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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

2004 Sox-1918 American League All-Star Ballot 

Before I get to my selections, I'll describe my general philosophy in filling out an All-Star ballot. First of all, I never vote for write-ins (except for Albert Pujols his rookie season). To me, choosing a write-in is like choosing Ralph Nader for the presidency: it's a wasted vote. Second, a tie goes to the Mariner. If I can't determine the more deserving player between a Mariner and an enemy, the Mariner gets my vote for obvious reasons. Third, defense is important, particularly at shortstop, second base, outfield, and catcher. I'll vote for a (hypothetical) .275-hitting Mike Cameron over a .300-hitting Manny Ramirez (again, hypothetical) every time. Fourth, no player from my Most Hated Players list is eligible. Fifth, if a Mariner is on the Most Hated list, Most Hated-ness takes priority over Mariner-ness. Finally, I can make exceptions to my rules whenever I want, because they're my rules.

Here goes:


Leading vote-getter: Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit.
My vote: Rodriguez.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Victor Martinez, Cleveland; Jorge Posada, New York.

Offensively, all three of the catchers mentioned above are very close. Rodriguez is hitting .361, getting on base at a .396 clip, and slugging .532 with nine homers and 47 RBI. Posada measures at .272/.412/.538 with nine home runs and 30 RBI, while Martinez is hitting .312/.382/.563 with 10 HR's and 47 RBI. The difference is that Posada's a defensive liability, Martinez I've never seen play, and Pudge Rodriguez is one of my all-time favorite players. This one simply comes down to which man I'd rather see catch one game.

First Base

Leading vote-getter: Jason Giambi, New York.
My vote: Frank Thomas, Chicago.
You're an absolute idiot if you vote/voted for:Jason Giambi, New York.

First base is by far the easiest position to pick in the American League in 2004. Thomas is having the best offensive season in the league so far, putting up some serious numbers: .298/.462/.639, 17 HR, 43 RBI. Thomas, one of the best offensive players of the last decade, is having another Hall Of Fame season. Giambi, on the other hand, may not even be alive this year, having only appeared in 45 games due to injury and batting a weak .244.

Second Base

Leading vote-getter: Alfonso Soriano, Texas.
My vote: Ron Belliard, Cleveland.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Willie Harris, Chicago; Soriano.

Second base was the toughest position to choose in '04. In the past few seasons, either Soriano or Bret Boone has been having a monster season at the break, making the second base vote a no-brainer. Not so this year. Soriano, Harris, and Belliard are close in On Base plus Slugging (OPS), coming in at .787, .733, and .809 respectively. Soriano's bad defensive reputation and Harris's lack of power (zero homers) give the edge to Belliard, barely.

Third base

Leading vote-getter: Alex Rodriguez, New York.
My vote: Melvin Mora, Baltimore.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Rodriguez; Hank Blalock, Texas.

A-Rod and Blalock are having fine seasons, but Melvin Mora has been incredible. All he's doing is hitting .357/.446/.567 with 11 homers and 41 RBI. Mora's a great athlete to boot, playing several different positions well. Mora, the man with the quintuplets, needs to bee the American League's starting third baseman.


Leading vote-getter: Derek Jeter, New York.
My vote: Carlos Guillen, Detroit.
You're an absolute idiot if you vote/voted for: Jeter.

Carlos Guillen, playing in the hitters' graveyard known as Comerica Park in Detroit, is in the American League's top ten in runs scored (4th), triples (2nd), RBI (9th), total bases (3rd), batting average (9th), on-base average (10th), slugging average (4th), and OPS (6th). Oh, and he's one of the league's best shortstops defensively. Jeter, on the other hand, sucks. He's been one of the worst offensive players in the entire AL so far in 2004, and he's probably the worst defensive starting shortstop in the majors. Please make the right choice, ladies and gentlemen.


Leading vote-getters: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles California Anaheim; Manny Ramirez, Boston; Gary Sheffield, New York.
My votes: Guerrero; Ramirez; Ichiro, Seattle.
I wouldn't blame you for voting for: Gary Sheffield, New York; Matt Lawton, Cleveland; Hideki Matsui, New York.

Guerrero, batting .348/.395/.597, and Ramirez, at .343/.446/.652, shouldn't be left off anyone's ballot this year, and are deservedly the top two outfield vote-getters so far. I using my third vote for Ichiro even though his numbers (.330/.375/.446) don't quite match those of Sheffield (.307/.404/.494), Lawton (.331/.402/.492), or Matsui (.282/.388/.489). Ichiro gets my third pick because:
a) he's one of my favorite players.
b) Sheffield, Lawton, and Matsui aren't.
c) I want to see some NL baserunner get thrown out at the plate, and Ichiro presents the best chance of this happening.

And so goes my list of deserving All-Stars. You may notice that Thomas and Ramirez were selected despite their "Most Hated" status. In Thomas's case, I really don't hate him much anymore, and Ramirez is having too good of a season to ignore.

Remember to vote online at mlb.com, and to vote often.

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