The final vote is upon us ladies and gentleman. It’s another opportunity for the fans to decide a roster spot (fair or unfair) at this year’s All-Star Game. You have five players from both the American League and the National League to choose from, all deserving candidates. The unique aspect I’ve found about this years Final Vote is that the players reflect the strengths of each league. All players selected to the final ballot in the AL are hitters and all but one player for the NL are pitchers. While the NL does have some quality bats, the association with hitting is typically tagged to the AL and vice versa with conversation about the best pitching taking place mostly amongst NL teams. Nonetheless, here are your choices:
Xander Bogaerts | BOS
AVG: .302 HR: 3 RBI: 37 SB: 4 AB: 295
Yoenis Cespedes | DET
AVG: .294 HR: 11 RBI: 45 SB: 3 AB: 320
Brian Dozier | MIN
AVG: .260 HR: 17 RBI: 42 SB: 7 AB: 323
Brett Gardner | NYY
AVG: .297 HR: 9 RBI: 39 SB: 15 AB: 293
Mike Moustakas | KC
AVG: .301 HR: 7 RBI: 31 SB: 1 AB: 289
Johnny Cueto | CIN
W: 5 L: 5 SV: 0 ERA: 2.84 IP: 104.2 K: 100
Jeurys Familia | NYM
W: 2 L: 0 SV: 23 ERA: 1.13 IP: 39.2 K: 41
Clayton Kershaw | LA
W: 5 L: 6 SV: 0 ERA: 3.08 IP: 114.0 K: 147
Carlos Martinez | STL
W: 9 L: 3 SV: 0 ERA: 2.70 IP: 100.0 K: 105
Troy Tulowitzki | COL
AVG: .321 HR: 9 RBI: 44 SB: 0 AB: 274
Now as for my picks, I’m going to stray away from the typical stat-by-stat comparison and rationalize myself through a different perspective. Since each All-Star roster is extremely stacked and have essentially an equal amount of talent, I believe the final spot on the roster should be seen as an opportunity for the fans to vote for the player most likely to give their team an advantage. While the likeliness of these two ‘last guys on the bench’ actually seeing the field is slim, if they did, they should be able to have a positive impact.
AL: Yoenis Cespedes | DET
You may have to forgive my slight ex-Athletic bias, but the fact of the matter is he’s the best hitter of the group. If you ask me to pick a pinch-hitter off the bench to provide an impact late in what will likely be a tight game, I’m not hesitating to tell ‘Yo’ to go grab a bat. Plus his skills are perfectly fit for an All-Star game because of his ‘wow factor.’ The midsummer classic is supposed to be a spectacle for the public to enjoy and for the last two years, America has been awed by his power in the derby (he did make the team last year as well). However, that shouldn’t be the only area he’s considered to be a ‘contributor,’ because he truly is one of the most complete players in the game.
NL: Jeurys Familia | NYM
This may be a little shocking, but hear me out. If it makes some of you feel better, I was torn between him and Troy Tulowitzki. Side note: I think Tulo should be starting over both Johnny Peralta and Brandon Crawford. However, my vote would go to Familia because he is perfect for this type of game (and I think in an All-Star Game, pitchers ultimately are more responsible for the outcome of the game). Most starting pitchers are not used to warming up for just one-inning of work and as a result, often struggle because they try to overthrow and can’t find a rhythm. Familia – who has been one of the most shutdown closers this season – wouldn’t have that issue and so would be my pick to contribute the most off the bench.
AL: Mike Moustakas | KC
Baseball fans everywhere saw how vicious the ‘Royal Blue Voting Attack’ was for the starters so I would find it hard to imagine them not finding a way to get their guy in. However, I think the guy that will give him a run for his money will be Brian Dozier who got snubbed again this year (last year was worse when he wasn’t even selected to play at his home Target Field). Plus, Dozier has been quietly one of the best hitting second-baseman this season (currently leads the AL in runs scored).
NL: Clayton Kershaw | LA
Kershaw hasn’t been bad this season; in fact by most pitchers standards he’s been very good (most K’s in the MLB). However, last-seasons MVP has his own standard, one that based off of his previous 4 years is un-worldly. At the same time, having an All-Star Game without Kershaw is just wrong. I compare it to this year’s NBA All-Star Game, where Kevin Durant had been hurt and not necessarily playing up to ‘KD’s standards,’ but in the end was justly named an All-Star.
No matter what happens, this years All-Star Game in Cincinnati is shaping up to one of the more exciting ones in recent memories.