Voting has concluded and the starters are in, but I will continue to put forth my opinion on who should have been chosen for this year's Summer Classic. Up next is American League Shortstop. Voting from the last published tally can be found here.
Excellent shortstops are the best defenders in the infield, combining speed, quick hands, and a strong arm to patrol the depths of the left side of the field. the candidates being voted on were good, but not many American League Shortstops are having monster seasons. Lets take a look at how everything panned out.
#1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees 4,407,982
Who says you can't get better with age. Jeter started this season off on a tear, and though he slowed down a bit, it was enough to propel him to another starting spot on an All Star squad. Let's go back to guess that player.
Player A: 36 G, 153 AB, 56 H, 9 2b, 5 HR, 13 BB, 19 K, 15 RBI, 2 SB, .366 AVG, .413 OBP, .523 SLG
Player B: 40 G, 175 AB, 42 H, 4 2b, 2 HR, 11 BB, 25 K, 10 RBI, 4 SB, .240 AVG, .293 OBP, .297 SLG
Player A is the Captain from before a mid-May off day on the 16th. At the time, Jeter led all of Major League Baseball in hits and was fourth in batting average. After that, the power numbers slipped dramatically, and he quite frankly stopped hitting. Much of this could be attributed to his batting average on balls in play. Below shows his BABIP from the first segment and then the second segment, respectively.
Player APlayer BIn the second quarter of the season, Jeter wasn't catching some of the breaks he was early on, which resulted in a significant drop in average. The Captain is still an integral part of a high powered New York Yankees offense, and his past pedigree may be what won him the starting nod over other qualified candidates. here are his numbers to this point.
76 G, 328 AB, 41 R, 98 H, 13 2b, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 6 SB, 24 BB, 44 SO, .299 AVG, .349 OBP, .402 SLG
Overall, these numbers are good, but I believe the simple fact that his is a major household name helped him gather the vote numbers he did.
#2 Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers 2,764,888
Elvis Andrus has made the American League All Star team as a reserve, but I think that with a more rounded stat sheet than Jeter, he should have won the starting nod. While he is a baseball generation younger than Jeter at only 23 years old, he has shown poise and maturity as he has improved his offensive game, posting a .307 average to this point in the season to couple with his mastery of glovework at the position. Andrus has the potential to be a cornerstone in a potent Texas Rangers lineup for a long time. Andrus' success this season thus far has been capitalizing on mistake pitches, really hitting the ball well on fastballs up in the zone. his average against those particular pitches is .398, which is unreal.
He has only managed a .237 clip on balls down in the zone, which could be due to his high ground ball rate on balls low in the zone. Almost 56% of balls he connects with down there are being pounded into the ground and less than half of those have snuck through as seeing eye grounders.
Elvis has shown off his speed as well, connecting on five triples and swiping sixteen bases. Let's look at his overall numbers.
77 G, 306 AB, 51 R, 94 H, 19 2b, 5 3b, 1 HR, 32 RBI, 16 SB, 36 BB, 40 SO, .307 AVG, .383 OBP, .412 SLG
What stands out to me here is that Andrus leads Jeter in some pretty major categories, most importantly, strikeout to walk ratio. The fact that Andrus has received almost as many free passes as K's has allowed him more opportunities to steal and really shows how he has matured at the plate. While he may not he hitting HRs, the extra base hits are there and he leads Jeter in slugging as well. If we went purely by numbers (not including fan vote numbers), Andrus should be the guy starting the All Star game with Jeter coming off the bench.
#3. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles 1,331,927
I wish I knew how this guy garnered over a million votes this year. Per usual, the power numbers are there for Hardy, but the average is a putrid .232. In order to be considered an All Star, you need to be good in every facet of the game, not just one. Hardy has displayed some high caliber defense at times this season, which is a very welcome addition to his other talents. Lets look at what Hardy has done successfully.
Hardy is a pure pull hitter now, absolutely annihilating hard stuff on the inside of the plate that he manages to get his hands through the zone quickly on.
That big red heat zone has resulted in a .400 AVG, .855 SLG, 1.255 OPS against the hard stuff. If you are a pitcher who thinks you can sneak one past Hardy on the inside, I would behoove you to reconsider. If you want to get him out, go with the soft stuff low and away, which seems to be Hardy's dead zone.
Offspeed pitches out here have resulted in a .140 AVG, .160 SLG, .333 OPS. Here are Hardy's stats to this point.
76 G, 326 AB, 39 R, 77 H, 15 2b, 2 3b, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 15 BB, 49 SO, .236 AVG, .270 OBP, .405 SLG
When you have an OBP under .300 for the first half, I don't think your name should even be in the conversation for an All Star appearance, but an admirable power output from Hardy, nonetheless.
#4. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians 1,063,137
Cabrera has been quietly building on a breakout 2011 campaign, and is well deserving of the All Star reserve spot he was given. He has been an offensive force for Cleveland and his fantasy baseball owners, ranking second among American League fantasy options at the year's thinnest position.
Our switch hitter on this list, Asdrubal has had some pretty even splits. While he has hit for a slightly better average versus lefties, he has managed to hit for slightly more power versus righties, resulting in almost equivalent OPS's from either side of the plate (.874 from the right and .873 from the left). His most success has come in no strike counts, where he has hit .354. Once the count gets to two strikes, he drops down to .268. The images below show the heat maps, respectively.
No StrikesTwo Strikes
Cabrera's stats speak for themselves.
69 G, 277 AB, 41 R, 83 H, 19 2b, 1 3b, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, 32 BB, 39 SO, .300 AVG, .379 OBP, .495 SLG
This is the highest slugging percentage of the group by far. Cabrera could have even been considered for the starting job, but I think he is just fine where he is right now.
Wild Card: Mike Aviles, Boston Red Sox
I'm surprised Aviles wasn't even in the conversation for an All Star bid, considering he leads all AL shortstops in RBI while pounding out more extra base hits than Jeter and Andrus. The average isn't quite there, and neither is the plate discipline, but he should have at least been mentioned. I did a piece on the Sox shortstop before the season started; click here to read.
1. Elvis Andrus
2. Asdrubal Cabrera
3. Derek Jeter
4. Mike Aviles
In the end, I believe the right three were chosen to represent the AL SS's in the All Star game, but the starter could easily have been different as the three seasons each had their own strengths.