Sorting out my AL All-Star ballot

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball is getting ready to unveil its All- Star rosters this weekend, so I figured it was time to fill out a ballot of my own.

It should be every baseball fan's duty to vote for the contest by the way. 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.

The last couple of years I have mentioned how much I like the fact that I am able to do it online. I always thought it was such a waste of time to punch out holes in those silly ballots you get at the ballpark.

I've heard from people, though, who actually like that aspect of it. I'm sure the people who chimed in aren't the ones who do the actual counting mind you. I have a feeling that the people who like going to the ballpark and punching out those little holes are the same people who still think the wild card was a bad idea and that there is no place for instant replay in baseball.

Justin Verlander has easily been the best pitcher in the league.
Quick story. I took my son to a Yankees game this year and he filled out a ballot. After punching about two names out, he looked at me and asked why we couldn't just do this on the computer? Even he gets it.

Anyway let's take a look at those who I think are the deserving All-Stars in the American League.


1B - ADRIAN GONZALEZ, BOSTON: Gonzo has been everything the Red Sox thought he would be and more. After a slow start, Gonzalez has separated himself from the pack in the AL and has been the MVP of the league in the first half. As we write this he leads all of baseball in not only average, but RBI, in addition to playing flawless in the field.

2B - ROBINSON CANO, NY YANKEES: Truth be told second base in the American League is not all that impressive this year, but Cano is still the best of a weak crop. His average has been down, but he is still on pace to hit 30 HR, knock in 100 and score around the same.

SS - ASDRUBAL CABRERA, CLEVELAND: There hasn't been a more surprising story this season than the Cleveland Indians' play in the first half and Cabrera is a big reason why. The slick-fielding shortstop had never hit more than six home runs in a season, but has 13 now, is hitting .292 and is closing in on his career-high RBI total.

3B - ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NY YANKEES: A-Rod still may be the player you love to hate, but he has quietly had a pretty solid season. Rodriguez slumped badly toward the end of April and all of May, but he has carried the Yankees at times offensively. His power numbers may not be what they once were, but he still appears headed for another 30 HR season. Not to mention he always seems to come through these days with the big hit.

OF - CURTIS GRANDERSON, NY YANKEES: Man what a job Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has done with Granderson. He came to New York with the knock being he couldn't hit lefties. Long adjusted something and since the final two months of last season all Granderson has done is hit lefties. Of his 21 home runs this season, nine of them have come versus southpaws, against whom he is hitting .261 on the year - 40+ points better than his career-average against them.

OF - JOSE BAUTISTA, TORONTO: For those of you who thought Bautista's season last year was an aberration, think again. The Blue Jays' slugger has picked up right where he left of last season and is starting to hear the tag of "best player in the game". He's near the top of the league in home runs again and although he'll start in the outfield this year, the Jays want him to play third base the rest of the year.

OF - JACOBY ELLSBURY, BOSTON: The criticism with Ellsbury has always been his ability to stay on the field. Well we are getting to see the type of player he can be when healthy. Ellsbury has been the spark plug atop the potent Red Sox lineup, hitting near .300, while leading the AL in stolen bases.

DH - DAVID ORTIZ, BOSTON: Remember when you were hearing the whispers of Big Papi being done and that the Red Sox were going to be DFAing him? Well the rumors of his demise were obviously premature because the big fella has been terrific this year, swatting 17 home runs and hitting .311. He may not be the feared left-handed bat he once was, but would you want to pitch to him in a big spot?

C - ALEX AVILA, DETROIT: People in Detroit worried last year that maybe Avila was not the catcher of the future they thought he would be, as he struggled mightily, hitting a mere .228 in 104 games. Avila has quieted his critics this year, though, and leads all AL catchers in slugging percentage (.541), batting average (.303) and RBI (45), while playing exceptionally well defensively.

SP - JUSTIN VERLANDER, DETROIT: You won't hear any complaints from Verlander if Avila starts, as the flame-throwing righty has taken to Twitter to get his catcher into the game. Verlander needs no help getting in, however. He has easily been the best pitcher in the league, winning his last eight decisions, including a no-hitter, while allowing two runs or less his last six times out. His 10 wins are tied with a bunch of others for the most in the league, his 124 strikeouts lead the AL and his 2.38 ERA is also among the league leaders. This is a no-brainer.

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