1B: Justin Morneau. Youkilis currently leads in the voting but he doesn’t quite approach Morneau or Teixeira in power and run production. Miguel Cabrera’s .330+ batting average puts him in the discussion but the other three are much more complete players while Cabrera is really just a hitter. There’s some temptation to attempt a case for Teix on the grounds that Morneau has been slumping in the past month but Teix’ production seems ultimately tied to ARod and how well he’s producing behind him, so I’ll stick with the clearer choice.
2B: Very tough decision. I think Aaron Hill edges Ian Kinsler. Very similar power production and both are excellent defensive players. But I think Hill’s superior batting average (.301 to .263) trumps Kinsler’s 16 – 3 advantage in steals. Kinsler is currently just edging out reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia (who might not even belong in the top 5) followed up by Cano and Hill in a distant 5th place. Notable mention to write-in candidate Tampa utility player Ben Zobrist who has started 32 games at 2B (more than any other position for him) and has put together a stat line comparable to Kinsler and Hill.
SS: Jason Bartlett has been absolutely raking since early April and shows no signs of slowing down. From a Yankee fan perspective it’s terrific to see Jeter leading all American League players in votes, assuring his 10th All Star game. But Bartlet, in distant second in the SS voting (with fewer than half of Jeter’s votes) is the more deserving player. Fortunately, Bartlett is a lock to be selected for the bench by Tampa manager Joe Madden.
3B: Evan Longoria. Nice to see the fans getting one right. Interesting question on whether ARod deserves second-place honors here. Obviously his production this season doesn’t warrant any consideration, but he is Alex Rodriguez and he appears to now be playing very near the level we expect of him.
C: Joe Mauer. Another strong fan consensus for the correct selection. Mauer is third in AL votes at any position after Jeter and Longoria. Kind of annoying to see Varitek and his .234 batting average in second place, especiallu with such strong seasons so far from Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli.
OF: Carl Crawford and Torii Hunter are the easy choices for the first two OF slots. Ichiro Suzuki beats out the rest of the pack, notably Nelson Cruz, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Jason Bay (the current AL RBI leader and leader in voting among American League OF).
1B: Albert Pujols leads all MLB players in All Star votes – and deservedly so. Prince Fielder has been pretty awesome this year, but there’s no comparison.
2B: Chase Utley is second among all MLB players in All Star votes. Head and shoulders above his competition in the National League.
SS: Hanley Ramirez is another easy choice for the fans. Rollins, Reyes and Furcal just aren’t getting it done this year. So far, National League fans seem to have much easier selections.
3B: And I can also go along with the fans’ choice of David Wright. With batting average and steals both near the top of the league, I can forgive his dearth of home run power this year and mediocre defensive play. Helping him is that his best competition is Mark Reynolds, who’s defensive play could be flatteringly described as “clunky”.
C: With no clear standout, I’ll go with Brian McCann over the fans’ choice of defensive stud Yadier Molina. Not a very exiting group to select from.
OF: The NL fans get it right here as well with their selections of Raul Ibanez, Ryan Braun and Carlos Beltran. However, Beltran’s injury will keep him out of action through the All Star Game. So my vote for the third NL outfielder goes to Justin Upton, with respectful nods to Brad Hawpe and Michael Bourn.
Feels kind of strange not voting for any Yankees, but in my best effort to be as objective as possible, this is what I come up with. If fans voted on pitchers I’m sure I’d vote for Mariano Rivera and perhaps I could make a case for CC Sabathia. It’s interesting to note that (this year, anyway) the American League is much more of a popularity contest with players like Youkilis, Jeter, Varitek, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Hamilton amassing vote totals far beyond what their production should warrant. Some might argue that the National League simply has fewer stellar players to choose from. Whatever the case, the National League voting far better reflects the best of the league at the mid-point of the 2009 season. Whether this will translate into better than recent success for the senior circuit remains to be seen.