Now, it is time for the American League starting ballot:
Catcher: Alex Avila (DET) – This is an easy call. His +2.7 fWAR is almost a full win above Matt Wieters who ranks second among AL catchers. Avila is hitting .303/.373/.545 and leads all AL catchers with a wOBA of .395 and wRC+ of 151. His ISO of .242 also leads catchers. The only “catcher” with a higher average and on-base percentage is teammate Victor Martinez.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) – A deep position but an easy choice. Gonzalez could be the first-half MVP with his stat line of .361/.415/.611 and wOBA of .439 and wRC+ of 178. Among first basemen he ranks 1st in each of those categories except OBP where he ranks 2nd. He also leads all first baseman, by a large margin, in UZR with +7.4. Oh, and his 4.6 fWAR is tied for 2nd best in the Majors and just 0.1 behind the league leader.
Second Base: Ben Zobrist (TB) – Another deep position but this probably will not be a selection you see on most ballots but it is warranted. Zobrist is tied for 4th in the AL with +3.7 fWAR but he is tied with second baseman Dustin Pedroia. I profiled Zobrist over at DRaysBay and named him current team MVP. He is tied for the league lead in doubles (25) with Adrian Gonzalez, ranks 2nd among second basemen in homeruns (9), wRC+ (133), and ISO (.206), 1st in baserunning (+2.7) and extra-base hits (38), and is 3rd in SLUG (.474) and tied with Pedroia for 3rd in wOBA (.363). I give the nod to Zobrist for being the best 5-tool talent among a selection of deserving second basemen.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez (NYY) – He is tops among third basemen and tied with Zobrist and Pedroia for 4th highest fWAR with +3.7 and is almost a full win ahead of Kevin Youkilis who is 2nd. He leads all third basemen in wRC+ (146), AVGe, and SLUG, and has a stat line of .300/.3778/.513. Much to my surprise, his UZR was a ridiculous +6.9.
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta (DET) – Another close call here between Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez, and Peralta. Ramirez has the highest fWAR (2.8) but Peralta and Cabrera are right there with him (2.7). Ramirez is the better fielder and base runner among the three with Cabrera being the worst fielder (-5.0 UZR) and Peralta being the worst base runner (-1.7). But I chose Peralta because he was a +1.4 in the field and leads all shortstops in triple-slash categories, hitting .308/.358/.524 and leads in wOBA (.378) and wRC+ (139). His 12 homeruns ties him with Cabrera for the lead but Peralta has done it in almost 70 less plate appearances. This was a close race and I wouldn’t be upset if any of the three were named on a ballot.
Left Field: Matt Joyce (TB) – Another close call. Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .303/.365/.461 with a wOBA of .370, wRC+ of 131 and ranks 3rd among AL outfielders (4th if you count Zobrist) in fWAR with +3.1 and leads them all with 25 stolen bases. Joyce has him beat in all triple-slash categories (.310/.373/.533), wOBA (.387), wRC+ (149), and base running (+1.5). Joyce’s 2.5 fWAR might be below Ellsbury’s but Joyce has him beat in every category except stolen bases and UZR (+1.5 to +0.5).
Center Field: Curtis Granderson (NYY) – He ranks 2nd among outfielders with +4.0 fWAR and is tied for 2nd overall with 21 homeruns. He has been good in the field (+1.3 UZR) and on the bases (+1.8 Bsr). He is also only one of two AL outfielders to have a wOBA of .400. He easily belongs here.
Right Field: Jose Bautista (TOR) – He is the current Major League leader in fWAR (4.7), homeruns (23), wOBA (.472), wRC+ (205), OBP (.468), SLUG (.655), and he’s hitting .325 and is a +2.3 base runner. Need I say more?
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (BOS) – I find it ridiculous that we actually vote for a DH, especially when there is not one to vote for in the National League but Ortiz may have made the team even if there was no DH voting. He is hitting .311/.391/.581 and leads all DHs in wOBA (.419) and wRC+ (.165). His 17 homeruns are almost double the next closest DH and his 2.6 fWAR is almost a full win ahead of the 2nd place DH. Easy call here.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (DET) – This is yet another one that I struggled with. Jered Weaver leads the league in fWAR (4.0) and FIP (2.46), and is 2nd in ERA (1.97) and innings pitched (123.1) and is highly deserving to be the starter and I may be wrong in naming Verlander the starter but Verlander leads the league in innings pitched (128.2) and strikeouts (124), places 2nd in fWAR (3.6) and xFIP (2.94), 3rd in K/BB (4.59), and 4th in ERA (2.36), FIP (2.83), and K/9 (8.67). The deciding factor to me was the teams they faced. Verlander had to face the two best offensive teams, New York and Boston, twice while Weaver only faced them once and Weaver has faced Oakland, Seattle, and Minnesota, a/k/a the three worst offensive teams, more than Verlander has.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Avila, Alex Rodriguez, Alexei Ramirez, All-Star Game, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ben Zobrist, Curtis Granderson, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jered Weaver, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis, Matt Joyce, Matt Wieters, Victor Martinez