The online voting system has made the MLB All-Star game a great way for fans around the world to be a part of the event. The deadline for submitting your 2009 MLB All-Star ballot(s) at MLB.com is 4.59 on Friday, British time.
Mark published his All-Star selections in one go on Saturday. I’m going to split mine into two posts, with the American League taking centre stage today. As you will see, I’ve named my first choice and an honourable mention for every position. I’m with Mark and Joe on their dislike of the fact that everyone can vote twenty-five times. My system this year was to vote three times, submitting my first choice line-ups twice and then voting for my honourable mentions once.
C – Joe Mauer. I can’t argue with Mark on this pick. Mauer is having a great season, maintaining a high batting average while also adding some power to his game. Despite missing the first month, the Twins’ catcher has already bettered his best home run tally for a season. Varitek and Posada trail him in the voting thanks to their performances in years past, but it would be criminal if either really got close to Mauer’s vote tally. Honourable mention: Kurt Suzuki. He’s a bit of a homer pick as an A’s fan, but Kurt has continued to impress day in, day out while working with a very young pitching staff.
1B – Justin Morneau. Our resident Twins fan Marty will be happy with these first two selections. There isn’t a standout candidate here, with the likes of Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis and Miguel Cabrera also performing well across the board. I’ll go for Morneau simply because he’s done well for my fantasy baseball team. Honourable mention: Russell Branyan has had a brilliant first half with the Mariners.
2B – Ian Kinsler. As Mark stated, Kinsler and Aaron Hill are the two main choices here, although Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia will get plenty of votes too. It’s a tough call, but Kinsler’s threat on the basepads just gives him the edge. Honourable mention: Adam Kennedy, who has been an inspired pick-up by Oakland’s GM Billy Beane.
3B – Evan Longoria. The Rays’ third baseman is only in his second season, but he has already established himself as one of the best young players in the Majors. Alex Rodriguez would normally run him close for the starting jersey, but not in his current hobbled condition. Honourable mention: Michael Young. He didn’t want to be a third baseman, but he’s accepted the role now and Texas are being rewarded with another solid season from their former shortstop.
SS – Jason Bartlett. An all-Rays left side to the infield. Jeter has had a good season so far and will almost certainly get the stating position, but Bartlett has outperformed him over these first few months. Normally in an even contest I would go for the guy who has produced over a longer period of time (i.e. Jeter). In this case, I’ll add my vote to Bartlett’s cause as Jeter’s already made plenty of All-Star games and not always as the most deserving candidate. Honourable mention: Marco Scutaro. A firm favourite when he was playing for the A’s, Scoot has had a great start to 2009 for the Blue Jays.
LF – Jason Bay. He’s not the same as Manny Ramirez in his prime, but then again neither is Manny anymore. Bay provides the Red Sox with strong offensive production in all the major categories. Leg injuries have reduced his stolen base threat, but apart from that he is the definition of a professional hitter and a perfect fit for the Red Sox’s lineup. Honourable mention: Carl Crawford. Leads the Majors in stolen bases and, unlike some speedsters, gets on base at a decent rate.
CF – Torii Hunter. Hunter has put up typically good offensive numbers and continues to be an excellent, exciting fielder and a real leader on the Angels’ roster. As an A’s fan, I’m predisposed to dislike anyone wearing a Halos uniform, but I just can’t bring myself to take against their centre fielder. He plays the game to a high standard, gives his all every day and does it with a smile on his face. A top guy and a top player. Honourable mention: Curtis Granderson. Another good guy who does everything he can to help his team win.
RF - Ichiro. We all know he’s going to be on the starting roster: the Japanese nation will make sure of that. However, this isn’t a sentimental pick. Ichiro’s greatness means that it’s easy to overlook yet another strong season. He doesn’t hit for much power, but the number of total bases he has accumulated still ranks right up there with the best in the American League. Honourable mention: Ben Zobrist. He’s been a real bonus for the Rays so far this season, while filling in at a number of positions.