Best and Worst Choices As MLB All-Star Voting Ends

One of the great joys of summer as a kid sitting in a half-empty Veterans Stadium, where we rarely expected the home side to come out with a victory, was being allowed to have a pen – or sometimes even a set of keys – to punch out tens of hundreds of All-Star ballots. An RBI single or inning-ending double play? Sorry, home team, I'm root, root, rooting for you, but right now I'm stuck in a National League park trying to pick between Mark McGwire, Don Mattingly or George Brett for first base in the American League and it's pretty darn impossible to make an informed decision. ↵

↵Ah, how times have changed. In-stadium ballots are just a fraction of the number of votes cast for players in the All-Star game, and those debates in the bleachers over players you only ever got to see in the All-Star Game or World Series have turned into a simple web search for stats or video highlights for the millions of fans around the world voting through their mobile phones or computers. Well, that online voting ends at midnight tonight and ↵there are still some very close races to be decided. So get out and vote for your favorite players. Actually, forget about your favorite players. If you've waited until the last day to vote, how about voting for my favorites? ↵

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↵Each team is represented at every position, which, despite all the advanced technology, leads to a heckuva lot of clunkers making the ballots. Blame it on the printing process, I suppose. That does create a bit of a popularity contest as big-name players receive votes based on reputation rather than performance. Let's have a look at some of the best and worst choices for your last-minute votes this season: ↵

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↵American League ↵
↵First Base: Clearly Miguel Cabrera (pictured) deserves every vote with a .337/20HR/68RBI so far this season. White Sox fans can feel proud to be homers if they picked Paul Konerko and his .295/20/56. Justin Morneau is also doing well, hitting .349/16/52 for the Twins. ↵

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↵Not so good? How about Garrett Atkins who was designated for assignment by the Orioles this week after starting the season .214/1/9 in 140 at bats. Casey Kotchman has a line of .188/3/22 for Seattle, while Carlos Pena is batting just .202, albeit with his 16 homers and 50 RBI for the Rays. But nobody would be worse to pick than Chris Davis who was sent down to Triple-A by the Rangers back in April. His line is .188/0/1 in 48 at bats…on the All-Star ballot. Whoops. ↵

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↵Second Base: It's hard to stare at basic numbers of homers, average, RBI and steals to determine who on this list should get your vote. But based on those metrics – what MLB provides to voters with the ballot – Robinson Cano should get every vote, hitting .353 with 15 homers and 53 RBI. The next closest guy is Dustin Pedroia with .292/12/41. Of course, my vote goes to Ben Zobrist, just on principle. ↵

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↵As for the worst, it's amazing how bad Aaron Hill has been for a good Toronto team. He does have 11 homers and 28 RBI but is hitting just .187 on the year. Cleveland youngster Luis Valbuena is hitting .166/2/14 with one steal in 151 at bats but even he isn't the worst choice. That would be Baltimore's Brian Roberts who has been out most of the year with injury and has a stat line of just two hits in 14 at bats. ↵

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↵Shortstop: Derek Jeter has more than double the next highest vote getter, and you really can't blame fans for picking him. He's the only big name at the position in the AL and he's been the most productive at .283/8/39. Elvis Andrus is second and his line is .296/0/24 with 22 steals. ↵

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↵The worst is easier to pick, again. J.J. Hardy is hitting .217 with three homers and 13 RBI in 138 at bats for the Twins. Adam Everett has a line of .185/0/4 in 81 at bats for the Tigers and isn't even the everyday starter. Ramon Santiago must be so proud. ↵

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↵Third Base: As of Monday, Evan Longoria was crushing the field in voting, including over a million more votes than Alex Rodriguez. Longoria's line of .294/12/53 with 12 steals is better than A-Rod's (.279/11/54/2), but Michael Young of Texas (.316/11/51) or Adrian Beltre of the Red Sox (.349/12/53) surely deserve consideration as well. ↵

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↵On the bad side, Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .200/9/22 in 120 at bats for Toronto and Brandon Wood is running away with it at .176/3/12 in 153 at bats for the Angels. ↵

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↵Catcher: If you vote for anyone other than Joe Mauer, you're a Yankee homer just picking Posada as a lifetime achievement award. ↵

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↵As for the worst, this vote is much harder. How can you get much worse than Lou Marson for the Indians who hit .191/1/12 before getting sent down in favor of Carlos Santana. Somehow you can, as Taylor Teagarden (pictured) is on the ballot for Texas after his steallar .037/0/0 offering in 27 at bats before he got sent packing back to the minors this season. ↵

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↵DH: Your vote at DH has to go to Vlad Guerrero who is having a huge resurgence in Texas with a line of .339/18/68. ↵

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↵For the worst? Where to start? How about Nick Johnson who needed wrist surgery in May and has been out for the Yankees after starting the year at .167/2/8. Andruw Jones is hitting .199 on the season for Chicago and Adam Lind is hitting .203 for Toronto. Of course nothing can be better than Pat Burrell on the ballot for Tampa. Burrell hit .202/2/13 before getting released and picked up in the National League by the Giants. Oh, right, there's Ken Griffey Jr. who is in 4th place in voting after retiring already this season. ↵

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↵Outfield: There are a lot of good choices and you can't really go wrong with the top three vote getters in Ichiro, Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford. Nelson Cruz is just behind them in voting, hitting .319/10/39 for Texas. Here's hoping David DeJesus gets some late votes for his .331/5/35 effort in Kansas City. ↵

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↵The worst? Matt Joyce is now listed as Tampa's DH but somehow made the roster as an outfielder. He has 14 at bats, hitting .214. Jacoby Ellsbury has just 44 at bats this year, hitting .250/0/3 with just two steals. Grady Sizemore has been injured for much of the year, hitting just .211/0/13 in 128 at bats. Don't forget to vote him into the Home Run Derby too! ↵

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↵National League ↵
↵First Base: Albert Pujols (.310/18/57) has more than double the votes for Ryan Howard (.295/15/55) in a well-deserved first and second in voting. Joey Votto is making a strong case for votes with his line of .313/18/55. Inexplicably, Adrian Gonzalez (.302/16/51) isn't in the top five in voting despite nearly identical numbers to Howard in a bigger ballpark. ↵

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↵The worst is pretty easy in the NL. Derrek Lee is hitting just .234/10/36 for the Cubs, but that's nothing if you look at the line for Pittsburgh's Jeff Clement who hit .189/5/9 for the Bucs before getting optioned earlier this month. ↵

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↵Second Base: Chase Utley (.277/11/37) has nearly double the votes of Martin Prado of Atlanta (.333/7/34), but a case can be made that Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips (.313/9/25 and 10 steals) is having the best year of anyone at second base. He's fifth in the league in voting. ↵

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↵The worst would go to the Pirates again as Akinori Iwamura (pictured) hit just .182/2/9 before he was optioned to Triple-A. That's some All-Star ballot caliber right side of the infield, Pirates fans. You must be so proud. Oh, I did say would go to the Pirates and that's because Kaz Matsui was even worse than Iwarmura, hitting .141/0/1 with one steal in 71 at bats for Houston before getting released and picked up by the Rockies on a minor league deal. ↵

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↵Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez (.296/12/51) is leading the league in votes and his stat line warrants those votes, even if his early-season lack of hustle may have turned off some voters. Jimmy Rollins is second in votes, hitting .270/3/11 in just 74 at bats after being hampered with injuries this year. There really is no other choice than Ramirez, though nobody would balk at picking Jose Reyes (.277/6/32 with 19 steals) or Troy Tulowitzki (.306/9/34) this year. ↵

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↵Nobody has been comically terrible at shortstop like some at second base, Houston's Tommy Manzella, recently placed on the DL with a broken finger, is hitting .212/1/16 combining to make perhaps the worst middle infield for one team in All-Star ballot history. St. Louis shortstop Brendan Ryan has been terrible this year, with a line of .209/2/15. ↵

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↵Third Base: Placido Polanco is leading the NL in votes at third base, and has had a solid start to the season, but his current trip to the DL couldn't have come at a worse time to get some last minute votes. David Wright should finish in first when all the votes are counted, and deservedly so, hitting .311/14/63 to Polanco's .318/5/27. That said, Polanco has played stellar defense and if he does lose out in votes, surely deserves a spot on the team. ↵

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↵You know who doesn't deserve a spot on the team? Aramis Ramirez who is hitting a whopping .179 with six homers and 23 RBI for the Cubs. To continue the theme of terrible Astros on the ballot, Pedro Feliz has a line of .229/3/24 and when added to Lance Berkman's .249/7/35 at first for Houston and the two middle infielders mentioned above, there's little doubt that the Astros provided MLB with the worst infield in the history of the All-Star ballot. ↵

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↵Catcher: Seriously, it couldn't possibly get worse for Houston, but it does. Catcher J.R. Towles made the ballot and went .191/1/8 in 47 at bats before breaking his thumb and then getting sent back to Double-A. John Baker's .218/0/6 in 78 at bats for Florida was just as terrible. ↵

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↵As for the actual major league-caliber catchers? Miguel Olivo of Colorado isn't in the top five in voting, but clearly deserves more after hitting .398/11/38 this season. Yadier Molina leads the position in votes after hitting .235/3/30, batting more than 20 points lower than the other Molina on the ballot, Benji. ↵

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↵Outfield: The leading vote getters in the outfield so far are Ryan Braun, Andre Ethier and Jason Heyward (pictured) which is really cool for the Braves rookie, assuming he'll be able to play after landing on the DL this week. Manny Ramirez (.322/8/39), Jayson Werth (.292/13/47), Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado (.299/12/46) and Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh (.301/7/24 with 19 steals) are all good choices too. ↵

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↵Not such good choices? How about this list of players on the ballot all batting below .200: Kyle Blanks of San Diego (.157/3/15) who hasn't played since May with an elbow issue, Mark DeRosa of the Giants (.194/1/10) who is out for the year with wrist surgery, Matt Diaz of Atlanta (.176/0/5) who just got back after being out more than a month with a thumb injury, Nate McClouth of Atlanta (.176/3/14) and Willie Harris of Washington (.155/4/18). ↵

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↵There are others just over the .200 mark, including Colorado's Dexter Fowler (.204/1/4 with six steals) and Cameron Maybin of Florida (.225/5/19) who lost his spot in the lineup when Mike Stanton came up and was recently sent down to Triple-A. Oh, and thus far this season, Tony Gwynn Jr, who is on the ballot for his dad's old team in San Diego, is hitting .221/2/15 (with 13 steals), not exactly making the Gwynn name proud. ↵

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↵Go Vote ↵
↵There you have it, the best and worst options at each position. Some of the worst, as noted in several cases, are that bad because of injury. They aren't used to suggest those players aren't good pros, it's to suggest that the All-Star ballot should be done on June 1, with a month of online and in-stadium voting. There's no way some of those players, many of who were out for the year or sent to the minors in May, should be on this list. ↵

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↵Let's just hope some internet hackers like the folks at 4chan don't get a hold of this list. A roster of also-rans would make for a very interesting first few innings of the All-Star game. It counts, after all. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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