Every year I cast my virtual ballot (or ballots, since we can vote more than once) for the All-Star Game. Voting has come a long way since the days when you had to go to a ballpark to get a paper ballot- now you can vote online up to twenty times per email address at http://www.mlb.com/ (last year I voted sixty times; this year I don't know that I'll have the time for that!). One feature I like in this year's online ballot is that when you click on a player, his stats show up (batting average, home runs, and RBI). That helped with my decision-making, but unfortunately, not everyone is going to vote for the player who actually deserves to be there. For many, it is a popularity contest, which is the biggest complaint from baseball die-hards like me. I don't want to see a player representing his team in the All-Star Game just because he's cute or just because he USED to be good (although I don't mind looking at the cute ones!). Sometimes fans vote for players who are or have been on the disabled list, and they end up winning even though they can't play (if Chase Utley wins for second base, I'm going to scream. You see, he's been a great player in years past, but he has not played in a single game this year due to a knee injury). So here is my list of the players I voted for this year, with the reasons why I voted for them and whether or not I think they're actually going to be in the starting lineup at this year's All-Star Game:
1B - Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers) got my vote because of his 7 home runs and 24 RBI. I did not want to vote for Teixeira, though he will probably be the starter at first base.
2B - Robinson Canó (NY Yankees) is the best second-baseman out there, so why not vote for a Yankee? My hatred for the Yankees is shifting to the Phillies; I actually voted for TWO Yanks this year!
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland Indians) won't be the starter (Derek Jeter will be), but he got my vote because he has a batting average of .270 (better than Jeter's) and because he has a cool first name. Plus, that's two "Cabreras" in the same ballot. I know; not as important as the stats, but I'm being honest!
3B - Maicer Izturis (Los Angeles Angels) got my vote because I did NOT want to vote for A-Rod. I've seen Izturis play a few times, and he's just fine. He's batting .330 with 2 HR and 11 RBI, so I think I picked a respectable guy. A-Rod will undoubtedly get the job though. Whatever.
Catcher - Russell Martin (NY Yankees) already has 20 RBI, so he gets my vote. Plus the fact that there aren't any Puerto Rican starting catchers in the American League ballot. He will probably get the most votes for AL catcher.
DH - This was a tough one! I wanted to vote for Jorge Posada, but his batting average is not all that. Then I wanted to vote for Adam Dunn, because he used to be a National and I liked him back then, but his average is a crappy .180! So my vote for Designated Hitter went to Vladimir Guerrero (Baltimore Orioles). Everybody loves Vladi, and his .267 average, 4 HR and 13 RBI are respectable. Hopefully he'll get the start.
Outfield (choose 3) - Melky Cabrera (Kansas City Royals), Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles), and Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners). I have voted for Ichiro every year in every ballot since I can remember. His arm is amazing, and he's just one of those all-around good guys. Cabrera got my vote because I needed a third "Cabrera" (and because he deserves to be an all-star), and Adam Jones, well, he's the sentimental favorite.
1B - Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds) got my vote because I was not going to vote for Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard (though I'm sure Pujols will get to start). Votto has a .333 batting average, and his name is fun to say in a "New York Italian 'how you doin'" kind of way).
2B - Rickie Weeks (Milwaukee Brewers) has been with the Brew Crew his whole career and deserves to be an all-star with his 7 HR and solid defense.
SS - Ryan Theriot (St. Louis Cardinals) is batting .287. I could have voted for the Nationals' Ian Desmond, whose offense is pretty solid, but he is such a lousy shortstop that I would have been embarrassed to see him play in that position at an All-Star Game.
3B - Placido Polanco (Philadelphia Phillies) is my pick for third base. Yes, I voted for a Philly; but Ryan Zimmerman is on the Disabled List, David Wright is not playing that well this year, and Chipper Jones, sigh!, is just not as good as Polanco anymore. Polanco does not get the attention he deserves (since he is teammates with Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and others), and if he's not named to the all-star team, I am gong to boycott the game. Yes, I've done this before; spent the night of the All-Star Game watching something else on TV. I did it one year when Nolan Ryan was not named to the all-star team, and one year when Kirby Puckett was left out. This year, no Polanco, no game for me!
Catcher - Iván Rodriguez (Washington Nationals) is the only player I voted for who doesn't really deserve to be there this year. He's only batting .210, though his at-bats are very productive since he has 10 RBI. But he doesn't play every day, and there are other catchers out there who are playing better (I think Yadier Molina will get the start, or maybe Buster Posey); but I had to vote for one Nationals player, and "Pudge" was it.
Outfield - Carlos Beltrán (NY Mets), Matt Holliday (St. Louis Cardinals), and Justin Upton (Arizona Cardinals) all got my vote. Beltrán has surprised everyone this year with a .289 batting average, 5 HR and 18 RBI. He didn't know if he would have a job this year, and has proven that he can still hit. Holliday has been on a tear since his appendix tore earlier this year, batting .398, and I voted for Upton because he's batting .260 with 7 HR and 18 RBI.
So that's my lineup for this year's All-Star Game. I've always been disappointed that fans can't vote for pitchers, but I'm hoping that the coaches and managers make good choices there (speaking of managers, Bruce Bochy, who will manage the Natinal League all-star team, has chosen Nationals' manager, Jim Riggleman, as his bench coach for the game. Pretty cool! Although I must admit, I never understood what a bench coach really did other than sit at the bench). It should be a good game this year; let's hope the National League wins it!
By the way, last night the Nationals beat the Braves and pitcher Jason Marquis got his 100th career win. The Marlins beat the Phillies and Roy Halliday (yeay!), and the Indians won their 14th game in a row. If only my son's Little League team had done as well last night...