all star logo

Every July Major League Baseball stirs up controversy and conversation. The biggest and brightest stars align and play a lovely exhibition game. That’s right exhibition. Its a supposed to be a celebration of the game, its players, and its fans. But now home field for the World Series rests in the balance. Everyone has an opinion on this. Some people like that the game “means” something. Specifically after the tie game a few years back that instituted this policy.

So is this an exhibition? Is this a legitimate competition? Its certainly not treated like a legitimate competition. Pitchers MAY throw 3 innings. Last year we got to the brink of reliving every arm in the bullpen being used up and Bud Selig having to make another brutal decision on wether or not to call the game.

Another HUGE reason the game isn’t legitimate competition? We, the fans, still have a say in who plays. This is REALLY the bone I have to pick. This is the reason I started writing this, 3 part, (yes THREE I’m not breaking it all down here and now.) write up on who is lined up to start for each All Star Team, and who SHOULD be starting for the All Star Team. If you claim this doesn’t matter? Every team has to be represented (another ridiculous rule, imo) – so if a non deserving player is voted in as a starter, and then the guy who SHOULD be starting makes the team that’s 2 players for one spot.

Don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get to pick what players we want. We should, but its ludicrous to play the game under the guise of legit competition if WE can pack the ballots for whoever we want.

I’ll start with the National League. Listing who the leading vote getter is at each position, and who I think should win the starting job, as well as another option or two.

1st Base

Who’s Leading the Voting: Albert Pujols ( St. Louis, 2.6 million). Next Closest: Ryan Howard (Philadelphia, 1.1 million).

Who should be the starter? Pujols. He’s not at full “Pujols”. But is tied in the NL for Homeruns among 1B. Leads in OPS (On Base + Slugging).

Who you could make arguments for? Joey Votto (Cincinatti 5th in voting) and Troy Glaus (Atlanta 4th in voting). Sadly, they are no where near 2nd place, but should be above Howard. Both are having stellar seasons… Glaus’s being down right shocking.

NL Manager has a tough choice. Last year he packed his roster with Phils, which is his prerogative since its his team and he won the right to be the All Star manager.

2nd Base

Who’s leading the Voting? Chase Utley (Philadelphia 2.4 million) next Closest: Martin Prado (Atlanta, 1.1million) Our first case of “name recognition” = All Star Starter. Chase is struggling this year. Hasn’t been able to hit consistently. All around Philadelphia there is murmuring of him being injured.

Who Should be the Starter? Prado. I don’t think its coincidental that the Braves took off when they moved Prado to the leadoff spot. Hits for a high average. Has some power.

Who Else? Brandon Phillips (Cincinatti 5th in voting), along with Votto, is a huge reason the Cincinatti Reds are in contention in the NL Central. Power. Speed. Is hitting .300? He keeps this up it’ll be a banner year. Dan Uggla (Florida 3rd in voting) – who doesn’t remember his awful awful defensive display. Lets give the guy another chance. His offensive numbers are allstar worthy. Leading NL 2B in both HR and RBI. His 70 K’s and .260 Batting Average are reasons for him NOT to make the squad. But with the surprising depth at Second? I don’t think he will.

3rd Base

Who’s leading the Voting? Placido Polanco (Philadelphia 1.15 million). Next Closest: David Wright (New York Mets 1.02 million). Homer alert. I am a Mets fan, and I don’t think “Polly” should be sniffing the starting roster for the NL. He is having a nice year. hitting .313, scored 34 runs. A solid season. NOT an all star season. Wright is among the league leaders in RBI. Has already hit more HR so far this year than all of 2009.

Who should be the starter? If I hadn’t already pissed off Phillies fans… clear your throats cuz you’re gonna boo. Scott Rolen (Cincinatti 5th in voting). That’s right. I’m not going to make the case for David Wright. Rolen is hitting 25 points higher, and has struck out half as much as Wright. Either way, both are more deserving than Polanco.

Who Else? Ryan Zimmerman (Washington not in top 5 of voting). Started off great, has cooled a bit. Great defensively. Same Batting Average as Wright. More runs. More HR. 17 less RBI, and I think the lack of RBI can be partially attributed to the guys ahead of him not getting on. Still, I’d rank him above Placido… and somehow Chipper Jones is ranked 3rd… REALLY?!?! THIRD?! He’s hitting .250 has 4 HR, and 29 RBI.

Shortstop

Who’s Leading the Voting? Hanley Ramirez (Florida 1.5 million). Next Closest: Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia 1.2 million). Man a lot of my issues with this team is with the Phillies. J-Roll is a talent, but no way should he be on the list. Why not? one number. 45. The number of at bats Rollins has had in the 2010 campaign (as of his 0-4 tonight)

Who should be the starter? Han Ram. No doubter there. After a slow start he’s picking it up. Not hitting at the same clip he was last season, but is among the leaders in HR and RBI for Shortstops.

Who Else? If he hadn’t just taken a pitch off his arm that sidelined him with a broken wrist, Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado 3rd in voting) would make a strong case for being the NL starter at this position. And my home pick for any of these positions, Jose Reyes (NYM 4th in voting). Mets are a different team when Jose is around. Despite an early stint on the DL he’s among the leaders in runs (42) and Steals (17).

Outfield

Who’s Leading the Voting? Ryan Braun (Milwaukee 1.81 million). Jason Heyward (Atlanta 1.78 million). Andre Ethier (Los Angeles Dodgers 1.7 million)

Who should get the Starting spots? Braun is deserving. Heyward is a good young talent who has crazy upside, but he shouldn’t be a starter. Ethier was a no brainer until his pinky was broken by an inside fastball. Since coming back he struggled… so he’s borderline. My picks for the other positions after Braun. Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado not in the top 15 in voting) “Car-Go” has been great. Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburg not in the top 15) lets give the Pirates some love here! They are a dreadful excuse for a MLB team, but Andrew McCutchen is “as advertised” since he was a highly touted prospect.

Who Else? Corey Hart (Milwaukee not in the top 15). Gets lost in the shuffle in Milwaukee with Prince and Braun. Justin Upton and Chris Young (Arizona 12th in the voting, and not in the top 15 respectively) they get lost in the shuffle of… well… Arizona… yeah they’re not so good. Colby Rasmus speed and power at the top of the Cardinals lineup. Definite threat to go 20-20 (homeruns-steals) … real outside chance to go 30-30 assuming he gets 600 at bats.

*takes a deep breath*

this was more research than I’ve done since my senior year of college. Okay this is more research than I did during both semesters of my senior year of college.

For the most part, just looking at the NL voting leaders? We’re getting it wrong. Be it because of name recognition. A huge “homer” vote turn out (gotta give Philly its due. They have to be stuffing the hell out of the ballots between bites of cheesesteak). But the bottom line is? There are more deserving players out there than just the “names you recognize”. There are guys who are working just as hard and playing better and deserve to be recognized.

So go here:

You have 9 days to vote… or… you know…. after looking at how the results are stacking, up? Maybe you SHOULDN’T go and vote. Or maybe MLB should just own up to the fact that its an exhibition for the fans. This is NOT a case of having your cake and eating it too. Its gotta be one or the other. Competition. Exhibition. The two don’t mix well.