Monday, July 5, 2010

The 2010 All-Snubbed Team

For the past two or three days, sportswriters and fans alike have been checking and re-checking the 2010 All-Star rosters to make sure they didn't read them wrong, and for good reason. Questionable selections on this year's roster include Omar Infante, Arthur Rhodes, CC Sabathia, John Buck, Jose Bautista, and David Ortiz, among others. Some of these guys didn't statistically deserve to be on the team, and others were selected because of the popularity of their name. In this space, I'm going to roster a team full of All-Star snubs from both leagues that I believe would have a great chance at beating either All-Star club in this game.

I will follow the same positional rules for the All-Star game except for Designated Hitter, but only because that position is so generalized. Another caveat will be that if a player has experience at other positions in recent years of his career that will help me fill out the team, I will definitely use him at that position to help me fill the needs of the team.

Disclaimer: I am writing this before the "Final Vote" selections have been made for each All-Star team, which means that the ten players on each ballot are very much in play for this team, regardless of whether or not they get voted on or not.

First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds 19/57/.312, .984 OPS (tops in NL)

Analysis: Easily the most egregious snub on either roster, Votto has become a household name thanks largely in part to his being snubbed, despite his outstanding production this season. He's having an MVP-caliber year, and about an hour before I started writing this, he hit yet another home run, this time against the Mets at Citi Field, the same field that makes Jason Bay look like Pablo Sandoval, circa 2010 (okay maybe not that bad). Those sounds you hear are Giants fans throwing themselves off of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bench: Paul Konerko (CWS), Adam Dunn (WSH)

Second Base: Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins 16/49/.271, .839 OPS

Analysis: It's pretty much a toss up between the remaining second basemen, but I chose to go with Dan Uggla, the poor man's Adam Dunn of second baseman. I realize he strikes out a lot, but not nearly as much as Rickie Weeks, who was my second choice and will consequently make this team; the one guy that won't make this team will be Kelly Johnson. After having an April line of 9/18/.313, he has come back down to Earth in the last two months with a paltry line of 4/18/.245. The defense might be lacking a bit at this position, so I'll include a defensive replacement on the bench, just to be safe.
Bench: Rickie Weeks (MIL), Ben Zobrist (TB)

Third Base: Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox 17/54/.299, 1.000 OPS

Analysis: Yeah, Youkilis only has a couple of games at the hot corner this year, but he played there almost half the time last season, so not only is he fantasy eligible for 3rd, he's eligible for this piece as well. It's nothing short of a travesty that this guy didn't make the All-Star team, but his snubbing has been completely overshadowed by the aforementioned Votto getting the shaft. Currently Youkilis is 11th in WAR, 4th in OPS, 5th in ISO, and 1st in runs scored among all major leaguers. He's the only reason Boston has stayed afloat despite the plague that seems to have hit the Red Sox; the only way things could get worse is if they all lost their first-born males.
Bench: Michael Young (TEX), Mark Reynolds (ARI)

Shortstop: Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers 4/28/.338 (51 GP), .889 OPS, 12 stolen bases, 1st in WAR among SS.

Analysis: He's been injured this year, but when he's out there, he's been nothing short of fantastic. Right now he's in the midst of an 8-game hitting streak in which he's batting .575 with 13 runs scored, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 2 steals. At times this year he has carried the Dodger offense while still showing off his cannon arm at shortstop. If he wasn't injured this year, and assuming he would have produced somewhere close to this (which is entirely possible), he most likely would have taken Jose Reyes' position on the team, but probably could not have challenged Hanley Ramirez for the starting spot. (Side-note regarding my bench selections: I've been a believer in Erick Aybar all season long, and that still remains true. Since May 18th, he is hitting .338 as the Angels' leadoff batter.)
Bench: Alex Gonzalez (TOR), Erick Aybar (LAA)

Catcher: Miguel Olivo, Colorado Rockies 11/39/.307, .901 OPS (higher than any other catcher on the All-Star team)

Analysis: It's a wonder why this guy isn't on the team. He has the highest OPS among major-league catchers and leads them all in WAR as well. Sure, he splits time behind the dish in Colorado, but he still has 212 at-bats this year, which more than qualifies him for all-star catching duties. If I was Jim Tracy, I'd seriously consider trying out Olivo at first base on some of his days off; with Todd Helton's corpse on first, it's really a no-lose situation. (On a side-note, I'm shocked that it took as long as it did for Mike Scoscia to figure out that he NEEDS to get Mike Napoli regular at-bats. If the Angels weren't going to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero, they should have just allowed Napoli to inherit the DH slot. Sure, he'll probably bat somewhere around .260, but he is fully capable of hitting 30 home runs as long as he's healthy. Currently he leads all catchers [and-ironically-his team] in home runs, and that's really only after Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, Hideki Matsui, and Kendry Morales had gotten injured to open up playing time for Napoli. I guess it's fitting that John Buck got the replacement spot on the team instead of the hometown guy.)
Bench: Mike Napoli (LAA), Geovany Soto (CHC)

Outfield: Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals 16/40/.278, .916 OPS, 5th among all outfielders

Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox 13/45/.303, 22 SB, .867 OPS

Josh Willingham, Washington Nationals 15/46/.281, .413 OBP, leads all outfielders

Analysis: So Rasmus has more home runs, runs scored, stolen bases, and RBI while maintaining a higher ISO, OPS, and SLG than his teammate Matt Holliday, who choked away Game 3 of the NLDS last season, grossly underperformed this season, and yet, made the All-Star team ahead of Rasmus. Holliday has a higher WAR than Rasmus because of the disparity in fielding, but still, Rasmus deserved the spot.

Can anyone tell me the only outfielder to have more than 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases while still batting .300 this year? Your answer should be Alex Rios. He is literally the only outfielder to do that this season (the only other players to currently have .300-10-10 are David Wright and Brandon Phillips), a season that the Blue Jays knew Rios was capable of, but were tired of waiting for. After a very mediocre 2009, Rios has rebounded quite nicely to help out the White Sox and fantasy owners alike.

Not only does Willingham lead outfielders in OBP, he is also 6th in WAR and third in OPS among outfielders, checking in at .926. He's helped the Nationals try to make some noise in the NL East, but it seems like that Washington club has gotten back to their sub-par ways, even with the promotion of Stephen Strasburg.

Bench: Nick Swisher (NYY), Aubrey Huff (SF), Brett Gardner (NYY), Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

Starting Lineup

1. Rafael Furcal SS
2. Alex Rios CF
3. Kevin Youkilis 3B
4. Joey Votto 1B
5. Josh Willingham LF
6. Miguel Olivo C
7. Adam Dunn DH
8. Dan Uggla 2B
9. Colby Rasmus RF

Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 8-3, 2.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 124:26 K:BB ratio in 108.2 IP

Analysis: This one for me is a no-brainer. Weaver has emerged as the ace that the Angels knew he could be, and this game is being played in his home stadium. His K/9 leads all major league starters at 10.27, and his xFIP of 3.26 ranks sixth in the league among starters. His ERA is a full run better than Phil Hughes, and a half run better than CC Sabathia, both of whom made the All-Star team ahead of Weaver. I guess the pinstripes cloud the minds of players, coaches, and fans alike.

Bench: Roy Oswalt (HOU), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Mat Latos (SD), Francisco Liriano (MIN), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Billy Wagner (ATL), Carlos Marmol (CHC), Hong-Chih Kuo (LAD), Heath Bell (SD), Luke Gregerson (SD), J.J. Putz (CWS)

Team Count: San Diego Padres-3, Los Angeles Dodgers-3, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-3, Chicago White Sox-3, New York Yankees-2, Washington Nationals-2, Chicago Cubs-2, Minnesota Twins-1, Seattle Mariners-1, Atlanta Braves-1, Tampa Bay Rays-1, Boston Red Sox-1, Texas Rangers-1, Colorado Rockies-1, San Francisco Giants-1, Pittsburgh Pirates-1, St. Louis Cardinals-1, Houston Astros-1, Toronto Blue Jays-1, Milwaukee Brewers-1, Arizona Diamondbacks-1, Florida Marlins-1, Cincinnati Reds-1.