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.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.