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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.

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