TGG's Picks for the 2015 MLB All-Stars
Everybody's picking the Royals—why, we don't know—but here's our choices for who we think should start in baseball's 86th Midsummer Classic.
By Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio, This Great Game
Posted July 3, 2015
If there ever was a time when sanity was needed If there ever was a time when sanity was needed to intervene in the selection of major league All-Stars, this is the year. We keep reading about a system that’s lost control of itself, with savvy online voters abusing the system in different ways while MLB, for the most part, turns a blind eye because more online votes means more visits to mlb.com, which means more eyeballs looking at online ads that MLB is receiving a good dose of dough from.
Nearly a half-billion votes will have been tallied this year. Think about that. Half a billion. And nearly half of those seem to have been cast by Kansas City fans, who are threatening to turn the American League All-Star team into a mirror image of the Royals. But perhaps that’s what happens when K.C. is the only major league city outfitted with ultra-fast Google Fiber.
With the 1957 Cincinnati ballot-stuffing episode not lost on the powers of baseball, there has been some wrist-slapping as MLB announced that 60 million votes—presumably those cast for Royals fans—would be voided. But what we’ve seen in this year’s results from the public once again shows that All-Star voting is far more of a popularity contest than a thoughtful, analytical reflection into who really deserves to be starting in the Midsummer Classic.
That’s where Ed and I come in. Just because he roots for the Dodgers and I for the Giants doesn’t mean we’re going to be picking all our favorite players, like they’ve been doing again and again and again in Kansas City. We’ve been diligent enough to mind the worthy All-Star candidates who’ve been relatively off the radar and may even be unknown to some of the people hitting ‘send’ ad nauseam on the only nine players they know (likely, for their favorite team—and likely, for the Royals). There’s no bias to be found here, no hacking, no “hey, my wife thinks he’s cute so I’ll vote for the uglier one.” We’ve picked, via our educated baseball minds, the truly best players who should take the field at Cincinnati on July 14.
And here’s a spoiler for you folks in Kansas City: No Royals have been selected here. Not as a way to stick it back to you. It’s because they’re just not that good to start.
Catcher, National League
Eric's choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
Ed's choice: Buster Posey, San Francisco
An easier choice than in past years, as Posey has clearly set him apart from the other contenders at this position, including St. Louis’ Yadier Molina. Offensively and perhaps defensively, there’s no better catcher in the game.
Catcher, American League
Eric's choice: Stephen Vogt, Oakland
Ed's choice: Stephen Vogt, Oakland
Salvador Perez is one of the few Royals who warrants a conversation (and maybe a vote), but it’s hard to ignore the production of the one-time backup Vogt, who’s saved the A’s hide so far this year with the same number of homers as Perez, but with more RBIs, walks, a better batting average and the same percentage of nailing opposing basestealers as the defensively heralded Perez.
First Base, National League
Eric's choice: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Ed's choice: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Easy pick. Goldy’s numbers make him a prime MVP candidate, though the BBWAA will try to come up with an excuse to pick someone else as always.
First Base, American League
Eric's choice: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Ed's choice: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
There’s so many solid candidates to choose from—sorry, Eric Hosmer, you’re no better than the middle of this pack—but Cabrera just plods along with Hall-of-Fame numbers year after year, including this one (he’s on pace to hit .340 with 30 homers, 110 RBIs and 100 walks).
Second Base, National League
Eric's choice: Dee Gordon, Miami
Ed's choice: Dee Gordon, Miami
We nearly had our first disagreement as I strongly considered the Giants’ Joe Panik and Cardinals’ Kolten Wong, but Gordon’s .350-plus average and speed is just too much not to ignore. And although Gordon has a reputation for a lead glove, he hasn’t been that bad on defense this season.
Second Base, American League
Eric's choice: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
Ed's choice: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
There’s some good choices here with Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia and Brian Dozier worthy of a chat, but Kipnis is a feel-good bounce-back story with exceptional numbers (including a .340-.420-.510 line)—and, in our opinion, he’s miles ahead of the Royals’ Omar Infante (.230, no homers), whose inclusion as a possible All-Star starter would really be the most embarrassing of all.
Third Base, National League
Eric's choice: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
Ed's choice: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati
Finally, our first difference of opinion. Frazier has been a home run machine for the Reds, on pace to crack 50—but so too is Arenado, albeit with Coors Field’s mile-high handicap helping his power numbers. Still, Arenado gets my vote for his incredible defense.
Third Base, American League
Eric's choice: Josh Donaldson, Toronto
Ed's choice: Josh Donaldson, Toronto
Mike Moustakas has been getting the Royal bump from the electorate, but the real choice should come down to Donaldson and the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Both Ed and I go with the former (on pace for a .300-40-105ish season), leaving us to once again ask: Just what was Oakland GM Billy Beane thinking when he sent Donaldson to Toronto four full years before free agency?
Shortstop, National League
Eric's choice: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco
Ed's choice: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis
It’s a close one between two guys who’ve been neck-and-neck offensively with a variance in defensive prowess, as Peralta has fewer errors but far less range than the dynamic Crawford, who’s made more plays happen. Ed sides with Peralta, I side with Crawford. Call it Giants bias, perhaps, but hey—I’m not voting every Giant in like the folks in K.C.
Shortstop, American League
Eric's choice: Xander Bogaerts, Boston
Ed's choice: Jose Iglesias, Detroit
Ed likes the former Red Sock in Iglesias, and I was inclined to believe him until I took a closer look at current Red Sock Bogaerts, who lacks Iglesias’ 300+ average but makes up for it with better offensive production otherwise and an electric display of defense. Alcides Escobar will probably get the nod here from the public. Why? Because he’s a Royal.
Outfield, National League
Eric's choice: Bryce Harper, Washington; Giancarlo Stanton, Miami; Joc Pederson, Los Angeles
Ed's choice: Bryce Harper, Washington; Giancarlo Stanton, Miami; A.J. Pollock, Arizona
Harper and Stanton are the easy picks—but, ahh, who’s the third guy, the wild card? I go with the exciting Dodger rookie Pederson, who surely looks to follow Harper and Stanton to superstardom (if he isn’t already close), while Ed pulls out Pollock (on pace to go .300-18-70 with 100 runs and 30 steals), who’s emerging as a star force in Arizona.
Outfield, American League
Eric's choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Nelson Cruz, Seattle; Jose Bautista, Toronto
Ed's choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Nelson Cruz, Seattle; Jose Bautista, Toronto
Complete agreement here, although we’re not in sync with the voters—or more accurately the ballot itself, as Cruz is slotted under the DH category (which is silly, since Cruz has actually played more outfield this year). Just keepin’ it real, folks.
Designated Hitter, American League
Eric's choice: Prince Fielder, Texas
Ed's choice: Prince Fielder, Texas
On the flip side of Nelson Cruz above, Fielder is listed as a first baseman on the ballot even though he's spent far more time as a DH so far. So that, combined with his excellent comeback numbers in the first half, make his inclusion here a proper choice.
Starting Pitcher, National League
Eric's choice: Max Scherzer, Washington
Ed's choice: Max Scherzer, Washington
Zack Greinke has a lower ERA and Gerrit Cole more wins, but really—if you need someone to take the mound to save the Earth, Scherzer has to be your guy. He could have more wins than Cole (he’s had four quality starts that’s resulted in losses or no-decisions) and his 0.79 WHIP is easily the majors’ best.
Starting Pitcher, American League
Eric's choice: Dallas Keuchel, Houston
Ed's choice: Sonny Gray, Oakland
It’s time to give a little love to Houston—and Dallas, as in the 27-year-old southpaw who’s been ringing it up for the first-place Astros this year. That’s my pick, anyway; Ed stays within the West to embrace Gray, who’s worthy enough but just behind—and we mean just behind—Keuchel in most statistical categories.
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