Your 2011 All-Star Ballot

Each year, I take a little time to help you fill out your MLB All-Star voting ballot. (Because I’m just helpful like that. I figure if I do this long enough, maybe I can get an MLB press pass and, eventually, garner a Hall of Fame vote.) This year, of course, is no different. I love the MLB All-Star game. It’s a fun little reprieve in the middle of a grueling season that lets us reflect on the season thus far. It’s the perfect mid-summer Classic.

This year, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach. I’m going to give you the best player to vote for (per usual) but I’m also going to give you a runner-up option to vote for to insure that the best, most deserving players have their names called on July 12.

Catcher

Had Buster Posey not gone done with a season-ending injury last month, this might’ve been a good race in the NL. As it stands, Brian McCann is the clear choice in the Senior Circuit. But don’t sleep on Arizona’s Miguel Montero. He’s quietly putting together a solid season and the hometown fans should expect him to don the tools of ignorance mid-game. In the American League, Detroit’s Alex Avila should have your vote. I know there’s no chance he beats out Joe Mauer here, but that’s really a shame considering Mauer has only played a handful of games and Avila has been raking all year. There’s really no other AL catcher worth voting for. Cleveland’s Carlos Santana and Seattle’s Miguel Olivo are next in line, but each of them are hitting in the .230s.

First base

Don’t even get me started about Pujols’ injury. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to tell my son he’s hurt. But the NL has a couple of worthy heirs to the throne, starting with Prince Fielder. Actually, Fielder deserves your vote, Pujols injury or no. Ryan Howard has also put up a nice half season with impressive power number. The AL’s first-sackers are even more impressive. I don’t think anybody has been hotter than Adrian Gonzalez the last three weeks. He deserves the start, but Paul Konerko has been nearly as hot lately and I hope he is Gonzo’s backup. He and Teixeira have similar power numbers, but Konerko has the edge in average by a wide margin.

Second base

We really need to start appreciating the greatness of Robby Cano. He just plays the game the right way. Check out his numbers and you’ll see what I mean. I’m sure Pedroia will get a ton of votes, but my runner-up selection is Tampa’s Ben Zobrist. For a team plagued by injury all season, Zobrist has been the one constant for Joe Maddon. I really hope he makes the team. In the NL, Chase Utley’s injury should clear the way for a new contender. I like Rickie Weeks. Not only is he a former Huntsville Star, he’s also playing some great baseball building on last season’s breakout. I also like Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker. The average is ugly, but the guy has 50 RBI in a truly pathetic lineup. He deserves to be a reserve.

Third base

It’s really a shame that you have to vote for any of the NL 3B. (To wit, Chase Headley leads this group in runs scored. Yuck.) Injuries to Ryan Zimmerman and David Wright make this slim pickings. Because of this, I’m voting for the ageless Chipper Jones. Not only is this a “career” vote, Chipper actually has the best numbers of the group. You could also make a case for Philly’s Placido Polanco, mainly because he’s stayed healthy enough to put up decent numbers. In the AL, I didn’t realize how good Alex Rodriguez had been this season until I compared the numbers. He’s quietly having another solid campaign. For the backup spot, it’s really between Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre. I give Youk my vote, but barely.

Shortstop

Did anybody see this coming from Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera? The kid has been a revelation, posting career numbers in several categories already. And the other shortstops in the league have been pretty solid, too. Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy and Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta are journeymen who are really toting the lumber this year. I’m giving Peralta the slight edge, but I really hope Hardy makes the team, too. In the NL, this is Jose Reyes‘s world. We’re all just living in it. Troy Tulowitzki is the clear #2.

Outfield

Three clear starters in both leagues in my opinion: Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury in the AL; Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman for the NL. I really expected Bautista to regress, but he’s been money for Toronto. This will probably go down as Granderson’s career year and he deserves to be recognized for it. And it’s been nice to see Ellsbury reassert himself as a force atop the Boston lineup. The NL has a nice power / speed pair in Kemp and Braun; they might fight it out for MVP honors all summer long. Berkman’s renaissance has kept the Cards afloat through injuries to Pujols and Holliday. I’m afraid he’s going to have to keep it up a bit longer, though. As for the backups, Jay Bruce deserves consideration for Cincy. I also like Hunter Pence, a lock to be Houston’s lone representative. You could go several different directions with the final NL slot; I’m going with my boy Matt Holliday. In the AL, I like another Matt, Tampa’s Matt Joyce. I could also make a case for Nelson Cruz and Michael Cuddyer. In a Minnesota lineup crippled by injuries, Cuddyer has really been steady. Hope he makes the team.

By my calculations, the starting lineups would look like this:

American League

CF Ellsbury

LF Granderson

RF Bautista

1B Gonzalez

3B Rodriguez

2B Cano

SS Cabrera

C Avila

SP Weaver

National League

SS Reyes

3B Jones

LF Braun

1B Fielder

CF Kemp

RF Berkman

C McCann

2B Weeks

SP Halladay

I think the NL has a pretty good chance of repeating with that lineup. Your thoughts?

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