By Jason Wojciechowski on July 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM
Players who made both teams:
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Chris Davis, Prince Fielder
2B: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado
OF: Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista, Torii Hunter, Alex Gordon
DH: David Ortiz
P: Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Mariano Rivera, Yu Darvish
That's 19, which means that more than half the team is to my liking. There's a lot of disagreement on pitchers, though. Here's essentially what happened on the places where there's discord:
- J.J. Hardy got voted in at shortstop instead of my preferred Elvis Andrus. Hardy's defensive metrics were strong last year and have been in general, but as I understand it, Andrus is believed by scouts to be the best defensive shortstop in the American League, good enough not to be moved off the position by Jurickson Profar, good enough to be re-signed to a long contract despite unimpressive offensive numbers. I like watching him play more than I like Hardy's power game, but the fans like the dongers (67 of them in the last 2 1/2 years), so he's the guy.
- Jhonny Peralta as the reserve shortstop over Jed Lowrie has a lot of dimensions, but it's not a blindingly awful pick—they're both good hitters and neither is known as a good defender. Peralta is more famous.
- At backup catcher, Jason Castro is the Astros' representative (and is having a good year, nearly the equal to that of Carlos Santana with the bat) and Sal Perez is ... well, I can't explain Perez over Santana. The defense is certainly much better regarded for the Royals backstop, but Santana is a star with the bat, and in the All-Star Game, I'd rather watch that than pitch-framing.
- At first base, one of my last men was Albert Pujols, while the real team took Edwin Encarnacion. I still think Pujols will finish the year very similarly to how 2012 turned out (i.e. still a star-level player, if hardly scratching the heights he once reached), but if you want your team based on 2013 numbers, you take Encarnacion. I had a hard time leaving him off.
- The AL team managed to get Ben Zobrist on the roster, which I didn't do because I thought Jose Altuve should be the Astros' representative, and I couldn't kick Dustin Pedroia out. Because Jason Kipnis made the squad based on a bodacious 2013 (he's on a seven-win pace by BP's WARP), Zobrist is perhaps more an outfielder for this team than a second baseman, which in that case means they essentially took him over Cespedes, who I admit has not played his way onto the team in 2013 but is there based on my belief that he is still a star in the league and on the idea that players like Cespedes, with loud power and loud arms and loud speed, are the most fun in All-Star games. This is the time for someone to try throwing a runner out at first base from left field, and Cespedes is the player to make the attempt.
- In an AL with five third basemen who are either well established as stars or having star-caliber 2013 seasons (Cabrera, Machado, Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager), the powers that be somehow found room for only two. It hurt me as an A's fan to leave Donaldson off, but I couldn't justify four third basemen. Apparently the league couldn't even justify three, preferring a third catcher to a third third baseman. In an exhibition where you're not trying to wear anyone out, this probably makes sense. In a world where we're picking stars, I don't like seeing Jason Castro or Salvador Perez on the team over Evan Longoria.
- Aside from Zobrist over Cespedes, the team also has Nelson Cruz over Josh Willingham. From 2009 to 2012, the two are almost precisely even in WARP (which each essentially producing 14 wins), with Willingham's 2011-12 being superior while Cruz amassed his value in 2009-10. Cruz is winning this year handily, though, as Willingham has a sub-.400 slugging as of this writing. I'll admit that it weighed on my mind that I find Willingham criminally underrated—he's never made an All-Star team. Then again, Cruz has only made it once. I'm not going to war on this pick.
- At pitcher, there are some relievers: Brett Cecil, Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins. None of these is mandated by the one-player-per-team rule: respectively, Encarnacion, Darvish, and Mauer make each player superfluous as far as that goes. They're all having good years, obviously, though none approach Greg Holland's otherworldliness on a variety of levels (not allowing runs, ridiculous component stats). Jesse Crain has been absurd, and he's listed on the team, but he's hurt, so Perkins replaces him. Being realistic, this was going to happen. Relievers get chosen because the manager wants relievers and people seem to think relievers are something other than failed starters, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. You can see the extra two relievers (four on the real team, two on mine) squeezing out, say, Doug Fister and R.A. Dickey. Maybe you'd rather see Nathan's one-inning mastery than Fister's, but not me.
- The other starters boil down to Justin Masterson, Bartolo Colon, and Hisashi Iwakuma over CC Sabathia, James Shields, and Jered Weaver. There's a pronounced "guys having good years" vs. "guys who have been stars in the past and who I think are still stars" battle going on here, which is why I emphasized in my All-Star selection post that we need to lay out our criteria or we talk past each other.
One A's note: Bartolo Colon is the only A's representative, and he's technically on the team as an injury replacement. (Note that he could pitch the Sunday before game, and if he does, he'll be replaced, hopefully by an Athletic, assuming some other Oakland player doesn't sneak on in the meantime.) Colon is apparently replacing Clay Buchholz, which is weird. If Colon is the only A's representative, then there's a sense in which the "base" team, the one before you consider injuries, doesn't have an Athletic at all, which offends my sense of fairness and rule-following. Clay Buchholz gets a little notch in his cap (and a bonus under his contract, probably) and it doesn't cost anyone anything (except the Red Sox), so maybe I'm being oversensitive.
On the MLB page announcing the teams:
How can Colon be the only A's representative and was chosen as a injury replacement?!?!?!? Are you saying no one form the A's would have been chosen if it was not for the injury?!?!?!