Voting for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game closed Thursday night, and the results came to our TV screens that evening. The stakes (home field advantage in the World Series) and the selection process (fan popularity vote) of the All-Star Game are heavily debated, but that didn't stop us from having a little fun.
What follows is the Cubs Insider staff ballot, voted on by six of our writers, followed by some commentary. Who would start on July 15th if we were calling the shots? Take a look:
Bold player led the staff in votes (or tied for a lead), parenthesis is number of votes, and * denotes a write-in candidate.
C: Jonathon Lucroy (5), Devin Mesoraco
1B: Paul Goldschmidt (4), Anthony Rizzo, Justin Morneau
2B: Anthony Rendon (2), Chase Utley (2), Neil Walker, Dee Gordon
3B: Todd Frazier (6)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (6)
OF: Giancarlo Stanton (6), Andrew McCutchen (6), Yasiel Puig (3), Carlos Gomez, Justin Upton, Michael Cuddyer
C: Salvador Perez (4), Derek Norris, Matt Wieters
1B: Jose Abreu (6)
2B: Robinson Cano (3), Jose Altuve (2), Ian Kinsler
3B: Adrian Beltre (2), Josh Donaldson (2), Evan Longoria
SS: Alexei Ramirez (3), Alcides Escobar (2), Derek Jeter
OF: Mike Trout (6), Jose Bautista (5), Michael Brantley (2), Nelson Cruz (2)*, Yoenis Cespedes (2), Adam Jones
DH: Edwin Encarnacion (4), Nelson Cruz (2)
Q: How did you fill out your ballot and why did you pick the players you did?
Tommy Cook: When I watch the All Star Game I’m watching it to see, as much as possible, guys who are some of the very best talents in the game right now play the game. This doesn’t mean “best half season”, but rather guys who are truly stars of the game.
For example, I’m taking Utley over, say, Dee Gordon. Gordon’s been good, but I’m not turning on the TV to watch him play. However, I will turn on the TV to see a borderline HoF 2B hit against the best pitchers in the world. In the end, the ASG is about entertainment, and superstars are where I get my entertainment.
Evan Altman: My process was far from scientific and I didn't delve into any sabermetric numbers to determine my teams. I basically looked through the traditional stats and sought overall performance and balance. Like chicks, I dig the longball, so I'd be lying if I said homers didn't stand out to me.
If I'm being even more honest, I'd prefer to have left any White Sox players off the list, but c'est la vie. And Rizzo isn't a homer pick; his production is for real and needs to be recognized. I'd love to have put Starlin Castro on the team as well, but putting any SS above Tulo would just be stupid.
I really wanted to put Evan Gattis on the team too, for multiple reasons. First, and most obvious, he's got an awesome name; how could I not vote for Evan? But he's also got a pretty cool backstory, one that's perfect for the little human-interest stories they love to run before or during these exhibitions.
Plus, the dude can straight mash and he's on my fantasy baseball team. Finally, I'd just as soon not have any Reds on my team, let alone two. But Mesoraco has had a great first half and Gattis is hurt.
Ryan Davis: My process was pretty simple; I had a few people in mind that I knew were having huge years. I went to Fangraphs and looked at the leaders section, and sorted by WAR and wOBA for the hitters to confirm my beliefs and create tiebreakers.
The only real big surprises to me were Salvador Perez from the Indians and Alcides Escobar from the Royals. Neither are having seasons that jump off the stat sheet, but I think are performing the best in the AL at their positions.
WilcoMeThat: Now that the game is more competitive—there’s some skin in it—and with it being an AL park, I balanced my selections towards run producers and guys who hit for high average. For instance, Altuve is nowhere near a power hitter, but he has the highest BA among AL shorties, with the most PAs.
Donaldson may not have the best BA in the AL, but among third baggers, he leads in HRs (18) and RBIs (61), so we’ve got a little power at 3rd.
In the NL, I was very close to contradicting myself at 3rd by selecting Casey McGehee, who has the best BA and RBI among NL third-basemen, but the 20-point average differential doesn’t match Frazier’s power numbers and stolen bases.
I know Cubs fans will be in awe that I did not pick Starlin at short, but there is no denying who’s the best short stop in baseball right now: Troy. And I will be nailed to the cross for selecting another Rock in Justin Morneau over the Rizz Kid, but the numbers just don’t lie when comparing the two.
Tom Loxas: What I tried to do here was pick who I want to see in this game. I mostly went with players who I'd like to see on my TV, that included current ability, entertainment value, and deservedness.
The only sentimental pick of course was Jeter. You absolutely have to have Jeter start in this game, end of story. There were some tough choices but I think these would be some fun lineups to watch.
Justin Jabs: I made my picks based on each player's 2014 performance thusfar. To me, the All-Star Game should be a celebration of the best players in an individual season (using their first half numbers which will theoretically continue, although that isn't always the case). Most of my picks are pretty straightforward.
I wanted to vote for Rizzo, I think he's had a phenomenal season so far; but Goldschmidt has been flat-out better. Adrian Beltre got the nod for me at third base in the AL. There's no clear-best 3B in the league right now, but Beltre is right up in there in the conversation and is a solid player and potential Hall of Fame candidate.
Q: Which Chicago Cubs players do you think are deserving of All-Star selection, and who do you think will participate in the game?
Tommy Cook: If I were in charge, I’m probably putting one Cubs player in the All Star Game – Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo’s swung one of the best bats in all of the NL this year, and such a strong season merits an ASG roster spot.
Jeff Samardzija was another pick of mine before the trade. He’s been great, and when he’s on, his stuff is unhittable. That’s the kind of pitcher I’d like to see face AL hitters. No Starlin for me – Hanley Ramirez is my backup shortstop behind starter Troy Tulowitzki.
Evan Altman: I'm worried that Rizzo will get crowded out of a strong NL first base group, particularly if Shark makes the team. I think Castro should make it too, but again, see the previous issues. Despite a late start, Jake Arrieta is looking like as much of an ace as anyone not named Clayton Kershaw, so I'd give him strong consideration as well. And you can't forget about Hammel.
In the end, I think Samardzija's popularity and flowing locks earn him a nod and I do think Rizzo makes it. But thinking that that Cubs can get any more than 2 players on the roster is asking way too much.
Ryan Davis: As for the Cubs, I fully intended to be a Cubs homer and put down Rizzo as my starting 1B. But when I saw the numbers and realized that Goldschmidt is better in every single category, I had to change. Rizzo has been the clear number 2 in the NL, however, and should make the team. Castro has an outside chance as well, depending on how many shortstops are on the roster.
Hanley Ramirez will likely be selected ahead of him. As much as we love Valbuena, I see no shot of him making it. Jake Arrieta has pitched well enough for consideration and he would be my pick for the pitching staff. Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija (before the trade) were pitching at that level for the Cubs as well.
WilcoMeThat: My selections don’t mean we should not have Cubs on the All-Star team nor that there won’t be. Castro and Rizzo both deserve nods, although I really hope Rizzo does not make the Home Run Derby.
I think he would fare well, but I worry about the results on his ego from flopping on a national stage, should that happen. He’s matured so much as a player and hitter this season, why risk it?
I really want to see the two of them on the roster, to see how well they bat back-to-back with Rizzo actually batting ahead of a pitching threat. It would be a nice predictor of when Bryant gets up here. I think the team will have several Cubs pitchers, and it doesn’t take a genius to call out the likes of Schlitter and Arietta.
Tom Loxas: As far as Cubs players go, I believe Anthony Rizzo will be the representative. I also believe Starlin Castro should get strong consideration. Two guys who will get overlooked but actually are pitching like All-Stars are Jake Arietta and Neil Ramirez.
Justin Jabs: I'd say Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro should make the bench, both have had great bounce-back seasons and it would fun to see them in the game together. On the pitching side, of course I'm banging the Hector Rondon drum (#RondonFanClub).
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Filed under: Round Tables