Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss whether or not the fans’ selections for the American League All-Star team were right and who should be starting the All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10.
Mike Napoli of the Rangers was the fan choice, but White Sox backstop A.J. Pierzynski should be starting in the All-Star Game. Pierzynski is not one of the more popular players in baseball and was actually expected to lose his job coming into this season. However, he is hitting .285 this year with 14 home runs and 45 RBI.
Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays should be starting instead of Prince Fielder. Encarnacion has always had great potential but has been inconsistent in the past. This season, however, he is deserving of a starting spot in Kansas City with a .291 average, 22 home runs, 55 RBI and eight stolen bases.
The fans got this one right, voting in Robinson Cano of the Yankees. He’s batting .310 with 20 home runs and 46 RBI. Not only is he an All-Star but he is clearly the Yankees’ MVP.
The fans chose Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, which is a good pick because he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Miguel Cabrera, however, is the best third baseman in the American League with a .314 average, 16 home runs and 62 RBI.
Derek Jeter is having a good season, but Elvis Andrus of the Rangers is the best shortstop in the American League right now. He is not a power hitter with just one home run but he’s batting .307 with 32 RBI and 16 stolen bases. The fans should have voted in Andrus instead of Jeter.
Of the three outfielders voted in, only one was the right pick by the fans. It wasn’t a surprise that Josh Hamilton was selected, and he is the right choice. He’s on pace for more than 50 home runs and 140 RBI this season.
Angels rookie Mike Trout should be starting in place of Curtis Granderson. Trout is batting .339 with nine home runs, 33 RBI and 22 stolen bases, and keep in mind that he started this season in the minor leagues.
Adam Jones of the Orioles should have been selected in place of Jose Bautista. Jones has a .302 average, 19 home runs, 42 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He has a bright future and is likely one of the next big stars in baseball.
David Ortiz was the right pick by the fans. He continues to put up big numbers with a .302 average, 21 home runs and 54 RBI this season. This is Ortiz’s eighth All-Star selection.
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Second to None!
The Best: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
After breaking out last season with 29 home runs, 112 runs, and 11 steals many baseball fans expected Rickie Weeks to take a small step back this season. I’m not really sure why expectations were so low.
The second overall pick of the 2003 draft is finally healthy and at 28 years old he should be in his prime. Plus, he is surrounded by sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Corey Hart, all who guarantee that Weeks will rack up plenty of runs. Weeks has managed to cut down on his strikeouts this season, while improving his batting average to .286. Considering the drastic difference in expectations, Weeks gets the edge as the best second baseman over Yankees star Robinson Cano.
The Surprise: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Coming into the season, Danny Espinosa had been called the poor man’s version of Dan Uggla. While the expectations have been met with Espinosa blasting 15 home runs despite just a .238 average, it turns out that Espinosa has actually outperformed Uggla.
At 24 years old, Espinosa is a building block for the Nationals. The 2008 third round pick out of Long Beach State has also impressed with a keen ability to draw walks. Plus, something that he offers that Uggla never has is his speed on the base paths. Pretty soon, baseball fans will have to compare Espinosa to Rangers star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The Bust: Dan Uggla, Braves
After belting 33 home runs with 105 RBI and a .287 last season, Dan Uggla was sought by several teams and ended up joining his long-time rival Atlanta Braves. As it turns out, Uggla is not done punishing the Braves. This time the damage is not a result of his power, but instead an unsuspecting power outage.
Sure, Uggla does have 12 home runs, which still ranks amongst the top second basemen. The problem is that his .178 average is more than 100 points off last year’s batting clip, as his home runs make up 22% of his total hits. There have been no signs of a let-up either, as Uggla hit just .179 in June.
The 2nd Half Sleeper: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Riding a nine-game hit streak, it looks like Howie Kendrick is on the verge of a bounce back season. After hitting just .279 last season, his average is up to .305 plus he has shown signs of power and speed. The good news is that Angels fans can expect even better for the second half of the season.
Kendrick missed some time in the first half due to a injury that forced him out of the lineup for two weeks and when he did return, Kendrick was hitless in his first ten at bats. Now that he is healthy, Kendrick should surpass his first half production culminating in what could be his best season so far.
By Tyler McKee
AL East is flush with second base talent. Each team’s starter played
more than 150 games in 2009 and four ranked among the six second
who scored 100 runs.
With top-end talent being rare at the position, any
one of these players makes a strong case to fill that 2B slot. Taking a
look at B-Rank (Bloomberg Sports’ proprietary
ranking system), as well as Bloomberg Sports’ spider charts for 5×5
hitting stats, we can easily identify
each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Blue Jays’ Aaron Hill
hit 36 homers last season, first among all second-baggers and ninth
positions. Power is his strong suit; his six steals and .330 on-base
percentage last year fall well short of elite status.
The Yankees’ Robinson
Cano bounced back in 2009 to a career high of 25 homers and the
average among second basemen at .320. He’s well suited to new Yankee
Stadium, a park that favors left-handed hitters and also turned moderate
power threat Johnny Damon into a major home run source last
year. Still, Cano gets a low Bloomberg
B-ranking of 99 because he lacks speed, with only five stolen bases last
year. Cano’s runs scored are also hurt by his aggressive approach at
the plate; his walk rate of 4.5% last year was second-lowest in the
majors for second basemen.
Brian Roberts‘ B-rank
places him at 37, because of his consistency across all five batting
categories. The spider charts show the Baltimore Oriole rating above
average in every category. His 30
steals ranked him second at the position last year. But Roberts has seen
those same speed numbers decline in recent years. Couple this with his
current injury status, a herniated disc that has kept him out of Spring
Training, and one can see why his average draft position is 24 spots
lower than his B-Rank.
Despite a drop-off in batting
average of almost 30 points, Boston’s Dustin Pedroia still
managed to hit .296 last
season with an OPS of .819. Power was all he lacked, with just 17
homers. He managed to swipe 20 bags last year, the second time he’s
accomplished that feat. At 26, Pedroia’s entering his prime and should
be off the board
quickly after Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler. His current ADP
has him drafted
Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist got off to a
torrid start in 2009, earning an everyday job and ending the season as
one of baseball’s most valuable players, with 27 home runs, a
.948 OPS and great defense. Was it a fluke? Zobrist’s .326 BABIP was a
little high (league average is around .300). Meanwhile, isolated power
(slugging percentage minus batting average) was a sky-high .246.
Bloomberg Sports colleague Tommy Rancel has chronicled
Zobrist Code, including Zobrist’s work with hitting instructor
Jamie Cevallos. Still, some regression toward the mean is expected.
Even then, Zobrist projects as an elite option at second base: He’s
going off the board at number 52 according to Bloomberg Sports ADP
information on good second base options, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit.