You cannot be a baseball writer this time of year without producing your own All Star ballot. Everyone has a different philosophy for putting them together. Some believe in picking the hottest players of the current year. Others like to consider the body of work and the current season. I am more of the former than the latter. I think it is a showcase for this year’s hottest talent. On the other hand, I do think legacy players on the downside of probable Hall of Fame careers should be included for the fans as well. I grew up with that with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron making the NL squads even into their last years.
The only real legacy player this year is Mariano Rivera and he deserves a nod on merit anyway, so there is no problem. Chipper Jones was a legacy player. Derek Jeter is one. But the rest are all gone. So at least we do not have to have that debate.
So here, then, is my All Star ballot with the starters for each position and one backup. Oh yes, I should mention that the outfield positions should be picked by where a player plays and not just lumped all together.
- First base: Chris Davis. How can you not pick him? He has been a monster. My backup would be Edwin Encarnacion.
- Second base: Jason Kipnis. I tend to go more by wOBA than by WAR and Kipnis leads all AL second basemen in wOBA at .390. But this is a deep field. You have to have Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano too and cases can be made for Howie Kendrick, Omar Infante and Jed Lowrie.
- Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta. I do not think his success will last when he has a .388 BABIP. But right now, the nod is his. I cannot pick Lowrie as a backup because he has split his time between second and short. So the backup is J.J. Hardy.
- Third base: Miguel Cabrera. The easy pick with Manny Machado as the backup.
- Left field: Mike Trout. Yeah, this should be the same problem as Lowrie. I hear you. But Trout plays both left and center, so you have to pick one because he has to be on the team. Alex Gordon is the backup.
- Center field: Jacoby Ellsbury. With Trout in left, that opens the door for Ellsbury, who only has one homer, but has done everything else extremely well. Brett Gardner is your backup.
- Right field: Jose Bautista. Bautista has not seemed to have a good year. But he leads all AL right fielders in wOBA and fWAR. Ben Zobrist is the backup although he plays all over the place.
- Catcher: Joe Mauer. This is a no-brain pick. If you think otherwise, you and I will never agree. For the backup, I am going with Carlos Santana slightly ahead of Jason Castro. Castro is a better receiver, Santana a better offensive force.
- DH: David Ortiz.
- Starting pitchers: Max Scherzer (start), Derek Holland, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.
- Releif pitchers: Jesse Crain, Drew Smyly, Glen Perkins, Ryan Cook and Mariano Rivera.
- First base: Joey Votto with the backup of Paul Goldschmidt. These two are neck and neck with Votto having the higher wOBA.
- Second base: Matt Carpenter. He has the highest wOBA and fWAR. Brandon Phillips as the backup.
- Shortstop: Jean Segura with Everth Cabrera as the backup.
- Third base: David Wright with no backup. Take them apples. The game is at Citi Field and he should play.
- Left field: Carlos Gonzalez is the starter. Starling Marte is the backup.
- Center field: Carlos Gomez is the starter. Andrew McCutchen is the backup. A case could be made for Choo, but the fielding (not his fault) is so bad.
- Right field: Carlos Beltran and Jay Bruce as the backup. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Michael Cuddyer.
- Catcher: Buster Posey just over Yadier Molina. Both are neck and neck in WAR. Posey has a slight edge in wOBA. Molina has the edge on defense. Neither way would bother me.
- DH: Michael Cuddyer. There you go.
- Starting pitchers: Matt Harvey (starter), Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Jordan Zimmermann and Homer Bailey.
- Relief pitchers: Jason Grilli, Mark Malancon, Bobby Parnell, Trevor Rosenthal and Craig Kimbrel.
Let the debates begin. And no on Puig this year.