Thursday, June 30, 2005

All-Star Ballot

Time to submit my real All-Star ballot! Here are my picks, with stats and a brief rationale. I'm one of those people who weights first half of the current year performance heavily, if only because the vast majority of other fans don't. VORP = value over replacement player, with replaacement player meaning a player in AAA or on waivers. Rate2, according to Baseball Prospectus, is: "A way to look at the fielder's rate of production, equal to 100 plus the number of runs above or below average this fielder is per 100 games. A player with a rate of 110 is 10 runs above average per 100 games, a player with an 87 is 13 runs below average per 100 games, etc." The "2" means that this number has been adjusted for league difficulty. In other words, if you're over 100, you're an productive defender. Below 100, unproductive defender. Note that "productive" and "skilled" don't necessarily mean the same thing. Defensive metrics are primitive, but they're still a lot better than fielding percentage alone.

American League

C: Jason Varitek, BOS
.310/.380/.556/10 HR/33 RBI/0 SB/29.7 VORP/106 Rate2

Varitek is by far the best catcher in the AL. No controversy here, as he leads in the voting.

1B: Mark Teixeira, TEX
.287/.356/.550/20 HR/58 RBI/1 SB/26.0 VORP/103 Rate2

Teixeira recovered from a slow start, and has is fulfilling his potential as the best first baseman in the AL. Thankfully, he has taken over 1st place in the voting from Tino "One Week Wonder" Martinez.

2B: Brian Roberts, BAL
.365/.435/.612/13 HR/44 RBI/16 SB/50.4 VORP/87 Rate2

Roberts lost some of his power from the first 2 months, but he continues to hit for high average and steal bases. His defense has been poor, but the only AL second baseman who has hit anywhere near as well, Alfonso Soriano, has been even worse in the field. The fans have him at first in the balloting, as they should.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
.329/.424/.589/20 HR/66 RBI/8 SB/45.2 VORP/84 Rate2

Sometimes I do a double take when I see his career home run total (401) and his age (29). Even a significant drop in his defense this year hasn't prevented him from dominating at his position. If there's justice, Brandon Inge will make it as Detroit's rep. A-Rod is leading the a lot.

SS: Miguel Tejada, BAL
.319/.365/.603/19 HR/60 RBI/1 SB/44.6 VORP/93 Rate2

Even though Derek Jeter is having his best defensive season yet (101 Rate2), Tejada's hitting is good enough to make up for his below-average defense. Tejada leads in fan voting.

OF: Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
.342/.400/.586/12 HR/46 RBI/6 SB/33.5 VORP/105 Rate2

OF: Gary Sheffield, NYY
.300/.396/.502/13 HR/55 RBI/6 SB/30.6 VORP/100 Rate2

OF: Johnny Damon, BOS
.338/.383/.464/3 HR/41 RBI/8 SB/27.1 VORP/99 Rate2

Vlad was an easy pick--even though he missed a couple weeks with injury, he still led AL outfielders in VORP, which is a cumulative stat. Sheffield was an easy choice, being a clear second place in AL OF VORP. The third choice came down to Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who have been pretty much equally valuable to their teams. Matsui has a better SLG, Damon has better OBP. I picked Damon because he plays center. VORP does take position into account, but as a general principle of mine, I don't like to see a non-center fielder out there in the All-Star game. So Johnny it is. In terms of fan voting, Manny Ramirez leads, Vlad is in second, and Ichiro is in third. I can't really argue with Manny, given his popularity and dingers...I just think Sheffield has been slightly better. As for dice here. His OBP is a pedestrian .337. His defense is the only part of his game that's above average, and in the outfield, that doesn't cut it. Damon is a much better choice.

DH: David Ortiz, BOS
.308/.387/.568/19 HR/66 RBI/0 SB/36.7 VORP

Travis Hafner (30.8 VORP) has overcome a slow start and actually gave Papi a run for the money. Papi prevails based on better power numbers and the fact that he played 9 games in the field (only 1 error!) compared with 1 game in the field by Hafner.

National League

C: Mike Piazza, NYM
.267/.326/.453/9 HR/34 RBI/0 SB/16.9 VORP/94 Rate2

Mike Piazza is creaky and old, but those numbers still give him the highest VORP in the NL among catchers. I could have given this to Jason LaRue or Paul Lo Duca (Ramon Hernandez has taken a nosedive this month), but I want to reward Piazza for posting his best Rate2 (so far) since 1998. Since neither LaRue nor Lo Duca are above average either, why not give the nod to the future Hall of Famer?

1B: Derrek Lee, CHC
.387/.464/.723/23 HR/65 RBI/10 SB/67.4 VORP/109 Rate2

That's about as good of a half-season as you can have, especially factoring in the stolen bases and fielding. Pujols is overshadowed yet again, although he's leading in the polls. Lee deserves it, and may overtake him.

2B: Chase Utley, PHI
.312/.380/.526/11 HR/38 RBI/7 SB/24.2 VORP/101 Rate2

Jeff Kent has a higher cumulative VORP, but has accumulated that in 80 more plate appearances than Utley has. I'm not going to hold that against Utley, given that all of his rate stats are better than Kent's. Kent has an overwhelming lead in the polls (Utley is 5th), but Utley should be there. Hopefully he'll get a reserve spot.

3B: Morgan Ensberg, HOU
.277/.378/.554/20 HR/54 RBI/6 SB/25.5 VORP/110 Rate2

Basically, this was a toss-up between Ensberg and Aramis Ramirez (Chipper Jones is hurt; I ain't voting for a hurt guy). I gave the nod to Ensberg despite a slightly lower VORP total, mostly because of Ensberg's superior steals and fielding (Ramirez is at 100 Rate2). Plus, I like the underdog story. The fans are voting in Scott Rolen, who only has 150 plate appearances and is hitting .243. Morons.

SS: Felipe Lopez, CIN
.303/.349/.548/13 HR/45 RBI/5 SB/28.9 VORP/88 Rate2

I was going to write in Bill Hall here, but then realized that Hall has only played about 60% of his games at shortstop, and I don't like the idea of a utility man starting in the All-Star game. He should make the team, but he shouldn't start. At any rate, Lopez has been far and away the best hitting shortstop in the NL. His shaky defense (combined with Hall's 110 Rate2) gave me pause, but I feel good voting for a Red legitimately (no ballot stuffing for me this year). The moron fans have Cesar Izturis as a starter, he of the .336 SLG. Wake up, people.

OF: Bobby Abreu, PHI
.319/.436/.557/17 HR/52 RBI/19 SB/45.5 VORP/104 Rate2

OF: Jason Bay, PIT
.311/.388/.573/15 HR/40 RBI/4 SB/38.8 VORP/106 Rate2

OF: Andruw Jones, ATL
.283/.359/.599/24 HR/55 RBI/2 SB/33.8 VORP/103 Rate2

Abreu is a no-brainer--he is the best 5-tool player in baseball today, especially since A-Rod has lost his fielding and Beltran has lost his legs this year. Bay wasn't a hard pick to make either, especially when taking his defense into account. It took a long time for me to decide between Cabrera and Andruw Jones. I went with Jones due to my centerfield corollary, but it was a damn tough decision to make. It came down to Jones providing better power numbers and playing above average D (his defense has slipped in the past couple years) at a premium position. The fans, to their credit, have Abreu first in the balloting. Cabrera is fourth, which is my position for him as well. Edmonds is second in the voting. He's 5th for me, so can't complain too much there. What ticks me off is that Carlos Beltran is in third place. Beltran has quietly been a bust this season, with only 9 homers and 1 stolen base. Not exactly worth the money yet. Jones is 9th on the ballot, and Bay is not even in the top 15, which is criminal.

So that's my ballot. I'm gonna vote 25 times. I'm not advocating that anyone vote the exact same way I do, but I would like to especially implore you all to vote for Bay, Lopez, and Utley, as these players are below the radar of the casual fan, but deserve to be recognized. Online voting ends at 11:59 PM on Thursday. Happy voting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if you read Beyond the Box Score, but I was pretty interested to read a post there recently positing Bobby Abreu as the unrecognized HOFer among active players. If that guy's conclusions are anywhere near correct, it's great to see that Abreu is getting his due from the fans this year and last year, as I don't think he's been often mentioned as an MVP-caliber player.


1:46 PM  

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