Running down the All Star possibilities for the Indians
By James Keene
June 23, 2013
I enjoy watching the All-Star game, mostly because it’s fun seeing a team comprised of players wearing their team’s jerseys.
I remember going to the All-Star game in 2009 when Cliff Lee started for the AL andGrady Sizemore received five at-bats in the 15 inning marathon, and it seemed like Joe Maddon was going to run out of relievers. However, although watching the game is fun, observing the choosing process is nothing short of frustrating.
First each team must be represented, which has led to some incredibly awkward All-Star selections over the years* and it also means many deserving players are left off the roster. Further, the fans tend to have absolutely no idea who should, or should not, be starting for their league. Thus it’s always a circus to attempt to guess who represents a team without an obvious candidate…like our 2013 Cleveland Indians.
That said, I’ve decided to take a look and determine who should, and should not, go to New York and represent the Indians:
Here are, in my estimation, the Tribe’s best candidates for the All-Star game this year: (Bold league leader, italic MLB leader BY POSITION, all stats going into play Friday):
Carlos Santana (CA)
.281/.388/.487 10 HR, 35 R, 32 RBI
Carlos has been one of the Tribe’s best players this year, and a candidate for best offensive catcher in the league (and was probably more deserving of a roster spot than Chris Perez last year). He is 3rd in the AL in batting average for catchers, 2nd in OBP, and leads in slugging, so he owns an excellent batting line. The only other catcher in the AL who has come close to Santana in hitting is the amazing Joe Mauer (MIN) who will probably be voted the starter in New York. Santana struggles behind the dish, but he makes up for it with his excellent bat. He will struggle to make the team as his best skill (walking and getting on base) may not be enough to overcome the need for every team to be represented.
Prediction: Deserving, but probably will not make it.
Jason Kipnis (2B)
.267/.344/.458 9 HR, 16 SB (5 CS), 15 2B
Kipnis started slow, but has had a solid year overall. He’s still stealing bases, currently tied with Minnesota’s Brian Dozier in both steals and being caught for second basemen thus far. However, Kipnis suffers from being in a second basemen’s league. Robinson Cano of the Yankees is assured the starting nod, while Boston’s Dustin Pedroia is more noticeable and a better player than Kipnis. Kipnis, like Santana, suffers from having much of his value come from walks (3rd most of AL second basemen) and while he does hit for power (his nine home runs are second only to Cano, and he’s tied for 3rd in doubles) he simply doesn’t have the name recognition of other players.
Prediction: A borderline player, misses the cut.
Justin Masterson (SP)
9-5 3.48 ERA, 108.2 IP, 110K, 2 CG, 2 SHO, 2.56 K/BB ratio, 3.56 BB/9, 9.11 K/9
Of the three candidates thus far, Masterson is by far the most likely to be chosen (and NOT because he has been the best player of the three). Why? Because teams nearly always have room for players on the starting staff, so usually when a team needs a representative on the All-Star roster the team’s best starter or reliever makes the roster. Masterson has arguably been the best starter on the Tribe staff. He’s 15th in the league in ERA (unadjusted) and leads the league in innings pitched (tied in the lead for shutouts and complete games). He’s struck out batters well (6th in the AL in K-rate) but doesn’t limit walks particularly well. He has been effective, a star, if not an ace, for the Tribe this year.
Prediction: Probably makes the roster, assuming he continues to pitch well.
Before the slump, Mark Reynolds seemed like a good candidate for the All-Star game, however since his batting average has tumbled (and he ceased hitting homeruns) he is no longer a viable candidate for the roster. His 14 homers are good, but his .307 OBP is not.
Michael Brantley is a fan favorite, but hits nowhere near enough to be considered for an All-Star spot for an outfielder. IfMichael Bourn hadn’t suffered an injury early in the year, he may be included, however much of his value is held in stealing bases and 11 SB is way too far off from Jacoby Ellsbury’s league leading 31 to make an impact.
Nick Swisher has made All-Star teams, but usually because he played in New York, not because he was the league’s best player at any position. Joe Smith has been extremely effective, but he is not the team’s closer and thus doesn’t stand out enough. Asdrubal Cabrera may have earned a roster spot considering he was heating up at the plate and is well known around the league, but I think his injury makes a selection unlikely.
To be fair, the All-Star Game is still a fairly long way off, and things could change. Santana or Kipnis could get on an offensive tear which could force the coaches to include them on the roster. Masterson could start slumping.
Baseball is a fickle sport, and anything can happen. However, as it stands, if it were up to me, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis would make the team together, however I have a feeling Santana will be on the outside looking in for the third year in a row. Kipnis is an excellent all around ball player who is underrated in national circles and I predict Justin Masterson ends up being the lone Tribe representative.
Men on base: .330 avg, .992 OPS--124 PA's
Men in scoring: .302 avg, 1.041 OPS--75 PA's
Brantley has done well there as well:
Men on base: .330/.798--127 PAs
Scoring: .345/.867--66 PA's
Santana has actually been a tad better in "clutch" situations, and has been much better overall.
Unfortunately, Masterson is the only one who probably has a real chance, and he probably wouldn't make it if every team didn't have to have one player.