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May 22, 2009

Prospectus Today

NL All-Stars

by Joe Sheehan

Today, I'll run through my NL All-Star ballot, again keeping consistent with the idea that I'm trying to pick the very best player at each position, and specifically not giving much weight to the last six weeks relative to the body of work and established level of play. It's pretty clear that many, many people want to see the All-Star Game reward a big six, eight, or 10 weeks, and while it's a popular view, it's a tough one to defend, not least because it would mean that July, August, and September never matter in choosing All-Star teams.

First Base: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. One method of selecting All-Stars that I will give credence to is selecting favorites, whether that's the guys on your team, your favorite players irrespective of laundry, or the guys you want to see play in the All-Star Game for personal reasons. Those kinds of ballots are the only ones for which a vote other than for Albert Pujols as the NL's first baseman is valid. Just because Adrian Gonzalez or someone like that-an All-Star-caliber player-has a higher EqA or VORP or something for six weeks doesn't change Pujols' status as the game's best baseball player.

Don't get me started on Ryan Howard.

Second Base: Chase Utley, Phillies. This is arguably an easier choice than voting for the best player in baseball. Pujols has more worthy competition in most years; Utley has Orlando Hudson and Brandon Phillips, good players who don't reach his level.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. He's continued to separate himself from Jose Reyes, a fine player in his own right. Ramirez's power makes up for Reyes' superior defense, and will likely continue to do so through the two players' primes.

Third Base: David Wright, Mets. This has been one of the toughest calls on the ballot for a few seasons now, as Chipper Jones' second, late peak coincides with the meat of Wright's career. I don't think you can go wrong with either player, and to some extent, this pick is me throwing up my hands and flipping a coin. (This is a case where current-season performance served as a tiebreaker.) It will be interesting to see if Ryan Zimmerman makes this more complicated in future seasons.

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves. There was a debate between him and Russell Martin for a while there. It's not a debate any longer, and even had Martin sustained his 2008 line, there wouldn't be. McCann increasingly reminds me, as much as someone born in 1971 can say this, of Yogi Berra. I wouldn't mind seeing Yadier Molina make the team; he's good enough defensively that he doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone in the league other than McCann.

Outfield: Carlos Beltran, Mets; Manny Ramirez, Dodgers; Adam Dunn, Nationals. It looks like a protest vote, or that I'm making a statement, or what have you. It's not. Even with missing eight weeks due to a suspension for violating the drug policy-a presumed use of steroids-Ramirez keeps this spot for me. I do not see any argument that steroids are the reason for his performance, this year or previously; I also don't see where a suspension makes you ineligible for an All-Star berth. Finally, the NL outfield pool is not what it was a few years back. As in the AL, there's a drop-off after the top two guys to a group of comparably valued players with limited track records or a flaw of some kind. I couldn't take two from the pool ahead of Ramirez. He's just that much better than the field, especially if you want to just look at NL performance.

Looking back, I think Ryan Braun might have been a better choice than Dunn was, though Dunn isn't an unreasonable pick. The two are similar players, Braun growing into a better version of what Dunn has been for the last eight years, with fewer walks, more contact, and a bit better outside the batter's box. Dunn over Braun is the one pick on the ballot that I wouldn't mind having back, and what bugs me is that I missed Braun last year as well. I think I'm mentally overcorrecting for his move from third base to left field, downgrading the value of his performance too much. Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Lee, and Alfonso Soriano all caught my eye here as well.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

109 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Mountainhawk
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Not going to bother with Howard, because we all just laugh at your belief he's a platoon player. Especially when you later put Dunn on your ballot, who is worse than Howard in most ways imaginable.

Very disappointing you wasted a vote on a cheater though. You may not like rewarding current season performance, but there is a guy hitting .349/.410/.724 in the NL OF that is way more deserving than someone that was probably cheating for years, defrauding the fans.

May 22, 2009 09:52 AM
rating: -10
 
Bob

I recommend you read chapter 9.1 of Baseball Between the Numbers before you so quickly suggest that Manny's drug(s) of choice (or those of anyone else) produce fraudulent numbers.

May 22, 2009 10:18 AM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

I never said his numbers were fraudulent. In fact, his numbers are real, facts are facts. HRs don't vanish because you cheated.

He's still a cheater. He still defrauded the fans. If a player is going to take fans money to play a game that every fan would love to be playing instead of their 9-5 job, they have a duty to play the game honestly and to the best of their abilities.

Manny, lived up to neither of those. We always knew he was a slacker ... we know he's a dishonest cheater now too.

May 22, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: -3
 
Mike Juntunen

Actually, all Manny has an obligation to do for his salary is:

A: entertain us
B: do his best to compete

I gotta say, I think its safe to say that Manny is not only an excellent baseball player, but has succeeded beyond all expectations at A as well as B.

There is no reasonable justification for expecting any baseball player to adhere to the personal moral standards of any fan, journalist, etc. While what Manny did may (did) violate his contract employment terms, those isses are between him and his employer and his agent: If Frank McCourt wants to persue recompense from Manny for his violations, or John Henry or any other person actually paying his salary, they are quite free to do so (and clearly not doing so).

You do not pay Manny Ramirez's salary: you pay to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers/Boston Red Sox/insert your team playing one of those two teams.

May 22, 2009 11:04 AM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

You can have that opinion, I have mine.

My opinion is that Ramirez is a cheater, for who knows how long, and by cheating has deprived fans everywhere of having an honest game of baseball, like all the other cheaters have. This wasn't a case of "oops, I accidently took a prescription that made me test positive." This was a masking agent that is used to prevent you from failing a steroids test.

May 22, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: -3
 
Mike Juntunen

Totally true.

However, you have absolutely no idea (nor I, nor anyone else, not even Manny Ramirez or the players on the other team, more than likely)of any of the following:

1: When did and didn't he take things?
2: Did what he took actually impact his performance outside the vagaries of random chance?
3: What, and when, were his opponents taking?
4: What about the Pitcher? (And, pitching for the Yankees .. Roger Clemens/Andy Pettite!)
5: What about the outfielder climbing the wall to bring back the HR (Gary Matthews Jr)

With all of that lack of information and obfucation, all we can really say is 'we know manny did it too'. We don't know how it impacted games, or whether it deprived people of these experiences, etc .. Do you think Red Sox fans suddenly feel jilted about 2004 and 2007?

Do you think Yankees fans have any right to feel that way (pointing at Clemens and Pettite again, and Giambi and A-Rod and ..)

May 22, 2009 11:25 AM
rating: 0
 
Mountainhawk

You seem to be focused on the results. Even if it never changed the result of a single play he was involved in, it's still cheating, it's still dishonest, and it still violates an ethical code of conduct that I think professional athletes should be held to if they want to play a game for large amounts of cash.

May 22, 2009 11:34 AM
rating: -1
 
Bob

Fair enough. I'm just tired of (a) the histrionic moralizing among so many fans and baseball media types about steroid use, as if that's the worst offense in the sport (how about the sweatshop labor that makes just about every player's shoes? Or guys like Brett Myers who beat their wives?) and (b) the automatic assumption that drug-use enhances performance. This is far from proven.

But hey, that's why the all-star game is (sort of) a democracy! If you don't like Manny, don't for him. I will.

May 22, 2009 11:46 AM
rating: 5
 
James Martin Cole

Do people still believe that "study?". They took a small sample size of scrubs who were barely good enough to make the majors. They operated under the assumption that all of the players took the same substances for the same amount of they, they assumed they didn't continue use after getting caught, they assumed that a bunch of borderline players were comprable to star-caliber players, etc. The essay doesn't prove anything; it doesn't even suggest anything. I find it a lot less compelling than common sense and anecdotal evidence. I can't believe people still bring it up.

May 24, 2009 08:33 AM
rating: -1
 
ruben398

I've said it before, that has to be the worst study Nate Silver has ever published. And this is from someone who is a very big fan of his work, both at BP and at fivethirtyseven. The sample size, self-selection biases, and quite simply overall methodology of that study are an example of hose how no study is better than a poor study in science.

May 24, 2009 10:09 AM
rating: -1
 
eighteen

Ryan Howard's career line against southpaws: .229/.311/.459 for a .771 OPS; 310K:84BB in 870 PA.

Ryan Howard's 2008 line against southpaws: .224/.294/.451 for a .746 OPS; 96K:23BB in 265 PA.

Ryan Howard's 2009 line against southpaws: .196/.274/.304 for a .578 OPS; 22K:5BB in 62 PA.

Put those numbers with a (charitably) below-average glove, and you have the living definition of a platoon player - and that doesn't change just because a fanboy wishes it weren't so.

May 22, 2009 10:37 AM
rating: 8
 
Drew Miller

It is very obvious that Howard can't hit lefties. So I think your assertion that "all" of us "laugh" at Howard's platoon-player skills is slightly too broad.

If Howard didn't take walks, he'd be a lefty Marcus Thames.

May 22, 2009 13:13 PM
rating: 0
 
Mountainhawk
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Howard's only problem with lefties is the K rate goes way up, and he's been improving that every year. He struck out 36% of the PA against lefties in 2006 and it was down to 33% in 2008. Not nearly good enough, but it's improving. He has a batting average excluding Ks of over .400 vs both RHP and LHP. If he can continue to develop more discipline facing LHP, his splits will improve.

May 22, 2009 13:25 PM
rating: -4
 
audhumla
(969)

Joe, not to be difficult, because opinions are opinions and everyone's entitled to their own. Cool deal, fair enough.

But, if you're waffling on an OF in the NL, how about the guy who ... just yesterday ... you said was "Top 12" and who you were "irrational about ... at a .97 Adam Jones level", and who, not coincidentally, is hitting at a 306/382/612 level thus far this season? If you tell me he's in the "group of comparably valued players with limited track records", I guess I'll believe you, but ... what's a 22-year-old gotta do?

May 22, 2009 09:56 AM
rating: 3
 
mattgioia

Get those results for more than half a season and not rely on a fluky babip? :)

May 22, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: -1
 
faithdies

How did you NOT put Raul Ibanez on this list? Really?

May 22, 2009 10:00 AM
rating: 0
 
Brian Kopec

I'm guessing you don't know how Joe picks his all star teams.

He goes for the best players, not the best 200 at bats.

May 22, 2009 10:04 AM
rating: 3
 
Mountainhawk

Can you explain Adam Dunn then? Honestly, I'm not seeing it. I see a guy that hits a lot of HR and nothing else offensively, but is so slow getting to balls in the outfield that he must cost the Reds a couple of bases per series defensively.

May 22, 2009 10:09 AM
rating: -3
 
Aaron/YYZ

Wait, we aren't fans of 40 HR w/ .380 OBP... since when???

May 22, 2009 11:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

If you knew nothing about a player, except this line:

.380 OBP, 40 HR;

would you want him in your ASG?

May 22, 2009 12:58 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Not necessarily if those are his career numbers.

May 22, 2009 15:25 PM
rating: 1
 
Aaron/YYZ

How about veteran where we can reasonably assess that as his true talent level?

May 22, 2009 20:03 PM
rating: -1
 
agentsteel53

and why not? .380 is above average, and 40HR implies a power that makes up for not having a spectacular .430-.440 OBA ... I'd take him for sure - and I'd know that there aren't 1-2 people better at his position, so I'd vote him an all star. Yes, even at 1B or DH.

May 23, 2009 00:29 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Except there are at least 3 people better than Dunn... Manny, Beltran and Braun. That's why they get voted for. Also, keep in mind that All-Star votes are taken with only half the season played, so voters don't get the benefit of seeing such nice round juicy home run totals as 40 home runs.. nor will they know a player's OBP off the top of their head. Let's say Dunn has 15 home runs and Braun has 15 home runs. Braun's team is in first place, riding a recent winning streak, so they are often highlighted in the news. Dunn's on the Nationals... I'd bet dollars to donuts that, assuming their numbers look equal from a superficial aspect (batting average, home runs, etc), the average fan would vote for Braun.

Does it matter if Dunn has more home runs than Braun if Braun has a higher SLG because of a higher batting average and more doubles/triples?

May 23, 2009 08:52 AM
rating: -2
 
Hendo

That would be the Nats... and, yes, it does.

May 24, 2009 17:01 PM
rating: -1
 
Drew Miller

Which is where I fundamentally differ on ASG voting. I would select the player having the best half-season.

I suppose that that puts a disproportionate emphasis on the first half-season, but don't we play this game every year? And isn't it likely that the best players in the game are also likely to have had an All-Star-worthy first half? Maybe they should stick the ASG at the end of the season or something.

But if you're going to put the best players in the game in there, when do you decide who the "best" is? Is one great rookie year (e.g. Ryan Braun) enough? Or do they have to have good resumes (in which case, do we let rookies play in the ASG?)?

It just brings up a host of other questions.

May 22, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 1
 
Mike Juntunen

Its not a question of play, its a question of start: is it really a bad thing to assert the best 18 players in baseball should start the ASG, and people having amazing seasons/playing at elite levels can come in and play the rest of the game?

Its not like Pujols is gonna get more than 1 PA and probably 2 innings in the field (ok, bad example, the game's in his hometown and he's likely to be one of the only starters who plays the whole game for that reason).

Its not like the 2nd place finishers are automatically reserves, after all.

May 22, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: -1
 
krissbeth

Actually, voting for the guys with talent who have the best first half makes for a better All Star Game. They start the game. The guys with the better body of work finish it. It makes for a more balanced game if the last innings aren't exclusively the slots of the Ryan Ludwicks of the world.

May 22, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

Good point. My main sense here is that we should have a more formal guideline as to what sort of process we should be using to consider players for the ASG. We can and should feel free to deviate from such a guideline, but it would be nice if the guideline did exist.

The ASG voting has been dissatisfying for a long time now. I think MLB should make the process a bit more interesting or coherent, instead of encouraging us all to be fanboys.

May 22, 2009 13:04 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom
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We have a guideline. It's called batting average, home runs, rbis and stolen bases.

Oh sure, we can use OPS... except that doesn't tell the whole story...

So we can use VORP... except that doesn't tell the whole story (and calculations for VORP changed since the last BP Annual).

Recommendations on which metric we should use before it goes the way of fielding percentage and becomes obsolete?

May 22, 2009 15:24 PM
rating: -8
 
Joe D.

He didn't deserve it.

That was a simple one. :)

I agree with Joe's method of choosing All-Stars: eight weeks doesn't mean much in the face of full seasons worth of evidence.

Ibanez is a decent OF with a sparkling two months here in 2009. I don't think he's AS-worthy.

May 22, 2009 23:58 PM
rating: 2
 
jramirez

Ryan Howard 2009: 1.072 OPS vs. RHP, .578 OPS vs. LHP
Ryan Howard career: 1.065 OPS vs. RHP, .771 OPS vs. LHP

nope, not a platoon guy.

May 22, 2009 10:01 AM
rating: 2
 
Mountainhawk

Kindly point out for me all the .770+ OPS guys currently sitting on the bench somewhere that the Phillies could pick up to platoon with Howard.

May 22, 2009 10:07 AM
rating: -3
 
Dan W.

Seems to me like this isn't really the point. The point is (1) this DQs Howard from all-star consideration under Joe's metrics, which isn't unreasonable; and/or (2) what you need is someone who can put up better than a 770 OPS against LHP, not against everyone, which would be the point of a platoon. Whether that's worth devoting a roster spot to is colorably debatable.

May 22, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: 3
 
Mountainhawk

OK, that's fair. I'm still guessing that once you came up with a list of available people that are 770+ against LHP, you'll still be left with a pretty short list.

May 22, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

I don't know. Without digging for it (I'm doing that right now), I'd guess that one could find a player who could a) play first base, and b) put up a .770 OPS against lefties, rather easily. It strikes me as something that specific replacement-level players could do. I bet you could find a lot of right-handed, AAAA hitters who could put up that OPS against lefties (and also be lousy against righties).

But I have to see if that can be researched.

May 22, 2009 10:37 AM
rating: 2
 
Mountainhawk

Thanks.

If there is a decent list of available guys, then it is what it is. But then it becomes an issue of do you want to give up the 1.050 OBP against RHP, which is probably at least 2/3 of the league, when Howard signs somewhere else that won't platoon him, which I'm prett sure would happen.


May 22, 2009 10:49 AM
rating: 0
 
Mike Juntunen

By the time Ryan Howard is off contract, anything that encourages him to sign elsewhere for more money is good news for the Phillies, who would do well to avoid the trap of paying a player who was good, but overrated, during his peak for his decline years (note Howard's age already and how quickly big, fat, slow sluggers of his type crater out).

If platooning Ryan Howard makes him sign with the Mets for 17 million a year to replace Delgado, then the Phillies should start platooning him ASAP even if he magically learns to hit lefties for a couple months.

May 22, 2009 11:07 AM
rating: 2
 
harderj

Replacement level (or slightly greater) lefty mashing 1b, limited at bats caveats apply, but they exist:

Jeff Bailey .429/.529/.857
Tony Clark .250/.455/.625
Billy Butler .302/.434/.581
Ryan Garko .333/.419/.519

Utility guys:
Jeff Keppinger .400/.483/.640
Willie Bloomquist .349/.453/.465

Even Russell Branyan (lh) is hitting lefties so far this year: .310/.362/.595.

Could also put Coste .267/.313/.533 at catcher and use Ruiz .300/.462/.500 at first (or vice versa...Coste has played there in the past I believe), or Werth at first and another outfielder who hits lefties...

Heck, put a 1b glove on Gary Sheffield's .407/.515/.593!

Again, none of this may not be worth a roster spot or Howard's disgruntlement now...

May 22, 2009 13:22 PM
rating: 2
 
Drew Miller

Thanks for this. I ran out of time before I could research this.

May 22, 2009 13:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Mike V.
(596)

How about Mark DeRosa? Career 307/372/481 against lefties. He even has a 317/349/610 this year even though he sucks. Plus he's on the block, and wouldn't be a backup-1B load on the bench.

May 22, 2009 14:16 PM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

I don't think we're saying that the Phillies should give up Howard's OPS against righties. I'm merely saying that they should round out their bench with a lefty-masher.

May 22, 2009 13:28 PM
rating: 0
 
TGisriel

For example: Ty Wigginton career v LHP 286/360/505 865 OPS

but this year: 230/272/356 628 OPS (but he starts slow)

May 22, 2009 12:58 PM
rating: 0
 
kcboomer

Most of the selection are very defensible, other than Ramirez. Even if you wish to turn a blind eye to PEDs and naively take Manny's excuse at face value, you still have to keep him off this year's team. The guy is going to miss 1/3rd of the season, got caught red-handed cheating (whether you accept it or not) and you are going to reward him with an all-star berth??

I'd prefer Beltran, Braun, Dunn, or Ibanez. And, yes, I agree Manny is superior to all of them, but sometimes you have to make adult decisions.

May 22, 2009 10:11 AM
rating: 10
 
BelongstotheReds

I have to agree here, Joe. I've listened to and mostly supported your refusal to rush to judgment on PED's, but if the All-Star game is a celebration of the game itself as well as its best players, it seems absurd to honor someone who almost certainly and knowingly cheated. The issue as to whether the PED's have helped his performance is of very little consequence in this context. The drug(s) were very clearly and publicly banned, and Manny knew beyond a reasonable doubt that he was taking them. Missing an All-Star game is a far cry from an outsized penalty given the crime.

May 22, 2009 10:46 AM
rating: 7
 
soBC

Based on the arguments I've read, shouldn't Barry Bonds be on this All Star team?

1. He's not retired
2. His body of work over the last several years is without equal
3. He hasn't been convicted of using steroids

Im half-kidding, but I'm also curious as to how long a player should perform at an All-Star level before being considered an All-Star. Looking at guys like Braun, it seems the answer is 3+ years.

I'm not judging these picks, but if you're going to pick All-Stars using their career as a benchmark, well, isn't that what the Hall of Fame is for? Joe's All-Star picks are basically just a list of guys expected to be in the HOF someday. It seems like the question "Which player at position X will most likely make it to the Hall of Fame?" would produce the same list.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that seems to take some of the fun out of picking All-Stars...

soBC

May 22, 2009 12:38 PM
rating: 5
 
TGisriel

There is, of course, no "right way" to pick an All Star team. Fans love to debate it anyway.

That's part of what makes the All Star game fun!

May 22, 2009 13:12 PM
rating: 2
 
sunpar

You're missing the point. You're supposed to pick the best baseball players alive. No one is better at 1B than Albert Pujols, so even if Adrian Gonzalez were to outhit him for a couple months we could safely still say "If I had to win ONE game tomorrow, I'd pick Pujols."

And since the All-Star game is ONE game, we'd pick Pujols.

It happens to be that body of work over the last several years is a pretty good indicator of how good a player is (luck factors aside), but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone to say Barry Bonds is one of the best OFs alive today.

May 24, 2009 20:10 PM
rating: 0
 
Bodhizefa

How do you compare Ryan Braun to Adam Dunn? How?! In the history of comps, that seems like one of the strangest I've read in my time following BP. It makes absolutely no sense, and you practically had to qualify it in every stat category. Weird, Joe. Just weird.

May 22, 2009 10:24 AM
rating: 2
 
Drew Miller

By my reading, he's not really comparing the two players. He's saying that either one could be the 3rd-best outfielder in the NL (and thus it is difficult to pick between them).

Which I agree with, based on only offensive stats.

May 22, 2009 13:22 PM
rating: 1
 
antoine6

Well, it's not like Ibanez is Marco Scutaro or someone random just having an incredible 200 at-bat streak. He's been a quite solid .290/.355/.480 type hitter in a pitcher's ballpark for the last few years. Now he's leading the NL in SLG and OPS. I don't think it's insane that he would merit consideration.

My guess is that the negative opinion on his contract (for the record, I agree it was a bad deal) are outweighing the actual merits of his production. Say what you will about both the deal and the flukiness of his hitting right now, but you can't pretend the production doesn't exist. It's real, and it's a huge reason the Phillies are in 1st place despite terrible pitching.

May 22, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

It's worth pointing out that the pitcher's park benefit of Safeco is generally to CF and LF only, as pointed out in this year's book. The expectation is that Ibanez would only be slightly helped by PNC.

Personally, I think Ibanez will come crashing down to earth soon. Which doesn't mean that I don't think he should be in the ASG.

May 22, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan W.

It's also worth pointing out, at some level, that Ibanez is only disqualified from consideration through a combination of the "career all-star" and the "advanced statistical metrics" criteria. The guy has averaged 26 HR and 112 RBI the last 3 years, and while this is far from a defense of RBI as a stat, it's obviously one used by the MSM and, thus, by most all-star voters, whether in direct analysis of a player or just in terms of coming to a vague idea of who is/isn't having a good season. So Joe's criteria may be right for his purposes (maybe mine, too), but there are two fronts on which Ibanez has a strong all-star case, if not a compelling one.

May 22, 2009 10:53 AM
rating: 1
 
danteswitness

Joe, be careful if you ever make a visit to Great American Ballpark this summer; Marty Brennaman will hunt you down for daring to include Adam Dunn in an All-Star conversation. Doesn't heart and a love for the game count for anything anymore?

Of course, my Adam Dunn bobblehead and I totally support this movement.

May 22, 2009 10:38 AM
rating: 3
 
Zabadoey

Where's the love for Bengie Molina???

May 22, 2009 10:42 AM
rating: -2
 
harderj

And his sub .300 on base percentage (and I'm a Giants fan)?

May 22, 2009 12:51 PM
rating: 1
 
Bill N

Awesome McKickAss .286 8 hr 30 rbi
Captain Puppykicker .266 3 hr 13 rbi

The top line is Bengie Molina, bottom one is Brian McCann. These are the stats most people will look at.

May 22, 2009 15:15 PM
rating: -3
 
Aaron/YYZ

Just because people will look at them, does not mean you or Joe should. You know better how to value a player, so take advantage of it.

May 22, 2009 20:08 PM
rating: 0
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

I bet Mrs. Molina loves all of her sons equally.

May 22, 2009 14:25 PM
rating: 2
 
Mike Juntunen

I just want to say I feel very much like Joe's criteria for picking ASG starters is totally relevant and guys like Ibanez, Hudson and Zimmerman are entirely entitled to be on the All-Star team .. as reserves. That's why the managers pick the reserves, after all, and I think its entirely justified: starting the ASG should be a sign that you are either the best or most widely loved player at your position (eg, the Jeters, Ripkens and Pujolses of the world)and guys having great/elite partial seasons or career peaks can come in in the 3rd inning.

May 22, 2009 10:51 AM
rating: 2
 
antoine6

Also, I find it hard to believe that it's even much of a competition between Hanley Ramirez and Reyes. Reyes has always gotten credit for being young, but he's 26 now, in the prime of his career, and still is only getting on base at a .355 clip essentially (which Jimmy Rollins always gets knocked for). He's a good defensive SS, but not great, and he continually makes boneheaded plays and errors. He gives you decent power, but nothing special.

At some point, Reyes has to show the improvement people have always been expecting to come with age, right? Or maybe this is just the player he is, a good SS, but by no means an elite-level talent that people continually praise him as.

May 22, 2009 10:51 AM
rating: -1
 
Matt Kory

Rollins has a .331 career OBP. Just saying.

May 22, 2009 10:58 AM
rating: 1
 
antoine6

And Reyes is .337. Just sayin.

I was comparing them at their presently established value. Both get on base around .350-.355. Yet Reyes is considered one of the top talents in the game, and Rollins is barely mentioned. At some point, the assumption that Reyes is young and thus will get so much better has to coincide with what's actually happening. And what's actually happening is that he isn't getting better.

May 22, 2009 11:14 AM
rating: 2
 
Aaron/YYZ

I'd like to dispute the "barely mentioned" part about recent MVP winner Jimmy Rollins. I think people have noticed him.

May 22, 2009 12:34 PM
rating: 3
 
Darin

"Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Lee, and Alfonso Soriano all caught my eye here as well."

These guys ahead of Hunter Pence? That doesn't make much sense.

May 22, 2009 11:04 AM
rating: 1
 
mattgioia

are you serious?

May 22, 2009 11:16 AM
rating: 0
 
onlyalad

given that Pence is:
1) Having a better season at the plate than any of those three.
2) A much better defender than any of them.
3) Actually a right fielder

I think it's pretty legitimate to pick Pence over Soriano, Ludwick, and Lee. And, because of his defense and position, there's a good argument to be made that he'd deserve a vote over at least one of the LFs Sheehan has down.

May 23, 2009 15:53 PM
rating: -1
 
jkaplow21

Can't reply because IE 8 doesn't like the page format, but what about the other 1st basemen not named Pujols?

Adrian Gonzales 3 year vs LHP : .255 .315 .441 .756
Fielder: .249 .329 .463 .792
Todd Helton: .292 .388 .372 .760
Howard: .241 .329 .498 .827
Berkman: .269 .363 .434 .797

Howard has over 60% of his PAs against righties and still hits better against lefties than most top 1st basemen in the NL. Someone please point out the article where Joe harps on Fielder, Gonzales and Berkman being platoon players because they have lower OPS against lefties. I am sure it exists because I can't imagine someone would ignore all of that and focus on Howard.

May 22, 2009 11:09 AM
rating: 5
 
antoine6

Considering that Howard's defense has been much improved so far this year, I think it's clear that platoonig Howard would be a serious mistake. Especially if you're not going to argue to platoon all the rest of those guys.

May 22, 2009 11:39 AM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

Granted, he hasn't made an error yet (even completing 5 straight throws to 2nd, something he had 5 errors on 20 tries last year), but let's see where he ends up this year defensively before turning that into a positive. [Albert has 5 errors so far this year, just for completeness.]

May 22, 2009 12:02 PM
rating: 0
 
tooci4

jkaplow21, I think I love you.

Joe hates mainstream sportswriters, and since they love Howard, perhaps more than they should based on his performance, Joe uses Howard as a proxy to bash on. Thus, we have to cringe through his unwarranted Howard-hating. But those numbers on the those other studs really illuminate things. Thanks for that.

Of course, it's not Howard's fault that he's so damn likable...

May 22, 2009 14:43 PM
rating: 1
 
jkaplow21

I am a Phillies fan, and I am not a huge Howard fan. Just hate when you focus on one player and ignore the others. Joe HAS become what the mainstream media is with respect to steroids. Ignore the ones nobody cares about and focus on the easy target.

May 22, 2009 19:22 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

In addition to those splits you mention, Howard has hit 46 HRs against lefties from '06-'08. No other 1B really comes close. Fielder has 31 and Pujols has 30. The notion that Howard loses a lot of value against lefties is undeniable, but the overall argument for a platoon arrangement here is underwhelming.

May 22, 2009 23:18 PM
rating: 0
 
fielding99

Ramirez gets caught cheating, is forcing his team to play Juan Pierre for 50 games, and you think he should be rewarded with an all-star berth?

I can see arguing that steroids should be permitted. I can see arguing that McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame. I can see arguing that the media is leading this issue in the wrong direction. I can't see this.

May 22, 2009 11:10 AM
rating: 6
 
Richard Bergstrom

Ramirez got caught cheating during spring training... we don't know if it affected his past numbers and because he has been suspended, it hasn't affected his current numbers. The All-Star game does have a habit, too, of electing players who have missed the first half of the season because of injury. Also consider that, if Ramirez using PEDs disqualifies him in the mind of the voter, then Alex Rodriguez should also be disqualified. Joe doesn't use PEDs in his criteria though, just a simple "who is the best player" from his point of view.

May 22, 2009 15:28 PM
rating: 1
 
deberly

Yeah, but my problem with is Joe's comment "I do not see any argument that steroids are the reason for his performance, this year or previously."

Well, here's an argument -- "Manny's performance was substantially helped because of steroids, both this year and previously." Look, the arguement is so basic that I simply don't believe Joe when he writes that.

First, we have no idea, at all, how long he was doping. He could have been for years; Manny's suspension was because of a drug which helped mask the side-affects of long term steriod use. To claim "we have no evidence of prior use" is a little naive, at best. We have lots of evidence, some of it DIRECT evidence.

Second, Joe's argument is also like saying "I don't think the drugs help." Please, let's banish this argument forever, once and for all. If they did not help they 1) would not be banned, and 2) would not be used despite the consequences of using. Doping has been improving athlete's performance in all sports for years. Baseball is no different. Ask Canseco. Or Bonds. Or Sosa. Or anybody.

Third, the argument that "the all-star game" has a history of putting little used players on a team does not make the decision a good one.

Look, if Joe truly loves baseball, he would not vote for Manny. Only football allows its cheaters (see Merriman, Shawne) to make the all-star game.

May 26, 2009 11:51 AM
rating: -1
 
Joe D.

Fair enough.

I'll be voting for Manny because I think he's one of the top three outfielders in the National League. I'm "rewarding" him with my All-Star vote based on his insane second half last season, his status as one of the best hitters in baseball, and his slam-dunk Hall-of-Fame career.

Different strokes, etc etc.

May 23, 2009 00:08 AM
rating: 0
 
Mike W
(830)

Gotta agree with Bodhizefa. How on earth do you compare Braun to Dunn? Braun hits for a much higher average, walks a lot less, plays much better defense, has much more speed, and hits with the other hand. Other than that, though . . .

May 22, 2009 11:13 AM
rating: 0
 
ZachAttack123

Very solid list.

My only qualm is that there isn't even a mention of Ibanez. I agree with the selection philosophy, but he's having such a great start that I wouldn't mind overlooking it for him.

May 22, 2009 11:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

If Joe evaluates players based on their body of work and not the current season's performance, and if he feels PEDs do not disqualify Alex Rodriguez for his vote, then similarly, he has to vote for Manny Ramirez. His OPS over the last three years, even in his "declining" phase, is still better than any other outfielder in the NL. I may not agree with Joe's criteria, but I can applaud him for remaining consistent with that criteria.

Btw, by that criteria, Braun's body of recent work from an OPS standpoint has been better than Dunn's.

May 22, 2009 11:35 AM
rating: 1
 
kriscolic

1) David Wright has been essentially as good as or better than Chipper Jones every year since 2005 according to WAR and WARP. I think Joe is overstating how close the two are.

2) I think that the Brian McCann/Russell Martin debate is far from over. Again per WAR and WARP, Martin was about 3 wins better in '07, only about 1.5 wins worse last year, and is performing better so far this season. Not sure why Joe sees this as a slam dunk.

3) Adam Dunn has been behind Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Lee every year since 2006, often by several wins.

4) Anybody notice how good Jayson Werth has been the last few years? Probably not one of the top three, but he certainly belongs in the conversation. Look it up.

May 22, 2009 12:33 PM
rating: 6
 
antoine6

Werth deserves to be in consideration for a reserve berth, no question. He's quietly one of the better players in the league, a 20-20 plus guy with good OBP and great defense in RF. In the AL, that gets called Nick Markakis.

May 22, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

The only difference is that Werth ain't durable, which means he almost never puts up the requisite counting stats. So I wouldn't put Werth in Markakis' territory--as is often pointed out here, health is a skill, and a vital one at that.

May 22, 2009 13:06 PM
rating: -1
 
TGisriel

Nick Markakis career 302/377/482
2009 327/401/541

Jayson Werth career 264/357/455
2009 272/371/500

closer than I expected, but Markakis is clearly better.

May 22, 2009 13:06 PM
rating: 0
 
sunpar

RE #1: I don't know what you're talking about. Wright in WARP over the past 3 years= 20.8; Chipper=20.9

The last 2 years, the difference has been greater (15.8 vs. 16.7). It's very close, and I think I lean Chipper.

May 24, 2009 20:25 PM
rating: -1
 
sunpar

NVM, I was looking at PECOTA WARP.

May 24, 2009 20:32 PM
rating: -1
 
soBC

Based on the arguments I've read, shouldn't Barry Bonds be on this All Star team?

1. He's not retired
2. His body of work over the last several years is without equal
3. He hasn't been convicted of using steroids

Im half-kidding, but I'm also curious as to how long a player should perform at an All-Star level before being considered an All-Star. Looking at guys like Braun, it seems the answer is 3+ years.

I'm not judging these picks, but if you're going to pick All-Stars using their career as a benchmark, well, isn't that what the Hall of Fame is for? Joe's All-Star picks are basically just a list of guys expected to be in the HOF someday. It seems like the question "Which player at position X will most likely make it to the Hall of Fame?" would produce the same list.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that seems to take some of the fun out of picking All-Stars...

soBC

May 22, 2009 12:39 PM
rating: -1
 
chartjes
(897)

Why people get twisted into knots over a popularity contest is beyond me. The ASG is an exhibition game that has gotten blown out of proportion due to a trend by ASG managers to mismanage their rosters. Which is of course nothing new in baseball.

I could've sworn reading somewhere before that Joe didn't care about the All Star Game, but then he makes some very weird picks. Perhaps he's just yanking our collective chains?

May 22, 2009 12:46 PM
rating: -1
 
smitty

Yes. Every year too, you get all the snub articles after the selections are made. I really dislike this part of the ASG thing. No one gets "snubbed." Guys get selected for various reasons and for good reasons almost always. Other guys don't. That's the way things like this work and always will.

The "snub" pieces and talk always strikes me as quite silly for the most part. There is no single criteria for making an All-Star selection. Career achievement is a good reason to select a guy; a guy having a great start of the year like Ibanez -- that's fine too. How about a guy like Fukodome last season? Sure, why not? There's no reason to ever get all buggy regarding All-Star selections ever.

There may have been a handful of selections over the years that have defied any logic. But for the most part, guys who go to the game are selected for a good reason -- the reasons aren't always the same. If Toby Harrah has a great first half some year and starts an All-Star game instead of George Brett I think that's just fine. As far as I know Toby was a fine man and I like that had a chance to be All Star starter over George Brett one time. (I'm not sure that actually happened but I remember that was a debate thing one time -- should Harrah start over Brett based on a half season of near greatness?).

May 22, 2009 14:29 PM
rating: -1
 
AZMEL

Of course he's yanking our chains. That's his job. Judging by the number of comments, he's done it well. What I've learned from this is that the ASG is a popularity contest, whether we do it, Joe does it or the fans do it.

May 22, 2009 16:03 PM
rating: -1
 
battlekow

Is this article a retrospective or something? I don't understand the "looking back" part; if you wanted to switch Dunn out for Braun, why didn't you just do it?

May 22, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: -2
 
Mountainhawk

I think he's telling us how he actually voted in the ballpark. Joe votes via chads, not via online ballot.

May 22, 2009 13:10 PM
rating: 0
 
smitty

Platoon Ryan Howard talk is pretty silly unless you also advocate platooning Adrian Gonzales who has a .738 OPS vs. lefties.

It would be a good thing for the Phils to get a good right handed hitter for the bench and to sit Howard vs. lefties once in a while. Willingham is a great example of the type.

Howard, by the way is not big and fat right now (well he'll always be big but he looks rather svelte now) and has also been pretty sparkling in the field this season -- and the no errors thing is only part of it. His defensive improvement looks very real -- he worked hard to do so and it took I believe. Dewan's +/- system has him at +5 -- tied for 2nd in the big leagues. Dewan's system is far from flawless and might not be as good regarding first base defense, but it's something that shouldn't be ignored either I don't think. His defense, his throwing and his digging out throws and snagging the other wild tosses has resulted in a miniscule number of infield errors for the Philas as a team.

Further, Howard is pretty unique. He hits many home runs to the opposite field, which makes him a different type of hitter compared to the big, fat guys that tend to go south soon after turning 30.

Howard has been over rated by some -- I don't think there's much doubt about that. But when he gets on a roll, he can nearly carry a team by himself. I think there's some value to that. He is not a platoon player any more than Gonzalez is.

May 22, 2009 14:14 PM
rating: -3
 
Bill N

I'm thinking about UZR here, because I admittedly don't know how Dewan measures it, but... is Howard helped at all by All-World 2B Chase Utley gobbling up grounders next to him in these stats?

May 22, 2009 15:20 PM
rating: -1
 
smitty

Utley is way down statistically so far this season. Dewan's system uses video review and it's supposed to be more sophisticated this season.

I think the system goes hand in hand with watching the games. The two (stats like +/-; UZR, et. al. and watching the players) go hand in hand I believe. Visually, the difference between Howard this season and previous ones is pretty remarkable. Howard has always been pretty athletic but he was clumsy and tentative in the field. He worked very hard in the off-season with Sam Perlozzo and it seems to have made a big difference this season. He also dropped some pounds which helps. I think the stats are bearing it out. He is, in my view, a much improved fielder.

May 22, 2009 15:31 PM
rating: 0
 
smitty

Oh crud. I meant to add to the second paragraph that while it wouldn't be bad to get a Willingham type to occasionally sit Howard vs. a lefty starter, platooning him makes little sense.



May 22, 2009 14:16 PM
rating: -1
 
Mike V.
(596)
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I think if the opponent brings in a lefty, the Phillies should pinch-hit for Howard, and then put him back in the next time through the lineup like in volleyball. Are they not allowed to do that?

May 22, 2009 14:23 PM
rating: -5
 
smitty

Actually, when teams bring in those often not-that-great lefty pitcher in to pitch to the lefty heavy Phillies, it's not a bad thing sometimes. Utley hits lefties pretty well. Werth crushes them. The Philies, as a team, have done very well vs. lefties in recent years. So if Howard's presence in the lineup encourages teams to use more kinda-lousy lefties vs, them that's a good thing.

May 22, 2009 14:34 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

My main question, in all this, is why vote in May? Are you not attending any games in June? I recognize that you feel this season is too short for the statistics to factor much into your voting, and I can respect that. But by waiting until June, you do get a better gauge on who would be healthy for the All-Star game.

May 22, 2009 15:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Bob

vote early and vote often :)

May 22, 2009 15:34 PM
rating: -1
 
wdreusike

Charlie Manuel better pick a ground ball pitcher to start if Ramirez and Dunn (or Braun) are starting out there. Watching Dunn play RF in the WBC was bad enough and I feel bad for Nationals fans having to endure 15 starts there so far this year. Beltran is pretty great, but he's not THAT great and I would say Soriano might be a better choice over one of Ramirez, Dunn or Braun for that reason.

May 22, 2009 15:42 PM
rating: -1
 
Christopher Miller
(88)
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my guess is that Joe's blind spot about Dunn has a signficant correlation to his longstanding tendency to over-pick the Reds over the past few years. Braun is an altogether better ballplayer--a better hitter (though some more patience would help) and a better fielder. Braun is also a better athelete and better on the basepaths. Top it off with intangibles, and the complete package is an order of magnitude better. Do I like Adam Dunn? absolutely, but if he's hitting 3rd for my team, I'm in trouble.

May 22, 2009 15:55 PM
rating: -4
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think Joe picked Adam Dunn because, over the last few years, his last name has been consistently shorter than Ryan Braun.

May 22, 2009 16:17 PM
rating: -3
 
havens

For someone who agrees with Sheehan on a vast majority of topics, some of these All-Star picks are just mind boggling. Choices just to make a point?

May 23, 2009 15:26 PM
rating: -2
 
Hendo

3B shouldn't be complicated. It should be Zimmerman.

May 24, 2009 17:03 PM
rating: -2
 
BeanoCook

Ryan Braun is the 2nd best hitter in the NL, behind Pujols. It is funny that the stats crowd and Joe Sheehan will take 6 years to see this.

LOL!

May 25, 2009 10:07 AM
rating: -2
 
hessshaun

I really cannot even begin to understand how some people do not have any idea as to the effects of steroids on the human body. I really do not get it at all. Especially people who make a living off analyzing numbers. By no means am I saying all people, but some just choose to ignore it all together.

I just wish someone would write a piece on someone who takes a mid level steroid and how that effects their body physically. The amount of strength that can derive from one cycle of steroids is simply amazing. And, I might add, the average meat head at your local gym does not have access to the same quality of steroid millionaire baseball players do. Regardless, we are not talking about a one or two percent increase off a normal max potential here. Results are significant. So to say that an already large framed man would not benefit from steroids is absolutely ludicrous. This is not even touching on the injury recovery benefits of the cycles.

"I do not see any argument that steroids are the reason for his performance, this year or previously;"

You are right Joe, you don't because the raw data doesn't exist in numerical fashion. You have to create it or find it. Get out of the box that you are thinking in as it relates to this issue. I have a couple male friends who were prescribed female fertility drugs and we all think it's normal. *sarcasm*

In summary, I could care less if the entire league was on steroids. It really doesn't bother me. Maybe it is because I know the effects of steroids, maybe it's because I know that there is no way they can EVER be stopped. I have no problem with him playing in the all star game and he would get my vote as well. My biggest issue is that just throw his steroid usage out the window as if there is not compelling evidence that he takes them.

May 26, 2009 07:21 AM
rating: -1
 
oystertoadfish

Will the Nationals get two all-stars this year, or will Zimmerman or Dunn be snubbed because of how bad the pitchers are? Alternately, for minimum logic the NL could use the time-honored heuristic 'if a team is really bad, take a random reliever and stuff him in the back of the pen' and honor hanrahan.

May 26, 2009 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
djackson

Do people really not understand the difference between "body of work" voting, which is pretty stupid, and "best estimate of current true talent" voting, which is what Joe is clearly doing? Randy Johnson has far and away the best "body of work" of any pitcher in baseball today, and no one is advocating his making the all-star game.

May 29, 2009 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
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