Yes, that’s right: All-Stars.
A year ago, during the inaugural season of The Daily Prospectus,
I explained my
rationale for selecting my All-Stars in early June, about a month
before the actual teams are announced. I believe the All-Star Game is for
the true superstars of the sport, and my selections do not hinge primarily
on performances over the first half of the season. They certainly would not
be impacted by four weeks of play.
So rather than wait until Independence Day to publish my ballot, I do so
now. The American League will run today, with the NL following on Friday.
First Base: Jason Giambi, Athletics. The core group of AL
first basemen that made this choice so difficult for so long is in decline,
leaving Giambi and Carlos Delgado as the only two candidates. Given
comparable established levels of performance, we’ll give this one to Giambi
based on his near-.500 OBP this season.
Second Base: Roberto Alomar, Indians. Here’s a good example of
what I mean by "true superstars of the sport." Bret Boone
is having a great two months, two months that follow four years of mediocre
play. Alomar is merely putting up his typical great performance
(.334/.402/.502). There’s going to be a clamor to make Boone an All-Star,
but there’s simply no way he deserves it over a future Hall of Famer having
a good season.
Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez, Rangers. This is an easier choice
than usual, as Rodriguez has clearly set himself apart from Derek
Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra has missed the season to date with
his wrist injury.
BP has been a primary user of the term "Trinity" to describe these
three, and that’s probably done Rodriguez an injustice. Maybe Miguel
Tejada should replace him as the third member, with Rodriguez given his
Third Base: Troy Glaus, Angels. If there’s any easier choice
on the ballot, I can’t find it. Glaus is the best of what has become a real
lousy crop of American League third basemen. Of course, it doesn’t really
matter as long as Cal Ripken stays active.
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers. You won’t find a bigger
Jorge Posada fan than me, but Rodriguez’s performance with the bat
over the past few years is impossible to ignore, even if he’s slipped a bit
this season. Like Alomar, he’s one of the best ever, the kind of player for
whom we have an All-Star Game.
Designated Hitter: Edgar Martinez, Mariners. He’s the greatest
designated hitter ever, and if you think that’s damning with faint praise,
so be it.
How about this: he’s the most underrated right-handed hitter in history.
Outfield: Manny Ramirez, Juan Gonzalez, Ichiro Suzuki.
Ramirez is in the no-brainer category, even though he’s played just one game
in the field so far this season. Gonzalez is having a excellent season,
enough to make me overlook the mediocre year he suffered through in 2000.
I know picking Suzuki violates the general tenets I’ve established, and if I
could find three AL outfielders clearly better than him, I’d pick them. But
after Ramirez, you can pretty much throw the rest of the candidates into a
hat. Gonzalez, Bobby Higginson, Raul Mondesi, Bernie
Williams, and Shannon Stewart are all legitimate candidates.
Picking Suzuki, though:
- Gets a second Mariner into the starting lineup. They are the best
team in the league.
- Gets someone who can play center field into the lineup.
- Gives the slot to the player who is most attractive to a large audience.
Put simply, I’d rather see Ichiro on July 10 than Higginson or Mondesi or
Stewart, and given that they’re all qualified, that’s the deciding factor.
Deciding between Suzuki and, in the end, Williams, was the hardest choice I
had to make in the AL.
NL tomorrow. I’m fairly sure I’ll have a different problem with that
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by