Some may say that the MLB All-Star Game is merely a popularity contest which is always flooded with Yankees and Red Sox players. And to that I say … absolutely it’s a popularity contest, there’s no denying that.
When you put the vote in the hands of the fans, they are undoubtedly going to vote for the most popular player. The most recognizable players are the ones who receive the most press, hence the bevy of Red Sox and Yankees players starting at the Midsummer Classic.
While others might fill out their All-Star ballot purely based off name recognition and player reputation, I tend to go off of the “what have you done for me lately” approach … judging players on their first half results.
Looking back at my ballot from last year, it’s interesting to note there’s one player I voted for in back-to-back All-Star Games. So without further adieu, here is my All-Star Ballot for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez
Most experts predicted Fenway Park would be a breeding ground for Adrian Gonzalez, and if the first half is any indication of what’s to come, they’re certainly correct. Adrian Gonzalez has made the successful transition from National to American League and is thriving in his new digs with the Red Sox.
It’s not so much his RBI total that’s impressive, but that he’s been able to keep his batting average above .300 and it’s actually going higher as the season progresses. And his defensive ability at first base definitely helps swing some votes, too.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This one was easily the toughest vote out of all the position players. The crop of American League second baseman in the first half of 2011 was so even keel that it was tough to narrow it down to just one.
I don’t know if playing second base is just a thankless position or what, but I can’t recall hearing very much at all about Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist or Howie Kendrick this season. They’ve all had great first halves of the season and any one would be deserving of getting the nod at second base.
However, if I had to pick just one of them, it would be Dustin Pedroia, but only by the slimmest of margins.
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera
Alexei Ramirez is the dark horse in this category, but unfortunately Asdrubal Cabrera outshines Ramirez in virtually all offensive categories. There’s no question Alexei has been the better fielding shortstop and even the better baserunner, but all those extra home runs and stolen bases are just too much to ignore.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
It pains me to ever have to write down a name from the New York Yankees on my All-Star ballot, but this time it’s actually deserving. A-Rod has been head and shoulders the best third baseman in the American League this first half, and warrants a vote this time around.
Catcher: Alex Avila
As a Canadian, I’m really happy that Russell Martin is enjoying a career resurgence in New York, and as I mentioned earlier, it pains me to ever write down a Yankees name on my All-Star ballot, so I’m going with Alex Avila.
Don’t get me wrong, Avila has every right to start behind the plate at the Midsummer Classic, but I think this one is Russell Martin’s to lose. However, Martin’s recent injury woes just might help Avila gain the momentum he needs to slingshot past the Yankees backstop.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz
What ever happened to David Ortiz being a slow starter? I remember there were early season rumours last year insinuating the Red Sox might want to cut ties with Big Papi after he spent all of April and part of May below the Mendoza line.
David Ortiz stumbled out of the gates to begin the season, but started kicking it into high gear close to the end of April. Since then, he’s been on a tear and has shown no signs of letting up.
Outfield: Jose Bautista
There’s a reason why Jose Bautista has over 4 million All-Star votes for him, he’s simply one of the best players in the game right now. Given, his power numbers may have dropped off a bit as of late, but he continues to get on base and hit consistently above .300.
Jose Bautista fully deserves to start the All-Star Game for the American League squad, and maybe as the top vote-getter, he can have his preference of outfield spots over the two candidates below.
Outfield: Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson’s ability to suddenly hit left-handers has gone a long way to helping him become one of the elite outfielders in the American League. That coupled with his renewed power, Granderson is an easy choice for one of the other All-Star Game outfielder positions.
Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury
The third and final outfielder spot is a widely contested position, and perhaps if Josh Hamilton had more games under his belt in the first half, I’d be more inclined to write his name down.
Initially, I had Matt Joyce penciled in as my third outfielder, but I found myself wondering if perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner were more deserving of the spot instead. I wanted to try to find a way to keep Jacoby Ellsbury off my ballot, but I just couldn’t.
I’ve always thought that Ellsbury was just a one-trick pony who can swipe bases and hit for average, but much like Curtis Granderson, the power of the home run has made Jacoby all that much more dangerous.