MLB

American League Players Who Should Be Considered for a First Time All Star Spot

Yesterday, I jinxed players like Fernando Salas, who blew his first save last night, by including them in my list of guys that should be considered for first time All Star spots. Today, I turn my ability to curse players to the American League. Just like last time, these are all players who have never appeared in an All-Star game, but should get consideration in 2011. MLB released the voting for the American League yesterday afternoon, and six Yankees were leading their positions. You can probably guess there will be no pin stripers on my list.

C: Alex Avila, Tigers (.281, .349, .527). The young Tigers catcher has been the best offensive player at the position, but currently sits 3rd in voting behind someone who hasn’t even played (Mauer). Russell Martin will win the voting, and Avila should be the easy managerial selection.

1B: Casey Kotchman, Devil Rays (.361, .417, .479). Wanted to put Eric Hosmer here, but he probably hasn’t played enough yet (though I think he might be the best candidate on July 1st), and there are plenty of other good candidates, including Adam Lind and Justin Smoak. Kotchman doesn’t hit for as much power (only 2 home runs) but is getting on base over 40% of the time he comes up.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels (.322, .388, .520). This is a no-brainer. Kendrick currently has a higher BA, OBP and SLG than leading vote getter Robinson Cano and is the leading hitter at the position. You probably thought I was going to say Chris Getz.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (.306, .360, .534). It’s a disgrace that Jeter is leading this position with his .332 slugging percentage. I know that there aren’t the established names at the position, but that’s a perpetuating cycle. Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta are the two best shortstops this year, and one of them won’t get in. I’ll take Cabrera to make it.

3B: Wilson Betemit, Royals (.306, .370, .438). This one is more by default. A-Rod, Youk and Longoria will all be in consideration, and no first timer is making it here. But a nod to Betemit for being a good glue piece for the Royals (he’ll probably be replaced by Mike Moustakas at some point, but his play means the Royals don’t have to rush it).

LF: Alex Gordon, Royals (.285, .351, .489). The former top pick has battled injuries and has now successfully made the position switch to left field. He has been even better since moving to the lead0ff spot a few weeks ago. He is currently 7th among all AL outfielders in OPS, and would be the best (and an actual legitimate option–as I flashback to the Ken Harvey pick and weep) option for a Royals representative.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (.292, .360, .452). Ellsbury leads the AL in stolen bases at 19, though he’s been caught 6 times. He’s 5th in outfield voting right now, and would probably be the choice if the AL manager goes with a second centerfielder behind Granderson.

RF: Matt Joyce, Devil Rays (.361, .421, .621). Joyce currently has an OPS over 1.000, and is just being overshadowed by the great Jose Bautista year. Somehow, teammate Sam Fuld and Yankees legend Brett Gardner have more All-Star votes so far. Joyce should be an easy selection for the team.

DH: Travis Hafner, Indians (.345, .409, .549). Hafner never made an all-star team? He had two years with an OPS over 1.000 in his career and was top 10 in MVP voting twice. I know he is on the DL right now, and we don’t know when he will return, but if he comes back before the end of the month, I think he would be the easy choice. He should have been in before now.

SP: James Shields, Devil Rays (5-3, 2.15 ERA) Alexi Ogando, Rangers (5-0, 2.33 ERA), Michael Pineda, Mariners (6-2, 2.30 ERA), Gio Gonzalez, Athletics (5-3, 2.49 ERA). Shields has thrown 2 complete game shutouts, most in the AL, and he leads the league in strikeouts. He should be an easy choice. Ogando has gone from the bullpen last year to a starting role, and has continued his excellent performance.  You’ve got to figure that Beckett, Weaver, Sabathia, Haren, King Felix and Cahill  are probable choices for starters. Pineda and Gio are longer shots but can get consideration by continuing their performance for another month.

RP: Sergio Santos, White Sox (9 saves, 1.35 ERA), David Pauley, Mariners (0 saves, 0.81 ERA, 0.7 WHIP). Santos has the lowest ERA of any closer with more than 5 saves (just ahead of Neftali Feliz). Pauley is a journeyman who has been virtually unhittable so far this year, and should get a look if the AL is going to add any non-closers.

[photo via Getty]

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