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Monday, June 15, 2009

My All-Star Ballot

Albert Pujols at bat, wearing a 1982 retro jer...Albert Pujols is better than everyone else. Image via Wikipedia

Sky recently did a piece at BtB using the past 2.5 years to select the All-Star team. My personal predilection is to instead use the last calendar year for these selections, as this lets you better recognize new talents while still allowing second half-performances to matter. Unfortunately, FanGraphs currently can't give a calendar-year split for value, but it can do the past two seasons. So, here is my ballot based on those numbers (exception: relievers, who I'm ranking based on WPA), with weight given to more recent performances when it is close.

Position Players

American League

C: Joe Mauer (9.3 WAR) - With fielding included for catchers, he'd rank even higher. Joe is one of the premier talents in baseball, and as long as he's healthy, he's an MVP candidate. Alternate: Mike Napoli (4.2 WAR).

1B: Mark Teixiera (9.3 WAR) - Probably will become a legend now that he's in New York. Alternate: Kevin Youkilis (8.3 WAR)

2B: Dustin Pedroia (8.4 WAR) - Best little guy of his generation, right? Alternate: Brian Roberts (6.9 WAR), barely, over Ian Kinsler.

3B: Evan Longoria (8.8 WAR) - I have a modest man-crush on this guy. Alternate: Alex Rodriguez (6.9 WAR).

SS: Derek Jeter (6.2 WAR) - I've spent a long time dismissing him. Lately, I've started to appreciate him. A little. Alternate: Marco Scutaro (5.5 WAR!).

OF: Matt Holliday (7.8 WAR) - Hasn't done much yet in the AL, but he'll come around. He's too good not to, Coors Field be damned.

OF: Alex Rios (6.8 WAR) - A surprise, but he ranks where he does mostly due to his fielding. I love having great fielders in the corners, and his bat seems to be heating up.

OF: Ichiro Suzuki (6.5 WAR) - A perennial favorite, he's off to an amazing start. He'd play CF on my AL squad.

OF Alternates: Grady Sizemore (6.6 WAR) and Nick Markakis (6.5 WAR). Both are off to a slower start this year than last, which is why Rios & Suzuki get the nod for the starting spots, despite essentially a 4-way tie for second.

National League

C: Brian McCann (7.9 WAR) - I think he's underrated, and I don't know how that's possible. Alternate: Geovanny Soto (5.0), barely over Russell Martin, mostly for fielding.

1B: Albert Pujols (12 WAR) - Simply the best. Alternate: Lance Berkman (8.0 WAR).

2B: Chase Utley (11.4 WAR) - Mr. Underrated is so good, he's only a half-win behind Pujols. Alternate: Brandon Phillips (5.0), barely over Dan Uggla, due to his 2009 numbers.

3B: David Wright (10.3 WAR) - He'd not overlooked, but might be underrated. Alternate: Chipper Jones (9.2 WAR).

SS: Hanley Ramirez (10.4 WAR) - His defense has apparently improved at least to league average, which makes him god-like. Alternate: Jose Reyes (6.6 WAR).

OF: Carlos Beltran (9.3 WAR) - Is it just Steve Phillips, or do the Mets actually not know what they have with this guy?

OF: Manny Ramirez (7.8 WAR) - Sorry, Bud, I still think he deserves it

OF: Jason Werth (6.9 WAR) - This one was a surprise here, but largely on the back of his excellent fielding, Werth ranks 3rd among all NL outfielders in WAR. Why do I still think of him as a platoon player?

OF Alternates: Mike Cameron (6.4 WAR) and Ryan Braun (6.3 WAR), barely over Matt Kemp (6.3 WAR). Cameron gets the nod because he's done it in less playing time, but Braun vs. Kemp was a toss-up. I went for Braun mostly because hitting stats are more reliable than fielding stats, and Braun's the better hitter.

Pitchers

American League

Starters

Roy Halladay (11.6 WAR) - second-highest WAR in baseball over past two seasons.

Cliff Lee (10.3 WAR) - Picked up where he left off last year

C.C. Sabathia (9.7 WAR) - The Yankees have a new horse.

Zack Grienke (9.2 WAR) - Joe Posnanski has a terrific article on Grienke in this month's Baseball Digest. Sounds like a strange guy, but obviously he's exceptionally talented.

Relievers

Frank Francisco (3.76 WPA) - Yes, I know he just went on the DL. But Frank leads everyone in WPA over the last calendar year.

Mariano Rivera (3.25 WPA) - there are whispers that he's starting to decline, but Mariano's still ranked second in credit for wins than any other reliever over the past calendar year.

Brad Ziegler (3.15 WPA) - the submariner has put up outstanding numbers since his arrival in Oakland, prompting some to ask whether other pitchers might have similar success by dropping their arm angle.

National League

Starters

Tim Lincecum (11.0 WAR) - The Freak. I wonder how many young pitchers are trying to model their delivery after his these days. Have I mentioned that the Reds took Drew Stubbs instead of Lincecum in 2006? I have? What was that about a dead horse?

Dan Haren (9.0 WAR) - With Webb on the DL this year, Haren's become the unquestioned ace of the Diamondbacks staff. I remember thinking he might regress after the trade, but he's just pushed his k-rate higher.

Javier Vazquez (7.8 WAR) - The man who always seems to underperform his FIP is still a really good pitcher. This year, he's got his k-rate over 11 k/9. Wow.

Chad Billingsley (7.0 WAR) - Chad has gotten better every year in the big leagues, and is now the staff ace of the best team in the National League

Relievers

Jonathan Broxton (2.90 WPA) - Broxton is just a beast.

Francisco Rodriguez (2.86 WPA) - K-Rod has an 0.57 ERA and has allowed 17 hits in 31 1/3 innings. I don't care what his BABIP is, that's ridiculous.

Ryan Madson (2.62 WPA) - Big, strong, and this year is averaging 95 mph on his fastball