not be getting those stolen bases, the only other thing Crawford brings to us, is his stable .295 to .300 batting average. That is what you get you expect when you sign a guy who was a 2010 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner to a 7-year $142 million dollar contract. However, Carl Crawford is batting an awful .243 to date. I did not expect this kind of fall off or dip.

The person who I expected dip in their number production was Gonzo. My goodness. A major league leading batting average and major league leading seventy-seven runs batted in! We are talking about a pace for 150+ RBIs. The last guy to hit like that was Alex Rodriquez in 2007 when he hit batted in 156 runs. Some might call foul and say A-Rod was juicing in 2007, so if you want to go back to an honest figure try a name on like Babe Ruth. In 1921 ‘The Great Bambino’ threw up 171 RBIs, in 1927 Ruth tallied 164 RBIs, drove in 154 in 1929, and was responsible for 163 in the 1931 baseball season.

This 2011 season, Adrian Gonzalez is putting up Ruthian numbers.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Player: CC Sabathia
Age/Position: 30/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.72, SO 126, WHIP 1.16

First off, I must give credit where credit is due, and give a hearty standing ovation to Derek Jeter joining the 3000 hits club. Big accomplishment.

To the Yankees All Star rep. I wanted to go Teixeira because of his 25 home runs and 65 RBIs, but the .244 batting average is nothing to write home about. I want to see someone that is more impressive. OK, if not him how about Curtis Granderson? The man is playing out of his element, but is not pulling a Donnie, by actually being out of his element. Roll with me, I can expand on this.

2010 Curtis Granderson vs. 2011 Curtis Granderson

In 2010 Curtis Granderson batted .247, with 24 home runs, 67 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 76 runs. He did all of this through 136 games.

So far in 2011, Granderson has a batting average of .269, has hit 25 home runs, has drove in 63 runs, has 15 stolen bases and has scored 79 runs… and has done all of this through 87 games.

Hmmm…


I do not want to put you as the Yankees rep, Granderson, because I just do not trust you to either sustain this production, or ever duplicate it again. I acknowledge that it is happening, but do not credit you that it is happening, it that makes any sense. Like Teixeira, I want to put someone else here. Should I go Bartolo Colon? No, his season is just as baffling as Granderson’s.

Sabathia works. Major league leading 13 wins and a very respectable 126 strikeouts, and Sabathia has had seasons like this before. There is nothing that has me scratching my head by giving him the nod. My only complaint (besides the wearing of Yankee uniform) is his quality start percentage. Holding company with the likes of Bruce Chen, Alex Cobb and Erik Bedard with a .60 quality start percentage is not good… 77th in the league actually. Would those low percentage types of starts, get him 13 wins on another team? Probably not, but 13 wins is 13 wins.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Player: James Shields
Age/Position: 29/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.33, SO 137, WHIP 0.98

How far you have fallen Evan Longoria, I thought for sure I would see you making your consecutive trip to my All Star game. Makes me a little bit sad. With the Rays offense hovering right in the middle of the MLB pack, 15th to be exact, there is not a player that screams All Star this season, at least not one that screams louder that James Shields.

Shields is having the best season of his career, and is playing like the sporting community thought he would this year. His ERA is 6th best in the bigs, 6th best in strikeouts, and has .86 percent quality start average. He also has seven complete games along with three shutouts.

There is also a nice sabermetric stat known as “tough losses”. Guess what that stands for. Shields has five on the year… and his record is 8-7. You can do the math.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Player: Jose Bautista
Age/Position: 30/Right Field
2011 Stats: BA .334, HR 31, RBI 65

I should have put Bautista as the starter last year. Going in to the break he had 5 more HRs and and 7 more RBIs than Vernon Wells (who I chose). Maybe it was his .237 batting average that turned me off, and turned me towards Wells with the .287 BA. And maybe he was giving me the same kind of fits Curtis Granderson is giving me this year. Up until that point the best season Bautista had ever had, in terms of power, was in 2006 when he his 16 home runs in 117 games with the Pittsburg Pirates.

This year I know the power is legit. When you are batting .334 and lead the lead with 31 jacks at the break; you are coming to my All Star game.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Player: Paul Konerko
Age/Position 35/First Base
2011 Stats: BA .319, HR 22, RBI 67

Holy 35-year old power (I’ll get to you later Lance Berkman), what is getting in to you Paul Konerko?! I mean I saw you doing this same type of thing last year, but at age 34 I told myself there was no way you were going to keep this up, let alone do it even better the next season. I was wrong. I ask for apology. You have been hitting for a consitent power, with an above average BA for seven straight years now. Paul Konerko ladies and gentleman! Just 13 home runs shy of 400. I tip my hat to you old man.

CLEAVLAND INDIANS
Player: Travis Hafner
Age/Position: 34/Designated Hitter
2011 Stats: BA .325, HR 8, RBI 35

You bug me Cleveland Indians. It is always so hard for me to nail down some one that deserves to be selected, hands down. Last season, like usual, the Indians were terrible. This year, they are a bona fide playoff contender. They are a good team. No real super stars. Last year I explained how I held a small baseball flame for Travis Hafner, but he never quite made it happen. Finally, this year he makes some noise from the get go and then goes and gets placed on the disable list for over a month. Even though these numbers are missing over a months worth of games, I am putting him in. I do not care what you say. Sure:

- Asdrubal Carbrera may be 26-years old, and leading the team in BA, HRs, RBIs, runs and OPS, but he gets minus points for biting on Ichiro’s pre-swing plate appearance ritual.
- Sure, 26-year old MLB sophomore starting pitcher, Josh Tomlin, may have 10 wins (4th best in the AL) and a WHIP of 1.06. I am holding firm to my Hafner selection. And even though this Josh Tomlin is 12-2 in his first 15 MLB home starts—something that only one other player has done since 1961—I am still standing by my Hafner selection.

Hafner is the key I tell you, THE KEY!!!

DETROIT TIGERS
Player: Justin Verlander
Age/Position: 28/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.15, SO 147, WHIP 0.87

Currently holds a 12-4 win/loss record, which is one short of CC’s league leading 13 wins. This is the only place where CC bests JV.

****WARNING: FAST AND FURIOUS MOVIE-TO-SPORTS ANALOGY ALERT****

In the original The Fast and the Furious, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Vin Diesel’s crew assemble a tricked out Toyota Supra to take the Race Wars that are held at some secret location in the middle of the desert. Right after the finish putting the last decal on the Supra, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel take the Supra out for a test run. The two pull up next to a condescending white guy in a Ferrari at a stoplight.

So far, the Toyota Supra is Justin Verlander and Paul Walker is the Detroit Tigers owner, Mike Ilitch. The Ferrari is CC Sabathia and the condescending white guy is Hank Steinbrenner and Yankee fans everywhere. Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel.

Looking over to the Ferrari, Paul Walker says, “Nice car. What’s the retail on one of those?”

Douche bag Ferrari guy, “More than you can afford, pal,” While revving the throaty engine “Ferrari.”

Paul Walker and The Diesel stare at this asshat, un-impressed.

Vin Diesel turns to Walker and utters two words, “Smoke him.”

Which is what happens, and which has also happened this season. Earlier in the column I showed CC’s terrible quality start percentage. Verlander has a MLB best .95 percent. Out of his 20 total starts, Justin Verlander has put out nineteen. CC has started 20 as well, but only shown up for 12 of them. Verlander edges him in strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, walks allowed, complete games, shutouts, etc. You name it, and Verlander has done it better.

You can watch the Tigers vs. Yankees scene, by clicking here.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Player: Alex Gordon
Age/Position 27/Left Field
2011 Stats: BA .299, HR 11, RBI 50

Since Greinke is done rotting in KC, the door is wide open for anyone to make the All Star cut this year. I am going to make a reach for the guy with only 4 years of MLB experience, Alex Gordon. Why? Why not?

MINNESOTA TWINS
Player: Joe Mauer
Age/Position: 28/Catcher
2011 Stats: BA .243, HR 0, RBI 9

Joe Mauer gets an injury pass on his numbers. The guy was out for two months and did not fare well for the month of June; the month in which he returned. But so far, for the month of July, Mauer is batting .306 and is showing us the player that he is and will be. Talk to me in a month and if Mauer is still batting .240 then I will begin to question his playing ability.

All in all, the guy is the anchor of that team. This is why you see Mauer here and note Michael Cuddyer who leads the team in hits and batting average.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Player: Jered Weaver
Age/Position: 27/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 1.81, SO 120, WHIP 0.91

When you make the All Star team last year with a 7-3 record and 3.01 ERA, then you are definitely making it the second time around when you lead the bigs with the lowest ERA and hold a 11-4 record. Everything that was working well last season, is working even better this year.

Last Thursday, I got to see in person at Angel’s Stadium, Jered Weaver throw a complete game against my Seattle Mariners. Angels won 5-1 and Bobby Abreu hit his 1300th RBI. In other post game news, the Mariners continue to have the worst offense in major league baseball.

Before the game I Tweeted my pre-game feeling was positive. My buddy Mike asked me if I had seen the Mariners lately and afterwards he Tweeted at me: “I hate to say I told you so.”

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Player: Gio Gonzalez
Age/Position: 25/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 2.47, SO 111, WHIP 1.27

Ryan Sweeney was the man a year ago. I threw a dart and it landed on his name, that was the only qualification you needed to rep the A’s—be on the roster. Luckily, Gio is having himself a nice little season and my selection to place him in the game is quite easy. He has the 9th best ERA in The Show, right behind Roy Halladay. His strikeouts per nine innings is healthy at 8.84. That number is better either Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, and Jon Lester.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Player: Felix Hernandez
Age/Position: 25/Starting Pitcher
2011 Stats: ERA 3.19, SO 140, WHIP 1.15

Oh how you vex Seattle. Do I put King Felix because he is the reigning American League Cy Young winner? Do I put my boy Ichiro who has 3,600 hits over his baseball career? Or do I put the 22-year old new comer Michael Pineda who is like Felix Hernandez 2.0?

When Pineda won his 5th game I joked that Craftsman was going to release a 'Michael Pineda' lawnmower because their product testing showed it could mow thru test lineups with uncanny ability.

In the end, Ichiro is batting .270, which for any normal player is like batting .137. Seriously, it is. Michael Pineda is young and has shown great promise, but he still needs experience. That leaves me with King Felix. It’s weird because I feel myself reluctantly choosing him, even though Felix Hernandez is a top tier pitcher. I probably feel this way because I wanted to choose Ichiro, and for the second year in a row I just could not do it in faith.

TEXAS RANGERS
Player: Josh Hamilton
Age/Position 30/Left Field
2011 Stats: BA .301, HR 11, RBI 49

Did you know you can spell the word ‘bitter’ two ways. A-D-R-I-A-N B-E-L-T-R-E. Sorry Adrian Beltre. I know you have 71 RBIs, but you also ruined baseball in Seattle by making us pay you so much for crappy results, only to start playing better after being released. First in Boston and now in Texas. Josh Hamilton is still the Rangers best player.

Had Josh Hamilton not have broken his arm sliding in to home, I feel like he would likely be in contention for the Triple Crown at the break. He missed more than a month and look at his numbers. He is the life blood of this Ranger’s team.

ROSTER NATURALLY FILLED

C Joe Mauer
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B
3B
SS
RF Nick Markakis
CF
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Travis Hafner
P Justin Verlander
MR
MR
MR
CL

Remaining players: SP CC Sabathia, SP James Shields, SP Jered Weaver, SP Gio Gonzalez, SP Felix Hernandez, RF Jose Bautista, LF Alex Gordon and 1B Paul Konerko

ROSTER WITH ADJUSTMENTS

C Joe Mauer
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Gio Gonzalez
3B Travis Hafner
SS Nick Markakis
RF Jose Bautista
CF Alex Gordon
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Paul Konerko
P Justin Verlander
MR Jered Weaver
MR CC Sabathia
MR James Shields
CL Felix Hernandez

The only player here getting thrown to the wolves would be pitcher Gio Gonzalez. I have no idea if he has ever played any other position. Markakis is such a natural athlete that I know he could make the transition to short stop with the least amount of hiccups. Hafner can step out of the DH and play third, as he has done before in his career. The pitching choices, obviously, make no difference.

Look for Part-2 of my version of the 2011 MLB All Star Game tomorrow.

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