Weekly Hit Ground Ball: 2010 All-Star selections

WhgbHlSqThe 2010 All-Star Game takes place in Anaheim on 13 April (starting at 1 a.m. on 14 April for us in the UK).  While it’s an exhibition game rather than an intensely competitive match-up, despite Bud Selig’s misguided attempts to ‘make it mean something’ by giving home field advantage in the World Series to the victorious league, it’s still a big event for baseball fans every year.

Part of the reason for its continuing appeal is that the fans decide who makes the starting lineups, basing their selections on whatever reasoning they wish.  Blatant bias towards their chosen team’s players, studying performance using advanced statistical metrics or simply a person’s favourite players regardless of how they are performing so far in 2010; each method is as valid as the other and there are no incorrect answers. 

By the team this column is online, the starting line-ups would have been announced.  Those lineups were chosen by baseball fans based all around the world thanks to the online voting system on MLB.com that allows everyone the chance to vote up to 25 times (for a reason I’ve yet to work out). Both fellow BGB writer Mark George and I only voted once each and these are the names we submitted on our ballots.  We agreed with each other on 10 of the 17 selections.  Feel free to share who you voted for in the comments section below. 

American League

C

Mark: John Buck. Bit of a down year for Mauer, so I’ll go for the unexpected slugger.

Matt: Kurt Suzuki. Unashamedly a complete ‘homer’ pick. Mauer will get the spot so I’ll show some support for the A’s catcher: one of the few quality position players we’ve got.

1B

Mark: Miguel Cabrera. Just edges Morneau and Youkilis for me. Got to pick the possible MVP.

Matt: Miguel Cabrera. I actually had Morneau down on my notepad, but changed my mind when I got the ballot screen. Can’t go wrong either way really.

2B

Mark: Robinson Cano. Easiest pick on the ballot?

Matt: Robinson Cano. Mark’s comment hits the nail on the head. Cano’s having an outstanding year so far and is the clear choice for this spot.

SS

Mark: Elvis Andrus. Hardly the dilemma of old between Jeter, A-Rod, Nomar and Tejada, but I’ll take the young Ranger.

Matt: Derek Jeter. I had exactly the same thought as Mark when considering the possible picks here. Jeter still remains from that stellar shortstop class and after being instrumental in the Yankees’ World Series win last year is having another very solid season, if not quite excelling as he has in the past. No other candidate has shined brightly enough to displace him yet.

3B

Mark: Evan Longoria. Honourable mentions to Beltre and Young.

Matt: Evan Longoria. As with first base, I had two equally deserving names in mind (the other being Adrian Beltre) but I plumped for the Rays’ man.

OF

Mark: Alex Rios, I don’t think anyone expected a comeback quite this good.  Josh Hamilton, picked a good time to heat up.  Vernon Wells, starting to justify that huge contract. Honourable outfield mentions to Ichiro, Nelson Cruz and Choo.

Matt: Josh Hamilton, started slowly but he’s been healthy and ‘locked in’ over the last two months and when he’s like that he’s an absolute monster.  Carl Crawford, having another typical ‘Crawford’ season and will be badly missed if he does depart from Tampa Bay over the coming offseason.  Ichiro, the hit machine with a cannon arm has to be there.

DH

Mark: Vlad Guerrero. Back to his best.

Matt: Vlad Guerrero. Had a tough time last year but the move to the hitter-haven in Arlington seemed like just the thing to get him back on track, and so it’s proved.

National League

C

Mark: Miguel Olivo. Pick of a mediocre pack this year.

Matt: Miguel Olivo. Same as above. The thin Denver air certainly approves with him.

1B

Mark: Albert Pujols. But Votto is just a hair behind him.

Matt: Albert Pujols: Not quite at his best so far this season, but he’s still the best around. Honourable mention to Adrian Gonzalez who continues to defy Petco Park’s pitcher bias. 

2B

Mark: Martin Prado. The guy is a hit machine, would have voted him in before Utley got hurt anyway. Weeks and Johnson have bounced back well.

Matt: Chase Utley. I decided to vote for Utley despite his injury to give him his due as one of the elite ballplayers in the game today. Padro would fully deserve the starting berth in Utley’s absence.

SS

Mark: Hanley Ramirez. With Tulo out, it has to be Hanley.

Matt: Hanley Ramirez. Same as above, regardless of Ramirez’s occasionally annoying behaviour.

3B

Mark: David Wright. Great to see Wright having a better year. Honourable mentions to Rolen, Zimmerman and McGehee.

Matt: David Wright. Put 2009 down as an aberration, he’s already hit more homers this year than in the whole of 2009 and is putting up typically excellent numbers.

OF

Mark: Andre Ethier, has been in a slump after injury, but still thoroughly deserves to start. Carlos Gonzalez,  I’ve been really impressed with him. Seems like there’s nothing he can’t do. Ryan Braun, very close between him and Werth here. Honourable mentions to Holliday, Rasmus and Heyward.

Matt: Ryan Braun, power numbers are a little down on previous seasons so far, but still a fantastic player.  Jayson Werth, like Braun he’s not hit the long-ball as frequently so far, but otherwise he’s having a good year and merits a starting spot when his 2009 heroics are added to the equation.  Andrew McCutchen, bit of a wild card pick as he’s not quite at the All-Star level yet, but he’s got all the tools to get there very soon and the Pirates need something to cheer about.

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