My All-Star Game ballot for the National League

The all-star voting in the National League isn’t as controversial as it is in the American League so I expect my picks to line up better with the current leaders, based on the latest results released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday. So here’s my ballot for the National League all-stars.

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
I don’t think there’s much of an argument here. Entering Sunday, Goldschmidt has a .358 average with 19 HR and 55 RBI. He’s been one of the best hitters in the majors this season — if not the best — and clearly deserves to get the start in the All-Star Game. And most voters seem to agree, as he leads the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez by nearly 1 million votes in the ballloting.

2B: Yunel Escobar, Washington Nationals
I think Escobar is having the best all-around season among the second-base candidates on the National League ballot — although he’s been playing third base this season — so I voted for him. He’s in fifth place in the balloting, though, with the Marlins’ Dee Gordon leading the pack, more than 300,000 votes ahead of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong in second place. Gordon is hitting .352 on the season, but that is largely due to the hot start he had this season; he’s hitting just .280 over the last month. He’s known for his speed so doesn’t provide any power for his team; he’s homerless this year and has just 17 RBI on the season. Escobar, on the other hand, has been heating up as the season progresses; he’s hitting .327 in the last month, including a .362 average in his last 15 games. I think Wong is more deserving than Gordon, but I still go with Escobar on my ballot.

SS: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals
Peralta is putting up some of the best offensive numbers of his career so far this season, with a line of .312/10/39, making him most deserving of getting the nod as the starter for the National League. He has more than a 1 million vote lead over Brandon Crawford, who’s having a breakout season for the defending champion Giants, hitting .282/9/42. It was a close call between the two, but Peralta has the slight edge for me with the better batting average.

3B: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
The Cubs’ Kris Bryant has been one of the most-talked-about players this season — and he’s having a good rookie season — but I went with Arenado at the position. Bryant famously spent the first couple weeks of the season at Triple-A, which hurts his case to be the starting third baseman in my opinion. As far as the voting goes, Arenado sits in fourth place, with Cardinal fans voting for Matt Carpenter, who has more than double the votes that Bryant, in second place has. Carpenter’s .295/8/33 line doesn’t hold up to Arenado’s .281/16/53 for me. Despite a slightly better average for Carpenter, Arenado’s home run and RBI totals give him the edge at the position.

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Posey leads Yadier Molina in the voting by just 400,000 votes, but he’s putting up much better offensive numbers than the St. Louis catcher. As is usually the case, Posey is one of the best offensive catchers in the game, with a .295, 10 HR and 41 RBI. Molina has the same average, but just 2 home runs and 24 RBI, so I think it’s hard to make the case for voting for him over Posey.

OF: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals; Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates; Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Harper and Stanton are no-brainers to start in the outfield, but Marte is admittedly not a common pick. My third outfielder was between him and teammate Andrew McCutchen, who currently sits in fifth place in the voting. They have similar numbers, but I gave the slight edge to Marte — who’s in 15th place according to the latest update — because McCutchen’s been there before and Marte is having a breakout year. Somehow, Stanton — who has 25 HR and 64 RBI — currently isn’t slated to start the game, currently fourth in the voting. The top three, according to the latest update, are Harper, Matt Holliday and Nori Aoki. Aoki only has about 70,000 more votes than Stanton. so he could still slip past third place. Aoki’s hitting .317 so he’s not having a bad year, but Stanton certainly deserves to start ahead of Aoki. I suspect Aoki is getting a bump in voting from the Royal fans stuffing the ballot boxes, as he is a former Royal. As for Holliday, he’s hitting .303/3/26, which isn’t exactly All-Star starter numbers, but he’s a Cardinal and Cardinal fans are voting heavily like the Royals fans are in the AL.

SP: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
While starting pitcher isn’t part of the fan ballot, I’ll include who I would vote for — the Nationals’ Scherzer. His last two games have been spectacular — a one-hit, 16 strikeout complete game followed by a no-hitter that would have been a perfect game if not for a HBP in the bottom of the ninth. But he is deserving based on all 14 starts he has made this season; he has a 1.76 ERA with a 0.80 WHIP and 123 strikeouts in 102.1 innings. If that’s not worthy of starting the All-Star Game, I don’t know what is.

So there’s my National League all-star ballot. Cardinal fans seem to be stuffing the ballot boxes a bit — but not to the extent that Roual fans are — and I’m going with one Cardinal on my ballot, as I did with the Royals on my AL ballot. Voting closes at the end of the day on July 2, and the final results are scheduled to be announced on July 5, so there’s still time to get deserving guys like Stanton in the starting lineup in Cincinnati on July 14.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

My All-Star Game ballot for the American League, how many Royals make the cut?

There’s been some controversy with this year’s all-star voting in the American League, with eight Royals currently leading their positions as of the most recent results released by Major League Baseball on Monday — including Omar Infante, who’s hitting .229 on the season entering Sunday, leading at 2B. The Royals do have the best record in the AL, but how many of their players actually deserve to start in the All-Star Game? Here’s my ballot:

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Cabrera is having a typical Miguel Cabrera season, hitting .342 with 15 HR and 51 RBI, but is nearly 500,000 votes shy of the Royals’ Eric Hosmer in all-star voting. Hosmer is having a fine season, hitting .296 with 8 HR and 38 RBI, but those numbers don’t compare to what Cabrera is doing. I don’t have a problem with Hosmer making the team as a reserve, but Cabrera should be the starting first basemen for the AL in Cincinnati on July 14.

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
The choice isn’t as clear-cut at this position as it was at first base, but it’s clearly not Infante. The defending MLB batting champ, Altuve is hitting .287, which is below his career average, with a handful of home runs and 17 steals. He’s one of the spark plugs of the Astros’ offense, being one of the few players on the roster who hits for a good average, and with his speed and baserunning ability, when he gets on base, he is able to manufacture runs. That helps put him ahead of Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis — who’s currently third in the voting — on my ballot. Yet Altuve sits 300,000 votes behind Infante.

SS: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
There’s no breakout star this season at shortstop — not surprising since it’s not typically a strong offensive position — and Derek Jeter’s retirement has opened up the voting at the position. I’m going with what I think is a bit of an off-the-beaten-path pick with Bogaerts, who isn’t even in the top five in the voting. I was tempted to go with either Toronto’s Jose Reyes or the Tigers’ Jose Iglesias, but Reyes has missed time with an injury and beyond his .323 average, Iglesias doesn’t do much offensively, with just 1 HR and 9 RBI on the season. Naturally, the Royals’ Alcides Escobar leads the pack — nearly 3 million more votes than second-place Iglesias — but his slash line of .275/2/26 puts him behind Bogaerts’ .285/3/27 for me.

3B: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson is having an impressive offensive season in his first season north of the border, hitting .303 with 17 HR and 46 RBI. He’s on pace to set new career highs in home runs and RBI, while he has bounced back nicely after hitting just .255 for the A’s in 2014. Donaldson needs to get more support from Canadians if he wants to get the starting nod at third because he trails Mike Moustakas — of the Royals, of course — by more than 1.6 million votes. Moustakas is hitting .325, but with 6 HR and 27 RBI, his overall production doesn’t match up with what Donaldson has done this season.

C: Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics
How can you note vote for Vogt? He’s hitting .293, with 13 HR and 51 RBI. Those are good numbers at this point of the season for any position, especially catcher. His 13 homers and 51 RBI in 67 games this season match his career totals in both categories prior to this year. He’s having a breakout season in his first full year in the majors and deserves to be behind the plate in the first inning of the All-Star Game. But he’s not likely to get that chance, sitting about 4 million votes shy of Kansas City backstop Salvador Perez, who’s having a good year himself, but his line of .280/11/30 puts him behind Vogt for me.

DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
This was a tough one for me to choose between Cruz or Alex Rodriguez, who’s having a surprisingly strong season for the Yankees. But I went with the straight-up numbers, and that gives Cruz the edge over A-Rod at .315/19/43 vs. .283/14/40. Both are in the top five in voting — Cruz is second, Rodriguez fifth — but the Royals’ Kendrys Morales sits atop the DH vote, leading Cruz by about half-a-million votes. At .286/8/45, Morales is up there with his stats, just not good enough compared to the numbers Cruz has put up.

OF: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals; Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
And we finally get to the first (and only) Royal on my ballot, Cain, as one of the three outfielders I picked. I think he’s worthy — at .291, 6 HR and 30 RBI — in a season when there aren’t as many standouts in the outfield as there are in other years. Jones is hitting .298/10/36 for Baltimore, earning a spot in my starting outfield, as he’s having one of his best offensive seasons in the majors. And then there’s Trout, who is having one of his typical seasons, hitting .301 with 18 HR and 41 RBI, making him a shoo-in to start in the game — although he’s second to Cain in voting, more than 600,00 votes behind. Jones currently sits in fifth place — on the outside looking in — behind Alex Gordon (.270/8/31) and Alex Rios (.236/1/9) — both Royals, not surprisingly — who sit third and fourth, respectively, in the outfield vote. At more than 2 million votes behind Gordon, Jones likely isn’t going to get the start.

SP: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
While starting pitcher isn’t part of the fan ballot, I’ll include who I would vote for — White Sox ace Sale. He may not have the best record among pitchers — the result of being on a bad team — but he is having an impressive season, with 119 strikeouts and a 2.74 ERA in his first 13 starts. He has made history in his last five starts, tying the record for most consecutive starts (since 1900) with at least 12 Ks, matching the mark set by a couple of Hall of Famers, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson (both officially entering the Hall next month as members of the Class of 2015).

So there you have it, my all-star ballot for the American League (my NL ballot can found here). It doesn’t match up well with where the latest voting update stands, but this list is full of more deserving players than most of the Royals who currently lead at their positions, and would be a better team to put on the field in Cincinnati. Voting closes at the end of the day on July 2, and the final results are scheduled to be announced on July 5, so there’s still time to get deserving guys like Cabrera and Vogt the starting spots that they deserve.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

One year later …

Today marks a year since I started this blog with my a short first post. Since then, I’ve written 89 posts — mostly about sports and technology, with some other random posts mixed in as well. When I started the blog, I wasn’t sure how long I would keep up with it, but it’s still going after 365 days. You can check out all of my posts here. And here’s to another year of the blog, including in the coming weeks a look at how my MLB predictions are looking around the halfway point of the season and a second year of 32 in 32ish, previewing all 32 NFL teams leading up to the season opener in September.

Can he do it? American Pharoah  goes for Triple Crown at Belmont 

If American Pharoah can beat the eight-horse field, he’ll be the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. Thirteen horses  since then have gone to Belmont with the chance to take that honor and all have failed. Will this year be any different? No, I don’t think it will be different. I’m going to go with Todd  Pletcher’s  Materiality to win the race, American Pharoah to place, and Frosted to show. I think the Triple Crown drought continues for another year.

American Pharoah continues quest for the Triple Crown at the Preakness

Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is the site of the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness, run two after the Kentucky Derby. Derby winner American Pharoah is set to compete in the eight-horse field — including Firing Line and Dortmund, who finished second and third at the Derby, respectively — as the Bob Baffert-trained horse continues the quest to become the first Triple Crown winner in more than a quarter-century.

American Pharoah is the morning-line favorite and seems to have a good chance at winning with a small field in the race. But American Pharoah drew the inside post, which presents a challenge — only one horse has won the Preakness from the No. 1 post since 1987. With a small field, though, I think he can overcome the starting position to win the race and head to the Belmont in three weeks with a shot at the Crown. American Pharoah, Firing Line and Drotmund were the three best horses in the Derby and I don’t see why they won’t be the same today, so I’ll pick them to finish in the same order that they did two weeks ago.

My shot-in-the-dark picks
Win: American Pharoah
Exacta: American Pharoah, Firing Line
Trifecta: American Pharoah, Firing Line, Dortmund
Superfecta: American Pharoah, Firing Line, Dortmund, Danzig Moon

The big sports Saturday, part 2: Fight of the Century — Mayweather-Pacquiao quick preview

After the Kentucky Derby and Saturday’s NBA and NHL playoff games, settle in, pay $100 and watch what is being billed as the Fight of the Century, five years (at least) in the making: Floyd “Money” Mayweather vs. Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao, in a fight for which each fighter is reportedly making more than $100 million. It’s a fight people have been wanting to see for years. And although it likely would have been a fighter fight if it happened several years ago, it’s now happening and it’s going to make a lot of money for the fighters and promoters. Here are my not-so-expert thoughts on Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Pacquiao is who most people, myself included, want to win because Mayweather isn’t exactly very likable, but unfortunately I just don’t see Manny getting the victory over undefeated (47-0) Floyd. Pac-Man is a couple years younger than Money, but he has been in 17 more fights (57-5-2), many of which have been tougher than Mayweather’s. At this point in their careers, I just think Mayweather is the better fighter and I don’t think Pacquiao can beat Floyd. I’m not convinced the fight will go the distance. Bet Mayweather.

If it was a singing contest, though, Pacquiao would have the edge:

The big sports Saturday, part 1: Kentucky Derby quick preview

It’s the first weekend in May, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Kentucky Derby. But, in addition to the ongoing NBA and NHL playoffs, tonight also features another big sporting event — what’s being billed as the Fight of the Century, Mayweather-Pacquiao. We’ll preview that in another post. Now, the Derby.

It’s horse racing’s biggest event annually and the highlight of Churchill Downs’ racing schedule. A big payday comes for the horse that wins the race, the first leg of the sport’s Triple Crown. The morning-line favorite is Bob Baffert-trained American Pharoah, winner of four of the five races in which the horse has run. Dortmund — also trained by Baffert — is the horse that seems to have the best chance of defeating American Pharoah to win the 1.25-mile race.

If I’m picking a winner straight-up and not worrying about wagers, odds or a payout, I see no reason not to go with American Pharoah. He’s the favorite for a reason. Looking for a bigger payout on a wager, though, I think Todd Pletcher’s Carpe Diem is going to finish in the top 3 and is a dark horse to potentially win. But I’ll go with American Pharoah. The question is does any of this year’s horses have what it takes to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978? We’ll find out within the next five weeks.

My shot-in-the-dark picks
Win: American Pharoah
Exacta: American Pharoah, Dortmund
Trifecta: American Pharoah, Dortmund, Carpe Diem
Superfecta: American Pharoah, Dortmund, Carpe Diem, Firing Line