Monday, July 03, 2006

All-Star Quality Joke
By Zach

Every year after the All-Star teams have been announced, fans, writers, and others have a chance to react, not just to the starters whom the fans have selected, but the reserves whom the manager has picked. Clearly, the system is flawed: but how to fix it?

1. Rein in the importance of fan voting. Yes, I've heard the tired argument that the game is for the fans, and thus they should get to see whomever they want in the starting lineup, even if those players are overrated, washed up, or just happen to play for a team in New York or Boston. To that I say: screw the fans. I'm one, and I'd be glad to have my vote count less if it assured me that I was going to see the top 32 players in each league on their respective teams. Fans (as a whole) tend to be ill-informed and put way too much stock in name recognition, instead of (gasp) looking at what the players are actually doing this year. How else do you explain guys like Mark Loretta, Paul LoDuca, Ivan Rodriguez, and Vlad Guerrero in the starting lineup ahead of guys like Jose Lopez, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, and Vernon Wells? Fans will watch the game even if the roster isn't stacked with guys from Boston and New York, and it will truly reward the guys who are having great seasons.

2. Don't let players or managers near the selection process. Players are perhaps the most ignorant people in baseball, except for managers. They will gravitate towards the big names for the most part, ignoring breakthrough players and young stars. Letting the manager from the previous World Series pick a few players often results in favoritism, and it has never been more rampant than this year in the AL, when White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen chose Paul Konerko, Bobby Jenks, and Mark Buerhle despite there being a plethora of better options, guys like Travis Hafner, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Francisco Liriano, Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, JJ Putz, and others.

3. Don't let the media pick players either. First, the majority of sportswriters and broadcast personalities are at least as clueless as fans, players, and managers. Second, they play favorites just like the rest of us.

4. Get rid of the rule requiring each team to have a representative. Yes, the host team needs a player in the game, but who the hell cares if the Royals aren't represented? There's no one on that team playing at an All-Star level, so why foist guys like Mark Redman on us?

So who should pick the teams? Why not the Sportszilla staff? I promise we'll be fairer than the current system, and we promise to fully explain our picks with better rationale than "he plays for my team," or "I know who he is."

With that in mind, here are my rosters (stats given are OPS and Runs Created/Game for batters, FIP and Pitching Runs Created for starting pitchers, and FIP and K/G for relievers). Bolded players were named to the roster, while bolded and italicized players were named as starters

American League

Joe Mauer - C, Minnesota (.995, 10.0)
Travis Hafner - 1B, Cleveland (1.084, 11.7)
Jose Lopez - 2B, Seattle (.790, 6.9)
Derek Jeter - SS, New York (.890, 8.5)
Alex Rodriguez - 3B, New York (.917, 8.0)
Manny Ramirez - LF, Boston (1.058, 9.6)
Vernon Wells - CF, Toronto (.987, 7.9)
Jermaine Dye - RF, Chicago (1.003, 9.1)

Jorge Posada - C, New York (.892, 7.5)
Jim Thome - 1B/DH, Chicago (1.063, 10.8)
Jason Giambi - 1B/DH, New York (1.062, 10.4)
Paul Konerko - 1B, Chicago (.952, 8.3)
Brian Roberts - 2B, Baltimore (.787, 7.2)
Carlos Guillen - SS, Detroit (.887, 7.7)
Joe Crede - 3B, Chicago (.871, 7.1)
Ichiro Suzuki - OF, Seattle (.881, 8.3)
Carl Crawford - OF, Tampa Bay (.874, 8.7)
Grady Sizemore - OF, Cleveland (.912, 7.4)
Gary Matthews - OF, Texas (.915, 7.6)

Johan Santana - SP, Minnesota (2.90, 87)
Francisco Liriano - SP, Minnesota (2.39, 77)
Roy Halladay - SP, Toronto (3.63, 61)
Jeremy Bonderman - SP, Detroit (2.68, 63)
Curt Schilling - SP, Boston (3.44, 66)
Mike Mussina - SP, New York (3.49, 66)
John Lackey - SP, Los Angeles (3.80, 59)
Danny Haren - SP, Oakland (4.13, 61)
Scott Kazmir - SP, Tampa Bay (3.66, 54)
Jonathan Papelbon - RP, Boston (1.92, 10.6)
BJ Ryan - RP, Toronto (1.19, 13.9)
JJ Putz - RP, Seattle (1.29, 14.1)
Joe Nathan - RP, Minnesota (1.39, 13.8)

Final Man choices:

David Ortiz - 1B/DH, Boston (.971, 7.4)
Raul Ibanez - OF, Seattle (.894, 7.6)
Jose Contreas - SP, Chicago (3.76, 51)
Barry Zito - SP, Oakland (4.34, 65)
Bobby Jenks - RP, Chicago (2.21, 11.3)

The biggest area of discrepancy on my AL roster is clearly on the pitching staff. Contreras has the gaudy W/L record, but his stats are a slight bit below the rest of the guys I picked. Ortiz is the biggest name left off, but I decided to take a backup at every position, and this season Ortiz is the fifth-best 1B/DH in the American League. The Royals are the only American League team without a representitive, and the roster breaks down like this:

5 - New York
4 - Chicago, Minnesota
3 - Boston, Seattle, Toronto
2 - Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay
1 - Baltimore, Los Angeles, Oakland, Texas

National League:

Brian McCann - C, Atlanta (.923, 7.6)
Albert Pujols - 1B, St. Louis (1.156, 13.3)
Dan Uggla - 2B, Florida (.879, 7.6)
Jose Reyes - SS, New York (.826, 7.1)
Miguel Cabrera - 3B, Florida (1.013, 9.8)
Matt Holliday - LF, Colorado (.992, 6.6)
Carlos Beltran - CF, New York (1.039, 10.0)
Bobby Abreu - OF, Philadelphia (.917, 9.2)

Michael Barrett - C, Chicago (.885, 6.2)
Nomar Garciaparra - 1B, Los Angeles(1.011, 9.9)
Lance Berkman - 1B, Houston (1.009, 10.0)
Nick Johnson - 1B, Washington (.975, 8.8)
Chase Utley - 2B, Philadelphia (.884, 7.1)
Bill Hall - SS, Milwaukee (.871, 6.0)
Scott Rolen - 3B, St. Louis (.992, 8.3)
David Wright - 3B, New York (.973, 8.9)
Carlos Lee - RF, Milwaukee (.917, 7.5)
Jason Bay - OF, Pittsburgh (.932, 6.7)

Brandon Webb - SP, Arizona (3.04, 78)
Jason Schmidt - SP, San Francisco (3.40, 74)
Chris Capuano - SP, Milwaukee (3.11, 62)
Bronson Arroyo - SP, Cincinnati (3.54, 73)
Brad Penny - SP, Los Angeles (3.31, 61)
Roy Oswalt - SP, Houston (3.46, 56)
Chris Carpenter - SP, St. Louis (3.57, 57)
Aaron Harang - SP, Cincinnati (3.20, 53)
Pedro Martinez - SP, New York (3.67, 52)
Brian Fuentes - RP, Colorado (2.76, 13.3)
Trevor Hoffman - RP, San Diego (2.45, 7.7)
Tom Gordon - RP, Philadelphia (2.74, 11.7)
Derrick Turnbow - RP, Milwaukee (3.29, 11.6)

Final Man choices:

Ryan Howard - 1B, Philadelphia (.958, 6.5)
Brad Hawpe - OF, Colorado (.962, 6.1)
Freddy Sanchez - 3B, Pittsburgh (.928, 8.2)
Chris Young - SP, San Diego (4.38, 59)
Carlos Zambrano - SP, Chicago (4.43, 65)

My NL bullpen exactly matches the real roster, how about that? In general, my NL roster matches up a bit better with the real NL roster than in the AL, in part probably because Phil Garner was a bit more restrained in his selection then Ozzie Guillen was. The breakdown is as follows:

4 - Milwaukee, New York
3 - Philadelphia, St. Louis
2 - Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida, Houston, Los Angeles
1 - Atlanta, Arizona, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington

In all, only one team (the Royals) doesn't have a representitive. This roster has plenty of big names, but also rewards young players having breakout years and the other top performers in the game. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have an idea for how to actually fix the process? I agree that a lot of players having great years get overlooked for in favor of big names. But it seems like just saying "everyone else (fans, players, managers, media) is ignorant, WE should get to pick the teams" isn't a very original argument. Everyone thinks HE really knows best who should be selected.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Kevin B. said...

I've always thought a good process would be to give the fans an initial decision then make the manager decide. For example, fans vote and then the top 3 or 5 vote getters are put towards a final decision by the manager and he picks the best choice. This would have given Joe Mauer a start because there was no way Ozzie couldn't pick him. Oh yeah, and Liriano and Verlander both should be All-Stars because I think rookies putting up the stats they have is even more impressive than veterns.

9:38 PM  

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