Tagged: Yoenis Cespedes

2015 All-Star Game AL & NL Final Vote Picks and Predictions

all-star-logo

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:

American League

200_593428Xander Bogaerts | BOS

AVG: .302 HR: 3 RBI: 37 SB: 4 AB: 295

a

200_493316Yoenis Cespedes | DET

AVG: .294 HR: 11 RBI: 45 SB: 3 AB: 320

a

200_572821Brian Dozier | MIN

AVG: .260 HR: 17 RBI: 42 SB: 7 AB: 323

a

200_458731Brett Gardner | NYY

AVG: .297 HR: 9 RBI: 39 SB: 15 AB: 293

a

200_519058Mike Moustakas | KC

AVG: .301 HR: 7 RBI: 31 SB: 1 AB: 289

a

National League

200_456501Johnny Cueto | CIN

W: 5 L: 5 SV: 0 ERA: 2.84 IP: 104.2 K: 100

a

200_544727Jeurys Familia | NYM

W: 2 L: 0 SV: 23 ERA: 1.13 IP: 39.2 K: 41

a

200_477132Clayton Kershaw | LA

W: 5 L: 6 SV: 0 ERA: 3.08 IP: 114.0 K: 147

a

200_593372Carlos Martinez | STL

W: 9 L: 3 SV: 0 ERA: 2.70 IP: 100.0 K: 105

a

200_453064Troy Tulowitzki | COL

AVG: .321 HR: 9 RBI: 44 SB: 0 AB: 274

a


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.

My Pick

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.

My Prediction

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.

Second Half Questions for Oakland

Home Run Derby After-Effects?

Cespedes DerbyThe last time there was a back-to-back Home Run Derby champion was ’98-’99 when Ken Griffey Jr. did it. Now he is joined by Yoenis Cespedes. After beating Todd Frazier to capture his second Home Run Derby championship in as many years, Cespedes will now have to turn his focus to the second half of his third full season in order to keep Oakland at the top of the AL West. Yet, the primary question that surrounds all Home Run Derby participants is: How will it affect a players swing and hence, their second half? Luckily for A’s fans, Cespedes is a second half guy. Over his career, he’s hit .290 after the All-Star Break compared to his .242 average in the first half.

Donaldson StrugglingI think the bigger concern is how will Josh Donaldson respond after his first Home Run Derby appearance.

Well, to be honest, I think that Donaldson needs all the help he can get and maybe him hitting some bombs in the Derby will give the guy some confidence. Early in the season, he was a clear-cut candidate for the MVP award, but after June 1st has hit just .174 and his average has dropped all the way to a meager .238. He obviously needs to break out of his prolonged rut and seeing as how he has had a “swing big, miss big” approach (similar to Cespedes) so far this season, I believe he can’t get much worse and the second half will bring positive results to the A’s struggling third baseman.

Pitching Longevity?"<strong

After Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin went down before the A’s even played one game, it automatically put a massive amount of pressure on the newest members of the starting rotation, especially to fill those innings. Parker threw 197 innings while Griffin broke the 200 innings mark without either missing a start due to injury, something that’s highly overlooked in baseball today. Now its up to newcomers to the rotation Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez as well "<strongas first-year Sonny Gray, all of whom who have not had to throw as many innings as they are now being asked to. Kazmir threw 158 innings last season for the Cleveland Indians after spending the previous year in independent ball. Chavez pitched 57.1 innings in 2013 for the A’s as a long reliever, while Sonny Gray combined for 185.1 innings in Triple A and the majors, by far his most in a professional season.

Jesse  Chavez 2Each one of them are on pace this season to approach or pass the 200-inning mark, something only Kazmir previously has done (2007 season). So far, the trio’s combined 28-12 record and 2.77 ERA is a major reason for the A’s first-half success and it will be interesting to see how closely A’s manager Bob Melvin manages their workloads and pitch counts during the second half, particularly because the Angels are so close in the division race.

Angels Ascending?

AL West StandingsThe Oakland Athletics finished their first half of the 2014 season with the MLB’s best record for the 25th day in a row, and they have sat atop the AL West every day and every night since April 28. Yet, in the back seat of the Oakland wagon are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have prevented them from running away with a 3rd consecutive division title. They won 19 of 23 games before the All-Star Break, and now trail the A’s by only 1.5 games to start the second half. While the Seattle Mariners also have put themselves in contention for a playoff berth, the frontrunners to win the AL West are most likely to be the ball clubs from opposite ends of California. They play each other 10 times over August and September and six of those games are at the O.Co Coliseum, providing a small advantage to the A’s. Especially considering each team is second (Oakland) and first (LA) in terms of best home records.

Middle Infield?

"<strongEveryday starting shortstop, Jed Lowrie was a key to the offense in 2013, batting .290 and often hitting third in the order. However, after a good start in April, he hit a combined .187 in May and June with only 13 extra-base hits. So far in July, he’s turned it around a bit, raising his average to a still depressing .239. Although this avg. bump included some weak “bloop” hits, those may be a sign of Lowrie’s first half tough luck starting to fade. His career average of balls in play is .291 while this season has been .267, a significant drop off. With Melvin’s “platoon system” in place over the last few seasons, his offense has typically been deep enough to mask individual struggles, but the A’s need Lowrie (one of the few everyday starters) to regain some of his 2013 form..

Having already adding Samardzija and Hammel, the A’s are probably not finished upgrading their roster before the Trade Deadline on July 31. A middle-infield improvement could be in the works, following a notably disappointing first half from second basemen Nick Punto and Eric Sogard, who hit .213 and .186, respectively. Oakland might also think about dipping into the shortstop market and move Lowrie to second-base, despite the second-baseman trade market being much deeper.