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May 31, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

All-Stars (Pt. 2)

by Joe Sheehan

I promised to take you through my All-Star ballot, so here goes. Note that I'm not doing this by league, but by position. Infield today, catcher and outfield tomorrow, and no doubt a lot of nasty reader e-mail Friday.

Remember the standard: the player who I consider to be the best in the league at that point in time, based on their entire career to date.

AL First Base: Carlos Delgado. One of the toughest decisions. Rafael Palmeiro has a better glove and was better in 1999, while Jason Giambi might be the better player in 2000. Mo Vaughn isn't the worst choice in the world, either. Overall, I'd rather have Delgado than any of them.

I didn't consider Frank Thomas at all, because he's primarily a DH these days, and has been surpassed by Edgar Martinez. Heck, if I'd thought of it at the time, I might have skipped them all and written in Martinez, just to be contrary.

NL First Base: Mark McGwire. There are two positions on the ballot at which there can be no debate. This is one of them. Jeff Bagwell is a great, and underappreciated, player. He's not one of the two best players at his position in history.

There's actually a chance Bagwell won't even make the team. Todd Helton will probably be the only Rockie, while Andres Galarraga will certainly be chosen, especially with the game in Atlanta.

AL Second Base: Roberto Alomar. It's interesting that just two years ago there was a real debate as to who was better between Alomar and Chuck Knoblauch. The separation between the two the past two years is the difference between a Hall of Fame career path and a Really Good Player career path.

If you're looking for the position that will give us a "huh?" pick, this could be it. The next-best second basemen in the AL this year are Delino DeShields and Luis Alicea. Both are playing well--and over their heads--so far. DeShields has the edge as the only Oriole worth a darn.

NL Second Base: Craig Biggio. I confess, my NL picks haven't changed in a few years. Biggio isn't playing that well this year, and there are a number of guys who may have surpassed him, Edgardo Alfonzo in particular.

Upon further review, I will be voting for Alfonzo on subsequent ballots. If Biggio wins the honor by two or fewer votes, Met fans can express their displeasure at joesadoofus@baseballprospectus.com.

AL Third Base: Troy Glaus. Benefitting from a weak field as well as his own perfromance, Glaus got my vote. He's not a bad pick, but he does have less than two years' experience, and there's usually someone out there who has a better case. Right now, he's so far and away the best third baseman in the league that it's not funny. And if I can convince a couple million people, maybe he'll even start over that guy in the Century 21 commercial. Pick Edgar Martinez as the backup.

Longtime readers may wish to turn away for a few lines, lest their eyes pop out of their heads. I do not believe the following words have ever appeared in Baseball Prospectus, online or otherwise:

Peter Gammons is right about this one, and deserves credit for being so forceful about stating his case. Glaus is the best third baseman in the league and a deserving All-Star.

NL Third Base: Chipper Jones. I was expecting this to be a tougher decision, but Scott Rolen keeps getting hurt and Adrian Beltre is developing slowly. Toss in Fernando Tatis, Phil Nevin and Ken Caminiti, and you might have the deepest position on the ballot.

AL Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez. There's a personal bias here: even if all three members of the Trinity were playing at a comparable level, I would probably still vote for A-Rod. That Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter haven't played at Rodriguez's level in 2000 does make it easier, though. At their best, you can't really go wrong with selecting any of them.

NL Shortstop: Barry Larkin. Not unlike the second-base decision, I didn't spend a lot of time considering alternatives here, either. The difference is that there's still no one better than Larkin. Edgar Renteria will get there, if Rafael Furcal doesn't beat him to it, but in 2000, Larkin is still the best in the league.

With few NL shortstops playing at even an acceptable level, this is the National League's opportunity to give us the least-likely All-Star, Cub Ricky Gutierrez. He doesn't have the "sole representative" thing going for him like DeShields, but he does have a high batting average and won't play enough between now and the end of June to work his way off the team.

At least it's better than Saint Rey.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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