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More All-Star Outrage

The Insider AL Roster††††††††

By Adam Hoff

About a month ago we took an early look at who deserved a spot on the All-Star rosters.† Now that weíre closer to the game itself and the rosters are nearly finalized, letís take another look. †Here are the deserving players as of June 30, based on a healthy combination of common sense and fantasy baseball perspective.† Iím ignoring the fan voting and piecing together the best roster possible but I will adhere to the ďAll 30 teams must be representedĒ rule.† Even though it sucks.

American League ďInsiderĒ All-Star Ballot.

Catcher

Fan voted starter: Ivan Rodriguez.†

My starter: Rodriguez.

Selected reserves: Victor Martinez.

My reserves:† Martinez.

Apologies to: Jorge Posada and Javy Lopez.

Comments: Itís hard to argue with the fan vote here.† Pudge is leading the majors in hitting at .373, has a terrific .975 OPS to go with 10 home runs, 7 stolen bases, 57 RBI, and has completely changed the attitude of the Detroit Tigers.† Heís been amazing.† Good thinking by the Mariners not to sign him.† Indians rookie Victor Martinez beats out Posada (.413 OBP) and Javy Lopez (.321 average) on the strength of his 12 home runs and 61 RBI.†

First Base

Fan voted starter: Jason Giambi.†

My starter: David Ortiz.

Selected reserves: Ortiz and Ken Harvey.

My reserves:† Harvey and Frank Thomas.

Apologies to: Travis Hafner.

Comments: Come on fans Ö Giambi?† Heís hitting .245 with 11 home runs.† Give me a break.† David Ortiz on the other hand is hitting .306 with a .968 OPS, 22 home runs (3rd in the majors), .609 slugging percentage (6th), and 76 RBI (2nd).† At least Torre put him on the team.† Ken Harvey is the token Royal and he just drills poor Frank Thomas.† Despite the fact that Thomas has 8 more home runs, 15 more RBI, and an OPS almost 200 points higher, Harvey gets the nod because of the stupid representation rule.† The Big Hurt makes my team, so I hope thatís some consolation for him.† But I bet heís thinking: ďIf only KC could have waited to trade Beltran ÖĒ

Second Base

Fan voted starter: Alfonso Soriano.†

My starter: Soriano.

Selected reserves: Ronnie Belliard.

My reserves: Juan Uribe.

Apologies to: Nobody.

Comments: Soriano is heating up and deserves his starting spot.† Heís up to 15 home runs, 8 stolen bases, and 52 RBI to go with his .292 average.† Plus, heís an integral part of this amazing Texas Rangers season.† As for the reserve spot, Joe Torre got this one wrong.† He picked a former Colorado Rockies player that has emerged in the American League, which was the right thing to do.† The problem is, he picked the wrong guy.† Juan Uribe has more runs, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases, and a higher OPS than Belliard.† The only thing the Indiansí second basemen has the edge in is batting average.† Iím at a loss on this one.

Third Base

Fan voted starter: Alex Rodriguez.†

My starter: A-Rod.

Selected reserves:† Hank Blalock.

My reserves:† Blalock and Melvin Mora.

Apologies to: Chone Figgins.

Comments: The Blalock versus A-Rod showdown is one of the best positional battles out there, but Iíll stick with the fansí choice and take Rodriguez as my starter.† Itís close though.† Blalock gets the better of A-Rod in home runs (22 to 20), RBI (63 to 53), batting average (.314 to .277), and OPS (.969 to .890).† From the looks of those numbers, Blalock is a pretty good choice.† However, I give the nod to A-Rod on the strength of his 18 stolen bases (to Blalockís 0) and the fact that heís anchoring the Yankees lineup.† You could almost flip a coin though.† I have big bone to pick with Torre about leaving Mora off the team.† How is this happening?† Is there something about third basemen that I donít know?† Before going on the DL, Mora was up to .347 (2nd in the AL) with 60 runs (3rd), 12 home runs, 7 stolen bases, and a .989 OPS (4th).† Thatís not an All-Star?† Come on, Joe. †

Shortstop

Fan voted starter: Derek Jeter.†

My starter: Michael Young.

Selected reserves: Jeter, Miguel Tejada, and Carlos Guillen.

Apologies to: Jose Valentin.

Comments: The position is stacked this year.† Iím glad Jeter has come on strong to validate being the starter, but his poor start keeps him on the bench on my team, face plants be damned.† Choosing a starter from the other three guys is next to impossible.† There numbers are eerily similar.† They are separated by a total of seven places in the Yahoo fantasy rankings and by five spots in the ESPN player rater.† Young has the edge in runs by 2 over Guillen (61 to 59) with Tejada trailing a ways back.† Tejada has the power numbers (15 HR to 11 for both Young and Guillen and 71 RBI to 57 for Guillen and 49 for Young).† Young has the batting average (.332 to .324 and .318 for Guillen and Tejada, respectively) and the stolen bases.† Guillen has the OPS (.943).† I donít know!† In the end, Iím going with Young because heís the leadoff hitter for a division leader and because heís made the biggest adjustment to the position.† Hats off to Tejada and Guillen though for switching teams, manning spots in the middle of the order, and playing the toughest position in the infield.† By the way, good job by the Mariners to let Guillen go.† Thatís two Tiger All-Stars that should be in Seattle.† I wonder why theyíre in last place.

(And just for the record, Valentin would be a shoo-in on the NL side with his 17 home runs and .900 OPS.)

Outfield

Fan voted starters: Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Ichiro Suzuki.†

My starters: Guerrero, Ramirez, and Carl Crawford.

Selected reserves: Matt Lawton, Gary Sheffield, Carl Crawford, and Carlos Beltran.

My reserves:† Lawton, Ichiro, and Sheffield

Apologies to: Jermaine Dye.

Comments: I really donít have any complaints here other than ďlet him play!Ē for Beltran.† Heís technically being honored as a reserve here in the AL, but Iíve got him as an active participant on my NL team.† My only switch is that I put Crawford in the starting lineup over Ichiro.† The reason?† Not only does that group need a centerfielder, but heís been basically out-Ichiro-ing Ichiro.† Crawford has more runs, a higher OPS, an extra home run, more RBIís, and more stolen bases (38 to 20) than Ichiro, trailing the Mariners star only in the batting average column (.318 to .308).† Plus, heís been one of the driving forces behind the D-Raysí resurgence.†

Most of the outfield studs are in the NL as Sheffield makes the squad despite what was basically a first half slump by his standards (.300/.900/14/54 compared with .327/1.019/22/70/12 stolen bases through the first half last year).† Lawton is the only other AL outfielder that commands a spot on the roster as heís put up remarkable numbers (.312 with 14 HR and 15 SB) in a resurgence year eerily reminiscent to that of Pedro Serrano, former Indians slugger in ďMajor LeagueĒ making a comeback with ď24Ē and all those new All State commercials.†

The big guns in this group are the two uncontested starters, Vlad Guerrero and Manny Ramirez.† These guys have been incredible and appear headed for a showdown with Blalock for MVP honors.† The first half honors have to go to Guerrero who currently ranks second in the AL in each of the Triple Crown categories.† Heís hitting .347 with 22 home runs, 71 RBI, 7 stolen bases (in 7 tries), 69 runs scored (second in the majors), and a 1.004 OPS.† Plus heís playing a stellar outfield, which is more than Manny can say.† But what Ramirez lacks in glove work and, um, concentration, he more than makes up for with his offensive production.† Heís hitting .340 with a 1.092 OPS (first in the AL), 22 HR, and 65 RBI.† Whew.†

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Starting Pitchers

Likely Torre pick for starter: Mark Mulder.

Gets my starting nod: Curt Schilling.

Other selected starters: Schilling, Tim Hudson, Kenny Rogers, Ted Lilly, Esteban Loiaza, and C.C. Sabathia.

My starters: Mulder, Pedro Martinez, Hudson, Johan Santana, Rogers, Javy Vazquez, and Lilly.

Apologies to:† Tim Hudson (and therefore) Jake Westbrook

Comments: First, letís address the issue of who gets the ball to start the game.† The prevailing theory seems to be that Mulder is the leading contender for the Cy Young and that he should be the ALís starting pitcher.† I disagree.† (I know, surprise, surprise.)† Curt Schilling has better numbers: same number of wins (11), lower WHIP (1.13 compared to Mulderís 1.16), better K/BB ratio (5.24 to 2.18), and more strikeouts (110 to 83).† Mulder has five more innings pitched and an ERA that is .13 lower.† Plus, Schilling has been carrying an entire pitching staff and hurling on a bad ankle.† Case closed.†

Once you get past Mulder and Schill, you get a whole lot of pitchers with at least one flaw.† Pedro got left off the team in favor of Loiaza; something I intend to rectify.† While he hasnít been the Pedro of old, heís still the third best pitcher in the league, statistically speaking.† 8 wins, a 1.15 WHIP, and 105 Kís in 110 innings.† Other than the aforementioned Big Two, no other AL pitchers can boast those numbers.† Sabathia joins Loaiza in the ďkicked to the curbĒ category.† Why?† His 3.23 ERA is solid, but his five wins, 1.23 WHIP, and pathetic 1.97 K/BB ratio are not.† Iím rounding out my staff with Kenny Rogers (merely average numbers, but 12 wins for a first place team), Hudson (barely: his 2.98 ERA is nice but where are the strikeouts?† 52 in 108 innings?† Heís basically a big name version of Jake Westbrook), Vazquez (1.13 WHIP is tied with Schilling for best in the American League), and Lilly (heís on the Blue Jays).†

The hardest guy to leave off was Johan Santana.† The Twins ace got off to an awful start this year but has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past month.† Check out his numbers over the past five starts: 38 IP, 53 Kís (Gagne numbers), 5-0, 1.72 ERA, .63 WHIP.† Amazing.† Even with the awful start, heís got his WHIP down to 1.15 (third in the AL) and heís leading the league with 112 strikeouts.† On second thought, heís taking Hudsonís place.† Sorry, Aís fans.† Youíll see this change reflected above.†

Relief Pitchers

Selected relievers: Mariano Rivera, Tom Gordon, Francisco Cordero, Joe Nathan, and Francisco Rodriguez.

My picks: Rivera, Eddie Guardado, Cordero, Nathan, and Rodriguez.

Apologies to:† Keith Foulke and Tom Gordon. †

Comments: Iíve got no real complaints here with the exception of Gordon being on the team over Eddie Guardado.† Gordon has been great as a setup man (1.66 ERA, .84 WHIP, and almost a K per inning) but Guardado has even better numbers as a closer (1.19 ERA, .80 WHIP, better than a K per inning).† Sure heís toiling on a last place team, but give the guy a break.† Itís classic Joe Torre to put one of his own guys on the team when itís a close call.† The other arms coming out of the pen are pretty easy to pick.† Rivera (.86 ERA and 29 saves), Cordero (1.75 ERA and 25 saves), Nathan (1.19 ERA, 23 saves in 24 chances, and 44 Kís in 37 innings), and K-Rod (1.04 ERA, .90 WHIP, 68 Kís in 43 innings, and the stupidest nickname in all of sports) are all studs.† The only guys getting shafted on my roster are Gordon and Keith Foulke (1.28/.90 but not enough save chances).

In the AL I found myself disagreeing quite a bit with Joe Torre and the fan and player votes.† My teamís got no Hudson, Loaiza, Sabathia, or Gordon on the pitching staff and Iím booting Giambi and Belliard on offense.† In their places go Pedro, Santana, Vazquez, Guardado, Mora, and Frank Thomas.†

Better luck next year, Joe.†

Adam Hoff is a columnist for WhatifSports.com and can be reached at adam.hoff@pepperdine.edu or by sitemail at adamo112.†

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