Baseball's real All-Star team

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Baseball's real All-Star team

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

All-Star voting should adopt the slogan, Vote late, vote often. The folks at MLB would certainly object to that, but it would make for much better educated votes. Voting ends for the All-Star Game at 11:59 PM on Thursday, June 30. Which means that today, Monday, June 27 is the day to start your voting.

Let me start by saying I have very mixed feelings about the All-Star voting process and that is because I feel that too many people:

a) vote too early
b) vote based on prior seasons performances
c) vote for their favorite uniforms
d) all of the above

Yes, the correct answer is d.

Today I am introducing a stat that I created called ASV. It is unlike the sophisticated mathematical based statistical tools and equations that we use so frequently on the STATion and when discussing baseball in general. It is simply a mix of existing offensive and defensive stats.

Heres how it works: You may vote 25 times for your All-Stars and since I believe this isnt entirely a black and white exercise I assign weighted values to players by position. The total of the ASV must add up to 25 (representing my 25 ballots).

Its easy to understand once we get started, so lets begin behind the plate.

CATCHER - most recent voting totals:
Russell Martin, Yankees: 2,226,797
Alex Avila, Tigers: 1,730,511
Joe Mauer, Twins: 1,341,474
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox: 1,135,617
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers: 980,697

Russell Martin leads in voting because he got off to a great start (early voters) and wears a Yankee uniform, but he is not an All-Star. Joe Mauer has hardly played this season but gets props for his prior performance. He is not an All-Star this season either. Nation, I know Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .348 in June, but hes still hitting .250, thrown out 25 of prospective stealers and has improved enough not to be an automatic out, but hes no All-Star.

Alex Avila of the Tigers leads all catchers with a .303 batting average and has 10 homers, which ties him for second with J.P. Arencibia of Toronto, who is hitting .226, and trails Miguel Olivo, who has 12 homers and is hitting .227. I dont give any votes to anyone hitting under .250 for an All-Star Game. I am hard pressed to give a vote to an under a .270 hitter, but I can show flexibility, particularly behind the plate where hitting is often secondary.

Avila leads all catchers in average, RBI and has thrown out 39 of prospective base stealers (the league average is 29). He gets a 20 ASV from me.
Matt Wieters of the Orioles is hitting .262 but has 7 homers, 33 RBI and has thrown out 42 base stealers gets 3 All-Star Votes.
A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox and his .296 batting average but only 18 throwing out stealers, gets a 2 ASV.

FIRST BASE voting:
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: 3,017,960
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 2,407,665
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 1,771,893
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 890,468
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 676,194

My first half MVP is Adrian Gonzalez, but there are a number of first basemen having monster seasons. I mention that because as much as I would like to give Gonzo a 25 ASV, I cant.

There are two other first sackers who are clearly having outstanding seasons: I must give some ASV love to Miguel Cabrera who is hitting .330 with 15 homers and 52 RBI. He has led his Tigers to first place and has All-Star numbers. Then there is Paul Konerko who has 21 homers, 60 RBI, and is hitting .324.

Even with 23 homers, Mark Teixeira does not get a vote from me and Mitch Moreland, hitting .286, gets shut out as well.

Adrian Gonzalez, in my mind, has done everything to put the Sox in first place including hitting .361, .394 with runners on base, and .400 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Gonzo gets 17 ASV
Miggy 4 ASV
Konerko 4 ASV

SECOND BASE voting
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 3,664,498
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 2,239,172
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 1,452,880
Orlando Cabrera, Indians: 910,941
Ben Zobrist, Rays: 828,771

At second base, I have a conflict. I love Dustin Pedroia. Pedey is my guy at second if I have to win one game, but its not easy giving him a high ASV this year.

Robinson Cano is hitting over .290, leads all second basemen with 14 homers and 48 RBI. However, when it comes to defense, as good as Cano is, Pedroia has an 8 Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average), the best in the AL. Cano is -1. Kinsler, Cabrera and Zobrist all have a 3. Pedroia is also recovering from his slow start hitting over .375 this month but his overall .797 OPS is third to Cano .841 and Zobrists .812.

Cano 20 ASV
Pedroia 5 ASV

SHORTSTOP - voting
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 2,654,040
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 2,242,157
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 1,513,929
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: 875,371
Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: 813,888

The three best hitting shortstops are J.J. Hardy of Baltimore (.31110 homers29 RBI), Peralta (.3011143), and Cabrera (.2901243). Andrus is hitting over .270 and has 22 stolen bases. Erick Aybar is hitting over .285 and has 15 stolen bases.

Alicides Escobar of the Royals is the best fielding shortstop with a 9 Rtot (and is hitting over .270), followed by Brendan Ryan of the Mariners with an 8 Rtot. Andrus has a 3 Rtot, Jeter -4, Cabrera and Lowrie -5. Scutaro is at 1.

In my most divided ballot, I give Andrus a 9 ASV.
Escobar 6 ASV.
Cabrera 5 ASV.
Peralta 4 ASV.
Hardy 1 ASV

THIRD BASE - voting
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 2,876,537
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 2,307,380
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 2,025,438
Evan Longoria, Rays: 1,639,405
Brandon Inge, Tigers: 490,734

Kevin Youkilis is another member of the Sox who started off slow (he hit .208 in April), but has boosted his average to .275. His 55 RBI reflect his .293 average with runners on base and his .359 RISPw 2 outs average shows how valuable he has been the season. In my mind, he is worthy of All-Star votes, just not enough to be a starter.

Dislike him or hate him, A-Rod is having another All-Star season. Hes hitting .300 with 13 homers and 51 RBI. For those of you who dont believe he hits in the clutch, you are half right: hes hitting .348 with runners in scoring position but .273 RISPw 2 outs.

The only other third sacker worthy of consideration is Adrian Beltre .2631456 and has a 9 Rtot making him the highest rated third baseman in the league. A-Rod is next at 8, Youk is only 1.

Alex Rodriguez gets 12 ASV
Kevin Youkilis gets 8 ASV
Adrian Beltre gets 5 ASV.

OUTFIELD - voting
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 4,156,940
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 3,473,227
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 2,400,408
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 2,249,323
Carl Crawford, Red Sox: 1,789,097
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 1,537,101
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 1,462,426
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 1,271,843
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 1,120,179
J.D. Drew, Red Sox: 1,112,720
Matt Joyce, Rays: 1,038,098
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 906,983
Grady Sizemore, Indians: 867,281
David Murphy, Rangers: 785,630
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: 764,817

We get to choose three outfielders and Jacoby Ellsbury is the only Red Sox worthy of consideration.

Let me start from the bottom by eliminating Choo, who was only hitting .244 before he went on the DL. David Murphy is hitting .236, so say good-bye to him and to Grady Sizemore hitting. 224. Jeff Francoeur is only hitting .257 and has a name I have trouble spelling. Matt Joyce is easy to spell and is hitting .308 with 10 homers and has a plus 3 Rtot, so we wont eliminate him yet. We will eliminate J.D. Drew, who would probably have some nagging injury that would make him All-Star day-to-day if he were not having such a miserable season any way. Brett Gardner is hitting .281 and fielding wise is the highest rated in the AL with a 19 Rtot, he has stolen 16 bases but has been caught 10 times. He stays eligible. Swish has a 12 Rtot, but his .245 BA eliminates him. And even though Nelson Cruz has 18 homers, hes hitting a non-All-Star .240, so he goes too. This season, Suzuki is hitting .273, but has 19 steals. That is countered by a Rtot of -11. Sayonara, Ichiro. While Carl Crawford has gotten some clutch hits, he has not gotten a lot of hits period. CC gets to rest the hammy. Adam Jones of the Orioles is having a really good season offensively, the only trouble is that with an Rtot of -15 the worst in the AL, his defense is pretty offensive as well.

Jacoby Ellsbury is really having a marvelous season, hitting over .300, stealing 26 bases, has an OPS of .827, and has a 7 Rtot. He is an All-Star and should be the ALs leadoff batter. Josh Hamilton has only appeared in 41 games and while he is hitting .293, the power hitter only has seven dingers and 35 RBI. Compare those numbers with the great Jose Bautista, who is having an even better season number-wise than Adrian Gonzalez, (but still not more valuable). Bautista is fourth in the league in batting at .325, leads with 25 homers, has 48 RBI, leads in slugging at .655, leads with a .468 On Base percentage, leads with a 1.123 OPS, and leads with 4.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

In the same respect, the Yankee centerfielder Curtis Granderson is doing it all for the New Yorkers, both hitting for power and hitting against lefties. He already has 21 homers to go with his .276 batting average and has nine homers against lefties. He even has 12 steals and may be the Yankee MVP this season.

Bautista gets 17 ASV
Granderson gets 4 ASV
Ellsbury gets 3 ASV.
Denard Span of the Twins, hitting .294 and playing great defensively, gets 2 ASV

DESIGNATED HITTER - voting
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 3,116,578
Michael Young, Rangers: 1,760,195
Jorge Posada, Yankees: 1,120,830
Victor Martinez, Tigers: 932,711
Johnny Damon, Rays: 864,535

Big Papi is the man for the Sox this season at the DH slot hitting .311 with 17 homers and 48 RBI, but he is not the only DH having an All-Star season. V-Mart is hitting .333, Michael Young is hitting .323 and the Royals Billy Butler is hitting .303.

Not getting any ASV votes are Bobby Abreu (.285), Vlad Guerrero (.282) and Johnny Damon (.274).

Obviously, fielding has no impact on any of these uni-dimensional players.

Ortiz gets 11 ASV
Martinez gets 8, Young 5, and Butler 1.

So, to sum it up, my AL starting nine:

C: Alex Avila
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Elvis Andrus
OF: Jose Bautista
OF: Curtis Granderson
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury
DH: David Ortiz

I would love to hear from you on your All-Stars (thats why we have the comments below)

Remember, voting ends Thursday at midnight. Click HERE to vote.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.