Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I consider it almost a civic duty to vote for the All-Star Game. I've probably done it every year since I was seven and I see no reason to stop now just because I became a baseball writer.
Plus now you can vote online, so you don't have to waste time punching out those silly ballots you get at the ballpark. Although, I have heard from people over the past couple of days that they actually enjoy doing that. If you can do it online now, why even bother?
Anyway, I usually vote twice. Once purely on merit and one based on guys I like personally for whatever reason, be it the team I root for, or for someone doing particularly well on my fantasy squad. My team blows, by the way, in case you were wondering.
The first ballot I filled out, and the only one that matters for this purpose, is the merit one, which went something like this:
1B - Justin Morneau - Good to see that his lung injury was not as serious as first thought. The league's reigning MVP's average is down from last season, but his power numbers should come close to duplicating his 34-HR, 130-RBI output from a year ago.
2B - Placido Polanco - This guy is a run-scoring machine. Not to mention, he is also hitting well above .300. Polanco is often overlooked on a team with tremendous starting pitching, but he always seems to be in the middle of things offensively for the Tigers. He is probably the best defensively at his position in the AL as well.
3B - Alex Rodriguez - If I am the Yankees, I would not even give him the option of opting out after the season. Lock him up long term forever right now. Give him whatever he wants -- $25, $30 million a season -- it does not matter. Rodriguez's numbers are still amazing, considering he did next to nothing in the month of May.
SS - Derek Jeter - Despite having probably his worst defensive season, Jeter has been amazingly consistent at the plate this year. You are starting to hear 4,000 career hits as a possibility for him.
OF - Vladimir Guerrero - Imagine how good he would be if he actually had some protection in the lineup. Is there a more consistent all-around player year-in and year-out than Guerrero? The Angels are probably already the team to beat in the AL, but they will be a hands-down lock if they get another bat to complement Vlad.
OF - Magglio Ordonez - Not only has been tremendous for my fantasy team, but he could be on his way to an AL MVP award. Fully healthy for the first time since 2003, Ordonez is finally starting to live up to that mega contract he signed after the 2004 campaign.
OF - Ichiro Suzuki - Ho-Hum. Another effortless 200-hit season on the way. The big question with Ichiro is where is he going to play next season.
C - Jorge Posada - Even with A-Rod's incredible campaign, you will be hard- pressed to find someone who watches the Yanks on a regular basis tell you that Posada is not the MVP of this team. As crazy as this may sound, he is the most irreplaceable Yankee right now.
SP - Dan Haren - I know you don't get to vote for the starting pitcher, but if I was managing this game, this is the guy I want on the hill. Detroit manager Jim Leyland is skippering the club, so he will probably choose his guy, Justin Verlander. I can't really argue with that choice, either.
1B - Prince Fielder - I almost took this vote away when I saw that horrendous slide into second on Wednesday. What was that? Either way, this guy is mashing this season and a big reason why the Brewers are in first place.
2B - Chase Utley - He is the best second baseman in baseball. Period.
3B - Miguel Cabrera - Unfortunately, he is probably going to get beat out by the Mets' David Wright, but Cabrera deserves to the starter. You have to wonder if the Marlins would ever consider dangling him at the trade deadline.
SS - Jose Reyes - Toughest position for me to call. Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy has been excellent, but Reyes is one of the few guys who when I see at the plate while flipping through the channels I have to watch. I can do without his little celebration dances, though.
OF - Carlos Lee - Before the season I would have pegged him as the big free- agent signee most likely to fail. He has been tremendous, though, and is one of the few reasons to keep watching the Astros at this point.
OF - Matt Holliday - Coors Field or not, Holliday has established himself as one of the best power hitters in the NL. With him in the middle of that lineup, the Rox could be players in the NL West race all season.
OF - Ken Griffey Jr. - Nice to see the reaction Junior got in Seattle. It is even nicer to see the kind of numbers he is putting up this season while staying relatively healthy. With the Reds about to become big-time sellers at the trading deadline, you'd have to think he'd be able to help some contender down the stretch.
C - Russell Martin - Thankfully, he passed Paul Lo Duca, who might be my least favorite player in the league, early on in the voting. Martin has earned the spot, though, by hitting .294 with 49 RBI and 42 runs scored.
SP - Jake Peavy - He was my Cy Young chose prior to last season, but injuries hindered him the whole year. This year he is healthy and has been the best pitcher in the NL, bar-none.
Be sure to check out my blog by clicking here. I will be updating that in the week leading up to the All-Star break, as well as all the festivities surrounding the event once I arrive.