Posted June 24, 2013

MLB All-Star Game fan voting update: NL outfield still the biggest problem area

All-Star Game
Carlos Gomez

Carlos Gomez has not generated enough support in MLB All-Star Game fan voting. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Fan voting for this year’s All-Star Game ends at midnight one week from Thursday, and, per the updates provided by Major League Baseball over the weekend, there’s still more work to be done to get the best team on the field in each league.

As was the case two weeks ago, the American League squad is shaping up well with Chris Davis, Robinson Cano, J.J. Hardy, and Miguel Cabrera around the infield and Joe Mauer behind the plate. Dustin Pedroia, who leads AL second basemen in on-base percentage (.394), runs (48), walks (42), doubles (20) and Baseball-Reference.com’s wins above replacement (3.5), should be giving Cano more of a challenge, but it’s hard to argue against Cano as the AL’s starting second baseman; he leads his peers in OPS (.850), slugging (.497), home runs (16) and RBIs (45). Cano also leads Pedroia in OPS+ (129 to 119).

The AL outfield situation is a bit more muddled, but if Jose Bautista can pass Nick Markakis for the final outfield spot, then the resulting trio of Adam Jones, Mike Trout, and Bautista would be a properly representative one. Bautista trailed Markakis by fewer than 50,000 votes (out of nearly two million) per Saturday’s update. The key here is for Orioles fans to stop stuffing ballot boxes. Markakis, who has never made an All-Star team, is hitting just .289/.341/.414 in right field and grades out as only slightly above average at the position.

Over in the National League, things have improved over the last two weeks, with David Wright now leading Pablo Sandoval at third base, albeit by an uncomfortably small margin of fewer than 130,000 votes out of nearly three million, or less than five percent of Wright’s vote total. The NL also has a new deserving leader at catcher, as Yadier Molina has pulled in front of Buster Posey, reflecting Molina’s similarly superior showing on the field.

Joey Votto has a 400,000-odd vote lead on Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Goldschmidt probably deserves to start based on the relative performances of the two players thus far this season, but Votto is the more established star and together they are the two best first basemen in the league. As long as both go to the game — and they will — it’s not all that important which of them starts.

Elsewhere things are a bit trickier. Troy Tulowitzki has a deservingly large lead at shortstop, but he won’t be able to play because of his broken rib. Replacement players are chosen by the league manager and the commissioner’s office, but it would help if the clear choice to be Tulowitzki’s replacement, the Brewers’ Jean Segura, could get the extra 125,000-odd votes needed to slip past the Giants’ Brandon Crawford and into second place in the fan vote.

The most contentious non-outfield position in either league is the NL’s second base spot, where leader Brandon Phillips and runners-up Marco Scutaro and Matt Carpenter are all separated by fewer votes than Votto and Goldschmidt. Phillips is the established All-Star (he made the team in 2010 and ’11), the elite glove man and the leader among the trio in home runs (11) and RBIs (60, second in the league to Goldschmidt). However, Phillips has been merely average per OPS+ (99) and his RBI total has been inflated by hitting behind Votto and Shin-Soo Choo, who rank first and second, respectively, in the NL in on-base percentage. Votto and Choo have scored 23 of the 60 runs Phillips has driven in.

Carpenter, meanwhile, leads NL second basemen in on-base percentage (.403), slugging (.472) and thus OPS (.875) and OPS+ (143), hits (92), runs (56), doubles (21) and bWAR (3.4). Scutaro leads in batting (.332) and also ranks ahead of Phillips in OBP (.386 to .318), slugging (.438 to .425) and thus OPS (.823 to .743) and OPS+ (139 to 99), hits (85 to 76), doubles (17 to 13), walks (22, none intentional, to 20, three intentional) and bWAR (2.3 to 1.6).

One knock against Carpenter is that he has played a lot of third base, but much of that came earlier in the season when David Freese was on the disabled list and before the team had full confidence in Carpenter at the keystone, a position at which he played just 18 major league innings last year. That has changed. Carpenter has started 53 of the Cardinals last 68 games at second, including 20 of their last 21. Also, for those who see the 27-year-old’s current .322/.403/.472 line in 327 plate appearances as a fluke, consider this: He has now hit .302/.380/.459 in 686 plate appearances in the major leagues.

Those still inclined to balk at Carpenter’s underdeveloped résumé should have no such qualms about Scutaro given his performance for the Giants down the stretch and in the postseason last year. Scutaro has been viewed in good standing as a desirable middle-infield option over the last half decade-plus.

Still, at least the fans have the top three candidates vying for the NL’s second base spot. In contrast, the NL outfield situation remains a mess. Carlos Beltran maintains a lead of more than a million votes, while Justin Upton and the injured Bryce Harper flesh out the current leaders. Upton has hit just .208/.322/.298 with three home runs since the end of April. Harper is an understandable pick given his hot start and star power, but he’s also a second-year player who has missed a month of the current campaign due to injury. Beltran has great triple-crown stats (.305-17-46), but he’s not drawing walks (just 16), hitting for non-homer power (just eight doubles) or playing good defense — all of which undermines those old-school stats.

Two men who need to be in this starting outfield are Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been gaining; he’s now a close fourth, up from seventh two weeks ago, and trails Harper by just more than 300,000 votes. Gomez, however, is way down in 11th, nearly a million votes away from a starting spot, having barely budged from his 12th place ranking two weeks ago. One could have a pretty good argument about who the third outfielder in the NL should be: Choo, Dexter Fowler, Domonic Brown, Andrew McCutchen, Gerrardo Parra, Jay Bruce, Hunter Pence are all in that mix with Beltran and Harper (though Fowler, and Parra, the latter of whom has to be written-in, are not in the top 12 of the NL voting). But I can see no argument against Gonzalez and Gomez as the top two, and it seems clear now that Gomez won’t be able to generate enough fan support for a starting spot.

43 comments
grothmann23
grothmann23

Cliff, you are the biggest Yankees homer I have ever read, for the first and last time. Your bias on the Markakis issue is an embarrassment. Go back to blogging about the Yanks, Mr. Mom. SI is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

DavidSchoenholtz
DavidSchoenholtz

I know he's missed a little time, but how is there not even a mention of Michael Cuddyer?  He's second in the National League in OPS - ahead of teammate Gonzalez.  The NL's starting outfield should be CarGo-Gomez-Cuddyer.

tylerflood7
tylerflood7

Because Joey Votto is a "more established" player he deserves to start over Goldschmidt? Neither Harper or Upton should start in the Outfield. And Segura should get the start at SS in place of Tulowitzki

KurtLudwick
KurtLudwick

Too bad those small-town teams like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles can't possibly compete against the juggernaut Baltimore market when its fans unconscionably, and quite uniquely, stuff the ballot box. If life were fair, some years we'd be able to overcome the chronic unfairness of the system and have All-Star teams dominated by, say, Yankees. ...ha! Don't hold your breath!

ZigHyman
ZigHyman

Hey Cliff, All fans stuff the ballot box. Don't just single out the O's fans!

noel5000
noel5000

I wrote in Yasiel Puig.  He's done a lot despite his small sample size.

oldtimeradiohome
oldtimeradiohome

The sad truth about voting for outfielders is probably the best outfielder isn't even on the ballot. I'm speaking about Geraldo Parra. There is no doubt he is one of the best outfielders in the NL. But its hard to vote for him, since he is not on the ballot. A pool of managers ended in saying if Parra is not selected, then the Giants Mgr is in deep trouble. Parra is still leading in assists, hitting over .300 he has 7 hr and over 25 RBI`S all coming out of the leadoff position. I also think Goldschmidt should be in first place over Votto. Just look at their stats, Goldie is hitting .319 has 19 HR and leading NL with 67 RBI. He is on pace for 40 hr and 140 rbi. i am a Dbacks fan, but look at the stats. Hell even Votto said on the record that Goldie deserves to be starter.

Dustparty
Dustparty

You're ignorant. Markakis is a gold glove outfielder. He leads the AL in right-field fielding percentage, bats .290 (.40 higher than Bautista) and .340 with RISP (better than Adam Jones). Do your homework next time there guy. The kid deserves to be an all-star.

CarlCurmudgeon
CarlCurmudgeon

Scutaro's and Carpenter's performances have eclipsed Brandon Phillips'.  His fewer hits and lower average weigh on his RBI in 2013.

There's also Brandon's obnoxious factor, especially when compared to the solid, quiet, professional class act that is Carpenter.  

My vote for Matt Carpenter, however, is on the basis of his performance alone.

cpridge
cpridge

I was gonna complain about these odd criticisms against Markakis, but it looks as if it has already been covered..  Just to feel satisfied:  Markakis is a much better hitter than Bautista, an incredible outfielder, and he is-I quote-"the most difficult player to strike out in the AL."

It's about time he gets some recognition.

nschively
nschively

How is Bautista any better than Markakis?  Bautista hits more home runs, but has a lower average (by 40 points, this year and historically) and strikes out more (almost twice as much this year).  Couple that with the fact that Markakis is the superior fielder.  This isn't as ludicrous as you make it sound; the only thing Bautista does "better" is hit home runs, strikeout, and walk.    

jimmyv448
jimmyv448

Markakis is simply one of the finest all-round outfielders in baseball. Year after year. He has a lifetime batting average of nearly 300 versus 250 for Bautista. Sure Bautista hits a few more home runs, but Nick easily makes up for that with his doubles. He is also superior defensively. It's frankly about time that fans are taking more notice of Markakis as he simply quietly goes about performing.

JeffMcculloch
JeffMcculloch

Lol!  The writer accuses the Oriole fans of stuffing the ballot box ie Markakis.  How many times have Yankee fans stuffed the ballot box?  Or Red Sox fans?  It seems they can't even get enough people to vote for their own 2nd baseman.  It's about time we see some Orioles in the All Star Game vs Yankees.  Seems as though the franchises are heading in opposite directions.  O's up, Yanks down.  

DarrellStanaford
DarrellStanaford

Second post selling against Phillips at 2nd. Phillips has driven in a ton of runs because he has a great average with runners in scoring position - wouldn't hurt to list that stat. His average is down after getting hit in the forearm but he is still coming thru in the clutch. Great team leader & all around role model who loves the game. One of the funnest players to watch.

dejama
dejama

Cliff how do you know that Orioles fans are "stuffing the ballot boxes"? Is there a way to look that up or is that just speculation on your part? Can Markakis not just be a popular player that the fans across the league want to see start? I'd rather see him over Bautista. Bautista isn't hitting even close to .300 & I speculate that his all or nothing power numbers aren't due to natural abilities. Markakis plays great defense with a cannon for an arm. He's a consistent contact hitter with a good eye, he hits to all fields, and can get on base which is evident by his positioning of 3rd or leadoff in a potent Orioles line-up.

LenS
LenS

To add a new twist to the Allstar game, why not do like football - each side have an offensive and a defensive team. Play your best defensive players in the field and your best hitters on offense. Of course, if warranted a player could play both defense and offense. This would get more players into the game and would pit one side's best defense against the other team's best offense.

HOFPufnstuf
HOFPufnstuf

Writers still want an all stat game. I want the all star game votto has done it for a few years so he gets the fan vote, rightly so. Writers always want tofind the next craig biggio, who for years, kept losing the starting nod to ryne sandberg, rightfully so as it turned out. F' WAR.

David15
David15

The article you link when accusing Orioles fans of ballot box stuffing is actually about the Giants fans ballot box stuffing. Solid reporting.

mitchryoung
mitchryoung

I'm getting so tired of these hack SI writers and their terrible articles. If you don't like fans voting for their favorite players then don't let the fans vote. This is just the most recent in a long list of articles SI has put out in recent years that been, for lack of a better word, bad. This is why you guys have to trick people into subscribing to your magazine. Nobody would pay for this crap.

Michael10
Michael10

There's no reason Beltran should not be in the starting outfield mix. As you mentioned, the "Triple Crown" stats, which are what most voters eyeball, are impressive -- he'll likely have 20 HRs and 60 RBI at the break, but with an average 50-70 points higher than guys like Upton or Brown. He's also highly visible in the Cardinals lineup this season and has played (and been popular) in enough places to have a much wider voting base than most players -- I would not be surprised if he is almost a default second/third OF choice for many voters leaguewide, rather than the beneficiary of blatant "homerism" like undeserving candidates such as Sandoval, Belt, and Crawford.

That said, the two CarGos ARE under represented in the voting -- especially compared to Harper, who will have played only a quarter season if he's back in time for the game, and Upton, a "one-trick pony" who seems to have forgotten even that trick since April.

I'd certainly be on board for an all-Carlos All-Star outfield; I'm sure it would be a first...

Charles58
Charles58

Did you notice how a large number of SF Giants players are in the running for several positions where they are not the performance or statistical leader at that position? It's because silicon valley programmers have created apps that allow you to vote over and over again on line automatically. The fan voting process is being abused at a level never seen before thanks to the ability to abuse the on line voting process. Just ridiculous. It makes the All-Star Game more of a sham than it already is.

jleland42
jleland42

"The key is for Oriole fans to stop stuffing the ballot boxes"?

Why should they? MLB's message is to vote often. They want a popularity vote and they're getting it. Otherwise they would have players or managers pick the roster.

Go O's!

Kalzy
Kalzy

The two Reds deserve starts. Period. Sabermetrics this...

slapdown
slapdown

@oldtimeradiohome Votto has real stats! Hr faces the best pitching in baseball as the Central division has Pirates(322ERA) and Cardinals (325) Remember teams play most of their games within their own divisions and Goldschmidth is great but he is facing weak asss pitching in the west. Central Cubs are at 393 ERA and the top team in the West has 372 ERA.

RobyGeorge
RobyGeorge

Nelson cruz is way better and leads the outfield in homeruns and rbi

slapdown
slapdown

@CarlCurmudgeon Carpenter hits softly! 5 HR's and weak asss D. he has not made many E's yet but I see him miss balls that BP makes often. 

Ken34
Ken34

@LenS You want to add MORE players to the ASG!?!

ndog
ndog

You act as if SI is in charge of the all star game.

Michael10
Michael10

@Charles58 I won't deny there's a heck of a voting turnout among SF fans that has a lot of players much higher on the ballot than they deserve to be, but if there's a way to get around voting rules, it's surely not exclusive to NorCal. Last I checked, the internet is available about everywhere -- and hacks as far away as Boston (Nomar in '99) figured out how to game the system years ago...

Michael10
Michael10

@Kalzy

Votto over Goldschmidt is tolerable -- as the writer mentions, both are playing at All-Star level, even if Votto has not been quite as impressive as Goldschmidt. Phillips, however, does not deserve to be on the roster, let alone start over the lesser-known players behind him in the voting -- and it doesn't take a sabermetrician to see that. It's pretty clear to anyone with a working knowledge of run production.

And, no, RBI is not the be-all, end-all run production stat; Allen Craig has 58 RBI to Phillips' 60 -- while hitting nearly 50 points better (.453 with RISP!) -- but no one is suggesting he'll be an All-Star. There are very few players in the league that couldn't drive in 50+ runs in Phillips' lineup position. In fact, Baker's insistence on batting him ahead of Jay Bruce will probably COST the Reds run production over the course of a full season (as will continuing to bat Cozart in the two-hole...)

Dustparty
Dustparty

Markakis has more hits and a higher batting avg. plus he's statistically the best fielder at his position. Cruz is good too though

Zivon
Zivon

Dude carpenter has a better average by like .50 and he contributes a ton more runs than Phillips. Not to mention how he contributes to wins. If you look than you will see carpenter has contributed to so many St. Louis wins its not even funny. H has been a huge factor in St. Louis's awesome record. He also ranked higher in almost all fantasy leagues. Like they said so many of his RBI's have come from votto and choo that without those he wouldn't even be considered for the all star game.

mitchryoung
mitchryoung

@ndog I keep showing up at SI's site because it's free. My point was that people would not pay for this sort of thing, which is why they have to trick people into subscribing, which has been documented. Look it up. Typical that you would focus on my comment instead of the horrible article above. 

Kalzy
Kalzy

@Michael10 @Kalzy  Cotzart no longer bats in the 2 hole. Phillips glove alone should start him over anyone in the league. You need to take your Huckelberry bare feet out of the Mississippi. Snap out of it. 

MLBJ526
MLBJ526

@Dustparty Nelson Cruz deserves it more than Bautista and Markakis.  If you're arguing for Markakis, HR: Cruz-20 Markakis-8, RBI: Cruz-60 Markakis-42, SB: Cruz-5 Markakis-0, not to mention Nelson Cruz's stellar defense with his cannon of an arm as well.

Markakis has .21 better average and only 17 more runs


Michael10
Michael10

@Kalzy @Michael10 Cozart batted second in the game before you posted this comment! Don't you even watch your own team? Over 80% of his plate appearances have come batting second in the lineup.

I'll take my feet out of the river when you take your head out of your two-hole...

O
O

@jimmyv448 

Typo... Gardner strikes out more..

O
O

@jimmyv448 

Markakis is comparable to Bret Gardner, without speed.  Sure he strikes out like, but covers less of the outfield than Bret and is no threat on the base paths.

jimmyv448
jimmyv448

Markakis is one of the best all-around outfielders in the game and one of the toughest players to strike out. Bautista strikes out way too much for his slight HR edge. He also can't touch Nick for extra base hits.