but me? i LOVE the All Star game. i like voting. i like asking in the second week of April, "do you think so-and-so will be an all star this year?" i like watching the home run derby. and while people use to complain that the Game didn't mean anything, they complained even more when Bud changed the rules with the whole World Series home field advantage thingy. as a Sox fan though, you have to like what Papi and Manny did in the '04 Midsummer classic (the home field advantage-nullifying four game sweep of the Cards notwithstanding).
so for the first time ever, i am pouring through the leader boards and picking out my own all stars. here are my rules:
1. forget about current balloting results. i know he's a "star," but Junior Griffey does NOT deserve to be on the all star team this year. also, Varitek shouldn't even be sniffing the Bronx come July 15th. some form of ballot control needs to be enacted to prevent these sorts of travesties. (remember when David Bell almost started at 3rd in 2001 because of all the Mariners-obsessed Japanese going crazy?) the best players at each position will start the game.
2. forget about past performance. this might skew balloting, but i think it also skews the players' peer selection and the managers' reserve selections.
3. same rules for team representation and roster size. some people say it's dumb that each team needs to be represented, and for the most part i agree. although if i were a Pirates or Royals fan, i'm sure i'd feel differently. also, each squad has 32 players, the 32nd being voted in on that whole "last player selected" ballot they have with the five choices (usually ends up being a Red Sox player). i'm just going to select them all myself because i feel like our 4 readers would introduce some sort of bias into any online voting.
4. traditional (read: not always informative) and sabermetric stats will be used to determine the best players. to a degree. yes, mike mussina has 10 wins, but he's not an all star. a healthy batting average could get you in, though. if you're leading your position in OPS, i think you belong in. a good FRAA probably scores you plenty of tail on the road, so it should also help your All Star credentials. (sorry, Hanley.)
so, without further adieu, i give you your 2008 American League (aka the little big league - ya know, only 14 teams?) All Star Team:
SP: Ervin Santana, LAA - a Santana starting the All Star game, but probably not the one you expected. 9-3 record, 3.32 ERA (9th) , 1.07 WHIP (3rd), 99 K's (2nd), and hitters are OPS'ing a measely .616 against him (4th). granted his BABIP is an unsustainably low .257 (teammate Joe Saunders' is .230!!!!) so he might come back to Earth a tad between now and then, but most of his stats, including his peripherals, indicate he has probably been the best starter in the AL this season. i think this is a toss-up between Santana and Cliff Lee, but honestly, I don't think Lee will be around for the Cy Young debate in September. I think Santana will be.
C: Joe Mauer, MIN - this is a tough crop to choose from. posada's been hurt (and wasn't going to repeat last season, anyway), Pudge has been off the juice for years now, and Kevin Cash just doesn't play often enough to garner the necessary attention. [sidenote - that was a joke.] (Amazingly, while doing the research for this, i discovered that Jason Varitek doesn't even qualify for the batting title based on AB's. not that he has a shot at it obviously, and in fact only 5 catchers in the AL qualify. i wonder if this is why a catcher winning the batting title is so rare?) anyway, Mauer is hitting a healthy .323 with a .407 OBP, so it's tough to complain despite his 2 dingers. plus he's got those boyish good looks.
1B: Kevin Youkilis, BOS - this is a toss up between Youk and Ron Jeriambi. But since the latter is a cheater, we'll give it to Youkilis. also in his favor: .913 OPS, 13 bombs, stellar defense, and (somehow) facial hair that is less ugly than the Giambino's. generally speaking, AL first baseman are a wholly underachieving lot this year.
2B: Ian Kinsler, TEX - there's not even competition here. he leads amongst second baseman in OPS and homers, is second in steals and doubles, and also leads the league in first name vowel:consonant ratio.
3B: alex rodriguez, NYY - he's not as overrated as everyone thinks. this is another category without competition.
SS: derek jeter, NYY - i actually wrote "just kidding!" after that originally, but scouring the other shortstops in the AL, i sadly announce that derek jeter deserves all the votes he is getting. bad defense and baserunning aside, there's really no one else having a good enough season to shove him out of the way.(if Jhohnnhyh Phehrhaltha wasn't OBP'ing .294, it'd be his spot.) o, Jed Lowrie, where art thee?
LF: Manny Ramirez, BOS - this is a very close call between Manny and Carlos Quentin of the White Sox, but given how i feel about each of these Sox teams, the answer wasn't so hard. Quentin actually edges out Manny in most every category, with the exception of "joints smoked in the green monster."
CF: Josh Hamilton, TEX - he probably isn't not the reason i'm running away with one of my fantasy teams. he's a triple crown candidate and a really, really good walking example of why to stick to booze and gambling, and to lay off the crack pipe.
RF: J.D. Drew, BOS - i'm not just playing homeboy here. i've loved Drew since, like, forever (ask anyone - i swear i wasn't booing every 4-6-3 GIDP last season...okay, maybe i booed the 2,359,864th one.) his OPS is almost 100 points higher than the second place dude, Jermaine Dye, plus Jesus loves him. (this i know, for the bible told me so.)
DH: Milton Bradley, TEX - honestly, i was just scared not to put him on this list. although he leads the league in OPS, so...
The other 22:
Pitchers: Cliff Lee-CLE, Felix Hernandez-SEA (lone Mariners rep), Joe Saunders-LAA, Jon Lester-BOS, Roy Halladay-TOR (lone Jays rep, although Shawn Marcum makes a compelling case and should be on the team if there are any injuries), Zack Greinke-KC, James Shields-TB, Francisco Rodriguez-LAA, mariano rivera-NYY, Joakim Soria-KC, Joe Nathan-MIN
C: A.J. Pierjerkski-CWS
1B: jason giambi-NYY
2B: Brian Roberts-BAL
SS: Jhonny Peralta-CLE, Bobby Crosby-OAK (lone A's rep)
OF: Carlos Quentin-CWS, Jermaine Dye-CWS, Magglio Ordonez-DET (lone Tigers rep), Grady Sizemore-CLE, Nick Markakis-BAL
if anyone gets hurt, i say put Brandow Morrow-SEA on the team. i know he's a middle reliever (well, temporary closer), but his numbers have been nasty.
i'm looking for comments, suggestions, disagreements, and endorsements. bring 'em on.