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June 1, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

All-Stars (Pt. 3)

by Joe Sheehan

Here's the rest of my ballot. Tomorrow, we'll talk about possible changes baseball can make to stop the surge in triple plays. When they're this common, they become cheap and they lose their luster. A special baseball moment is now just another part of the highlights package. Even Tony Womack can be a part of a triple play these days! It's a damn shame, and it needs to stop.

AL Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. What, you were expecting Matt LeCroy? Rodriguez has become a Kirby Puckett or a Tony Gwynn, a truly great player despite his complete lack of walks. The argument for him as being better than Mike Piazza even has merit these days, although I still believe Piazza is the better player--there's a massive difference in their home parks, for one thing.

As I mentioned in an AL East Notebook, that division has three good candidates for the team. I think Jorge Posada will carry the day.

NL Catcher: Mike Piazza. Not the automatic pick he has always been, thanks to the presence of Jason Kendall. Nevertheless, with Piazza back at his more typical performance level, he's keeping the Pirate catcher at a safe distance.

By the way, one of the unheralded great stories of 2000 has been the play of Todd Hundley. Before going on the disabled list, he was hitting .290/.377/.653, which puts him right where he was back in August of 1997. He has a damaged throwing arm, of course, but given what he went through in 1998 and 1999, that performance is impressive.

AL Outfield: Bernie Williams, Manny Ramirez and Jermaine Dye. One of the quirks in filling out an All-Star ballot is that it is possible to completely biff the pick. I mean, I wasn't sitting there with a laptop and a wireless Internet connection. Or even a copy of McWeekly.

So I dug through a mostly disappointing list of American League outfielders, lamenting the outward flow of talent and how some guys like Bobby Higginson and Tim Salmon and Ben Grieve sure looked like they'd be easy picks a couple of years back. Williams and Ramirez pretty much got their spots by default, and Dye got the last spot over Darin Erstad

Many of you--especially in the greater Boston area--may wish to wipe your monitors now.

Yes, I completely forgot about Carl Everett, who is bucking the recent trend as a talented outfielder moving from the NL to the AL. He deserves the spot I gave to Dye, based on positional value and a better track record coming into this season. Future ballots will have Williams, Ramirez and Everett.

NL Outfield: Ken Griffey, Barry Bonds and Vladimir Guerrero. American League first base was hard. National League third base was deep. But there is nothing like the group of outfielders playing in the National League this year. The next three guys I could name--Jim Edmonds, Shawn Green and Brian Giles--would have a reasonable case to be the AL's starters.

But wait, there's more: Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Steve Finley, Sammy Sosa and Richard Hidalgo are all worthy, and some of them aren't even going to be invited as backups!

Nevertheless, I stand by my picks. If you're not going to have Griffey and Bonds there, you might as well call the game off, and I want to see Guerrero play on a major network this season. Or Fox, if they have the game.

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

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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