The 2011 All-Star rosters were announced officially yesterday by means of an hour long special selection show on TBS: Very Funny and was sponsored by Taco Bell. The selection special attempted to add some flair to the announcement of the All-Star starters and reserves, but unfortunately it displayed that TBS is still clearly in it’s infancy in many ways that it broadcasts baseball. The analysts in the studio for the All-Star squad announcements, including Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Dennis Eckersley, had a difficult time keeping up with providing quick insights on most 2011 MLB All-Stars. Fortunately for those watching this provided some high humor with the announcement of the AMERICAN LEAGUE STARTING SHORTSTOP, FROM THE NEW YORK YANKEES, DEREK JETER. It’s not that Derek Jeter being elected an All-Star starter isn’t surprising, it’s simply just difficult to actually justify how he belongs in a line-up with the top eight position players (including DH) from the American League. Cal Ripken Jr. made mention of how he was continually voted as an All-Star starter well past his prime in reference to Derek Jeter’s selection, adding possibly his best insight of the afternoon.
Without further ado, here is the obligatory “(Declining Veteran Star X) over (Underrated Player Y) ??!!” Derek Jeter is washed up. This isn’t 1999, or even 2009. The fact is that the only justification he should be an All-Star this season is his career performance in previous years. He is hitting .260 with only 12 extra-base hits in 293 plate appearances. Don’t get me wrong, Derek Jeter is assured a future plaque in Cooperstown. He will reach 3,000 career hits and become the first Yankee to do so. It’s clear that this was taken into consideration when fans voted for him over more deserving shortstops such as Asdrubal Cabrera (the best all around shortstop in the junior circuit this season) or even former Indian Jhonny Peralta (the best offensive shortstop by most sabermetrical counts this year). Unfortunately Jeter is currently on a rehab assignment and it hasn’t been released whether he will be playing in the All-Star game in Phoenix a week from this Tuesday.
Veteran stars who have begun the inevitable decline in the twilight of their careers are commonplace in the starting lineups of the All-Star game every year, but given the first half performance of hometown hero Asdrubal Cabrera compared with the quicker than expected decline of the Yankee Clipper, its especially notable. Cabrera has been the leader of the most surprising division leader in baseball this season, in addition to playing stellar defense and consistently anchoring a lineup that at times includes many more veteran castaways (see: Duncan, Shelley and Kearns, Austin) and raw prospects (see: Chisenhall, Lonnie and Phelps, Cord) than any the Yankees have fielded.
For every mistake made by voters as to the starters of the All-Star Game, there are those decisions that the fans get right. Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, the top overall selection of the fans, broke Ken Griffey, Jr.’s all time fan voting record from 1994. He leads the American League in Home Runs and OPS, while third in batting average and second in runs scored. Furthermore, the fans selected the most prolific offensive performer at each position for both the American League and National League starters, with only a few exceptions. For the AL, along with Derek Jeter, Rangers OF Josh Hamilton, who has been plagued by injuries this season, seems to be riding on the laurels of being the reigning AL MVP. In the National League, those selected as starters were by far the most potent weapons at their respective positions with the exception of 3B. Cubs third basement Aramis Ramirez has more runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, and has hit for a higher batting average than chosen starter Placido Polanco from the Phillies. Furthermore, Ramirez has played on an equal level, if not better, defensively. A case could even be made for the immortal Chipper Jones to be more deserving of the starter’s position in the All-Star game. Oddly enough, Polanco is the only all-star from a Phillies infield that features two former NL MVP’s (Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins) as well as second basemen Chase Utley, who has hit for more home runs than any other player in the history of baseball whose last name begins with the letter ‘U’.
My anger over the snub of one of the top five most valuable players in the American League as a starter for the All-Star game is likely overblown. Even last year’s NL MVP, Joey Votto, had to be voted in by the fans to be an All-Star with the “Final Vote” last season. Furthermore, Asdrubal Cabrera has gone 1 – 8 from the plate the last two games with a stunning six strikeouts. Perhaps I spoke too soon.
In conclusion, what more could I say that hasn’t already been said in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bXrnjJ18Ew