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.