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2019 MLB American League All-Stars

No preamble this year.  The real picks (besides the starters) come out later today.  And I am going to beat them…I think for the first time ever.

32 players are selected.  20 position players, 12 pitchers.  This time I am not cheating on the numbers.  Each team will still be represented.  (S) for the starter.  Comments below each position.

C:  Gary Sanchez, NYY (S), James McCann, CWS

Sanchez is pretty obvious but McCann??  Yup.  Actually, there were a few candidates for the backup job.  Christian Vazquez (Bos), Josh Phegley (Oak), Robert Perez (Cle) or Omar Narvaez (Sea) would have suited just fine.  McCann had the highest OPS of the five.  Done.

1B:  Carlos Santana, Cle (S), Luke Voit, NYY

Similar to catcher, Santana is clear-cut and then there were others that could have been selected instead of Voit.  C.J. Cron (Min…after hitting 30 dingers for TB last year and getting released), Jose Abreu (CWS) or Edwin Encarnacion (Sea/NYY) could have filled this spot too.  Voit had the highest OPS of the four.  Done.

2B:  DJ LeMahieu, NYY (S), Whit Merrifield, KC, Tommy La Stella, LAA

Tail between my legs on DJ.  Although his glove is top-notch, I figured his offense was the product of Coors Field when he played half his games in Colorado.  Whoops.  In my defense, all of the major league teams apparently thought the same, including the Yankees themselves.  When he signed in NY, with Gleybar Torres, Troy Tulowitski (until Didi Gregorius was healthy) and Miguel Andujar were supposed to handle 2B, SS & 3B, respectively.  So where exactly was he going to play?  1B?  Maybe.  But they had Voit and Greg Bird already there too.  People got hurt, DJ played and then made a lot of people look bad.  I will accept that.

Merrifield is the Royal rep, but he has earned it.  Even with the lack of steals this year.  Hunter Dozier was really the only other KC candidate.  But he has missed some time this year and sucked when he came up last year…so maybe it’s just a nice 50-something game run.  I just realized Whit has played a bit more outfield this season than second, but I am going to leave him here.  His versatility will be nice, as will La Stella’s.  Speaking of sucking, La Stella is a journeyman.  But thought he belonged.  Took him over Brandon Lowe from the Rays, who doesn’t play against lefties and has fanned over 100 times already this year.  As a middle infielder…yikes!

3B:  Alex Bregman, Hou (S), Matt Chapman, Oak, Rafael Devers, Bos

Bregman was easy, Chapman was the A’s rep and Devers is having a breakout season.  Yoan Moncada (CWS) is also having a breakout season, so if you put him over Devers I would not argue.  But once again, Raffy has the higher OPS. Don…you get the point.  Gio Urshela (NYY)?  Nice season, but…no.

SS:  Xander Bogaerts, Bos (S), Jorge Polanco, Min

No Francisco Lindor (Cle), who started late and hasn’t quite caught up yet.  No Carlos Correa (Hou), who is hurt…again.  Tim Anderson (CWS) started out blazing…and still has good numbers…and Elvis Andrus (Tex) is there too, but decided on just these two.  Polanco won the real vote, but it looks like X has had the better season…and more established track record.  For the record, I did not exclude Gleybar Torres because he is a New York Yankee.  I excluded him because he has done a great deal of his damage against the wretched Baltimore Orioles.  10 of his 19 homers are against them, for instance.  Enough said…for these purposes anyway.

OF:  Mike Trout, LAA (S), George Springer, Hou (S), Joey Gallo, Tex (S), Eddie Rosario, Min, Max Kepler, Min, Trey Mancini, Bal

Trout…yup.  The best player on the planet, still.  Springer and Gallo were a little tougher.  They’ve both missed a whole slew of games.  But have been dominant when healthy, so that gave them the nod.  TWO Twin outfielders?  Yup.  Well deserved.  Mancini is the Oriole rep.  But don’t discount his numbers.  Michael Brantley (Hou) and Domingo Santana (Sea) and even Austin Meadows (TB) have cases.  Wouldn’t fight any of them.  Mookie Betts?  Last years’ American League Most Valuable Player?  Wasn’t even a consideration for me, despite me being an unabashed homer.  While I actually expect him to make the real team, he has…not been very good this year.  Maybe the expectations are too high.  But SHOULDN’T they be?  He looks completely disinterested.  I actually didn’t even have him on my initial list.  Sorry.

DH:  J.D. Martinez, Bos (S), Daniel Vogelbach, Sea

J.D. is not having the same season as he did last year, but he is the clear choice here.  Hunter Pence got voted in as the starter in the real world and although he has put up some nice numbers for a surprising Texas team, I just can’t do it.  Vogelbach has cooled after a hot start, but we chose him as the Mariner rep over Domingo.  If you included Pence and Domingo and dropped Vogelbach and someone else…so be it.  There was a pretty tight race to determine a great deal of the American League reserves so I am very interested to see what happens in real life.  Can’t go wrong with several players.

P:  Justin Verlander, Hou (S), Charlie Morton, Hou, Jose Berrios, Min, Jake Odorizzi, Min, Lucas Giolito, CWS, Mike Minor, Tex, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Matthew Boyd, Det, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Shane Greene, Det, Ken Giles, Tor, Aroldis Chapman, NYY

YIKES!!!!!  THESE are the best American League pitchers this year???  For real??  Well, I guess Frankie Montas would have been too.  Damn PEDs!!

The list is so thin, that despite starting the year so putridly, and sitting at 3-7, we still considered Chris Sale (Bos) for the staff.  His ERA sits at 3.82.  But with some of his peripherals (148 Ks in 101.1 innings, 1.03 WHIP and .212 batting average against), he may actually have a shot at making the REAL team.  Hey, he has the track record.  And has started three consecutive All-Star games.  I am not ruling it out.

As for the staff I picked…Verlander is clearly going to start.  Morton is #2.  Cole’s and Bauer’s ERA are a little high, but hey, it’s the era I guess.  Minor, Odorizzi and Giolito?  Sigh…Boyd was going to be my Tiger rep until I realized I couldn’t leave Greene and his 0.90 ERA off.  Giles has always been shaky, but he has a 1.33 ERA and is the only player I remotely considered from Toronto (my sincere apologies Eric Sogard and I guess Marcus Stroman).  Brad Hand (Cle) and Roberto Osuna (Hou)?  Perhaps.  But these are my picks.  As hard as it is to believe…

Next:  The 2019 National League All-Stars…

Time for some hardware…

…now that the Major League Baseball regular season has concluded.  Let’s get right to it, starting here with the American League:

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Mookie Betts, Boston
  2. Mike Trout, LA Angels
  3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
  4. David Ortiz, Boston
  5. Adrian Beltre, Texas
  6. Josh Donaldson, Toronto
  7. Jose Altuve, Houston
  8. Manny Machado, Baltimore
  9. Robinson Cano, Seattle
  10. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto

10 guys seems a little steep here, but that’s what the official ballot holds.  So I only do what I’m told.  Anyway, these ten all had pretty good years, how do you decide?  I just went with the guy from the home team.  Ok, that’s not exactly true.  The way I see it, the award probably comes down to Betts or Trout.  Trout is probably still the best player in the league, probably in the majors.  But his team was awful.  I have trouble giving MVP awards to guys on bad teams.  I know that many feel differently, simply because how can one guy make a team playoff caliber essentially by himself?  Fair enough point, but it’s my ballot, so that’s what I’m going with.

Trout’s OPS was almost 100 points higher than Betts’ and if you believe in sabermetric stats like WAR, then you would see Trout was better than Mookie there as well.  Both are good defensive players.  Betts had about 40 more hits, but Trout had about 70 more walks.  Many of their other statistics were similar.  Betts had a deeper lineup of course.  Trout power dropped from 2015 and he walked more this year, likely because of what was around him.  If you choose Trout, I won’t hold it against you.  I just went with the guy on the playoff team.

So as you can see, other than Trout, all of the players listed are from playoff or near playoff teams.  Though I am not sure there were many other legitimate candidates.  Brian Dozier?  Nah.  Khris Davis?  Ummmm…

I would’ve loved to have given this to Big Papi, being that it is his last year and I am a homer.  But I have to say not playing the field has to hurt him a bit.  I am not opposed to giving DH’s the award, but a DH would have to be clearly separated from the pack for me to do so.  Kind of like when Ortiz finished 2nd in the voting in 2005 to Alex Rodriguez.  That year, I would have given the MVP to Papi.  He had sick numbers, but also a slew of clutch hits that for me put him over the top.  Oh well.  As for this year, Papi falls behind Miggy here because Miggy had an insane 2nd half to help keep his team in the mix.  And he played the field all year.  If you wanted to flip-flop them, I wouldn’t argue there either.

5-8 is probably the next tier.  Beltre finished strong, Altuve and Machado did not and Donaldson was basically in between.  That explains that order.  Cano and Edwin seemed like solid choices for the last 2 spots.  But if you stuck Nelson Cruz or someone else in there, it doesn’t matter to me.  Even Dozier, if it makes you happy.

Pitchers?  I’m not opposed to it.  But it would have to be another case in which one would have to be extremely dominant.  I mean, how can you justify voting for a starting pitcher that pitches maybe 35 games over an everyday player that plays over 150?  Or a closer that pitches like 70 innings over that same everyday player?  I could, but only in extreme cases.  And none fit that bill this year.

Cy Young:

  1. Justin Verlander, Detroit
  2. Corey Kluber, Cleveland
  3. Rick Porcello, Boston
  4. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
  5. Zach Britton, Baltimore

In reality, Verlander is 1, Kluber is 1A and Porcello is 1B.  It was that close.  Then Sale is a distant 4th.  As far as pure numbers, Verlander made more starts, pitched more innings, had way more strikeouts and had the better WHIP and ERA than both Kluber and Porcello.  He also gave up only 4 unearned runs this year, where the other two gave up 7 apiece.  Hey, that counts.  Again, sabermetrics tells us that Verlander was better there too (6.6 WAR to 6.5 for Kluber and 5.0 for Porcello).  Verlander “only” won 16, compared to Kluber’s 18 and Porcello’s major league leading 22.  But what sealed it for me was Verlander’s 2nd half 8-3, 1.96, .180 batting average against, which topped the 2nd halves of the other two by a decent amount (Kluber, 9-1, 2.52, .215; Porcello, 11-2, 2.62, .203).  More importantly, Justin got only 3.97 runs a game for support.  Kluber got 5.16 and Porcello 6.61.  Seems like he was working with less margin for error.

Sale went 3-7 in the second half, but his ERA was actually better (3.28 to 3.38 in the first half).  His innings, WHIP, K’s and everything else were much better than the remaining candidates, so he was an easy pick for 4th.  I don’t love taking relievers.  But Britton had an ERA well under one and didn’t blow any of his 47 save chances.  So there is something to be said for that.  In reality, Andrew Miller probably had a more dominant year.  But he wasn’t asked to close many games, so I have to give Britton the nod here.

Aaron Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka, Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana and JA Happ with his 20 wins will get some love.  I saw them a step or more below all of the above however.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Michael Fulmer, Detroit
  2. Nomar Mazara, Texas
  3. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

Fulmer runs away with this one.  He was 3 innings shy of qualifying for the ERA title, where he was leading for a stretch and would have finished third at 3.06, behind Sanchez at 3.00 and Verlander at 3.04.  Mazara was one of only two rookies who had enough plate appearances to qualify for a full season (Cheslor Cuthbert being the other).  Mazara started strong and cooled off a bit, but seemed like the best bet for 2nd.  Only 53 games and 201 at-bats for Sanchez and he gets 3rd?  Yup.  20 homers in those 53 games.  Among an otherwise quite barren Yankee lineup.  Good enough for me.  Cuthbert?  Nope.  Tim Anderson?  A shortstop, so maybe.  Max Kepler?  Meh.  Tyler Naquin or Ryon Healy?  Not today.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Terry Francona, Cleveland
  2. Scott Servais, Seattle
  3. Buck Showalter, Baltimore

TIIIITTTTOOOOO!!!  Yup.  Love Tito, but not being nostalgic here at all.  The Indians improved 13 wins from 2015, though their best player, Michael Brantley, totaled a mere 43 plate appearances during the 2016 season.  The lineup is clearly improved from 2015, but other than Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana, the rest of them are probably really platoon players on good teams.  Sure, Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez had pretty good years out of nowhere.  But they also gave almost 250 plate appearances to an old and fat Jose Uribe.  Yan Gomes hit a solid .167 in about the same amount of chances.  The pitching is of course the strength, bullpen with Cody Allen and a dominant 2 months from Andrew Miller leading that charge.  The rotation was solid, with Kluber in the Cy mix as noted above.  But behind him, Carlos Carrasco battled injuries and after Danny Salazar had an All-Star start, he had his problem with injuries as well.  Some challenges there that Tito had to navigate as well.

Servais took over the Mariners this year and led them to 10 more wins.  It helped that Cano had a rebound year.  And Cruz is Cruz.  Kyle Seager is pretty good.  Not much else to write home about in that lineup.  As for the staff, Felix Hernandez made only 25 seemingly “un-King Felix” like starts.  Hisashi Iwakuma won 16, but with an ERA over 4.  Tijuan Walker never took that “next step”.  And after Steve Cishek became shaky at closer, they went to a young Edwin Diaz, who got the saves, but whose ERA did spike as well.  I’m not sure how Seattle improved so much actually.  Side note:  JA Happ went 4-6, 4.64 and Mark Trumbo hit 13 homers in 96 games for the 2015 Mariners.  Then Happ won 20 for the Jays and Trumbo hit 47 bombs for the O’s in 2016.  What?

Buck won 8 more games this year than last, with a lineup that seemingly only hit homers or struck out and a putrid rotation.  That’s good enough for 3rd for me.  And it doesn’t count him not pitching Britton in the wild card playoff game, which was inexcusable in my eyes.  People may ask, “where is John Farrell”?  After all, the Sox won 15 more games than 2015.  Farrell may well win the award in real life.  But when I spent all year trying to get him fired, I couldn’t put him in my top three.  They really should’ve won 5-10 more, but Farrell held them back.  I still believe that and still wouldn’t mind not seeing him back next year.  But I’ve beaten that like a dead horse.  I’d love to give Joe Girardi a vote.  I hate the guy and I hate the Yankees.  Another secret, I know.  But how he has kept that team in the playoff race until the last week or so the last few years, I have no idea.  Old team, half the pitching staff I’ve never heard of, his 2 best relievers were traded at the deadline this year, A-Rod circus, etc.  But they lost 3 wins from 2015, so it would be hard to justify a vote for him all that being said.  Texas won 7 more games for Jeff Banister this year, but he won the award last year and…that team is pretty good anyway.

Next:  The National League

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