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By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor - Archive - Email
Filling out my All-Star ballot
The 2012 MLB All-Star Game takes place on July 10 in Kansas City.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball's All-Star balloting ended at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday and like the good baseball fan that I am, I got my picks in right before the deadline.

It's been mentioned before, but how much easier is it being able to make your picks online rather than having to punch those silly ballots you get at the ballpark? Perhaps it's just me, but they always seemed to be a pain in the neck.

Luckily, thanks to technology, you don't have to waste your time doing that now and you can just turn on your computer or your phone and bang it out like that.

I've even gotten my 6-year-old son into the act this year. although his picks seemed to lean heavily in the direction of the New York Yankees and Mets. So if you were wondering who it was who voted Josh Thole in as a starter, it was my son.

By the way, Tyler, your love for David Wright is killing everyone else in the family.

This year, since I was feeling wacky, I filled out two ballots. One based solely on merit and, two, to give a shout out to my fantasy team, which, by the way, if you saw the standings, really has no business even being associated with any type of All-Star Game.

Let's put it this way, Steve Schwarz I am not this season.

Anyway, the first ballot I filled out - we will call it the merit one - and the only one that matters for these purposes, went something like this:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1B PAUL KONERKO, CHICAGO: Konerko got off to a sizzling start and although he has tailed off some, he's still among league leaders in both average (.332) and on-base percentage (.410). Not to mention he's only committed one error this season. He's also a prime candidate for AL MVP through the first half for the AL Central-leading White Sox.

2B ROBINSON CANO, N.Y. YANKEES: Cano has struggled with RISP (.181) this season, but his play over the past few weeks has clearly cemented his status as one of best players in baseball. No other AL second baseman is even within 100 points of his .580 slugging percentage and he ranks eighth in the AL with 18 home runs. Plus he'll serve as captain for the AL Home Run Derby team.

SS ASDRUBAL CABRERA, CLEVELAND: Cabrera is not going to start this game with New York's Derek Jeter leading the voting by well over a million votes. Cabrera, though, has developed into the best all-around shortstop in the game. In addition to his tremendous defense, Cabrera is hitting .291 with 10 home runs, 37 RBI and 37 runs scored.

3B ADRIAN BELTRE, TEXAS: You probably could have gone with the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera here and nobody would have batted an eye, but Beltre gets the nod, primarily because of his glove. That's not to say he hasn't produced at the plate, where he is actually outhitting Cabrera by nearly 20 points. His defense, though, is what separates him.

OF JOSH HAMILTON, TEXAS: He may have cooled off after an unbelievable start, but he is still a Triple Crown threat, provided he stays healthy. And that, of course, is no given. With his pending free agency, Hamilton will be a huge story in the second half.

OF MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS: At age 20, Trout isn't on the ballot and won't be named a starter, but he should be. It's no surprise that his arrival coincided with the Angels' turnaround. And, oh, by the way, he's currently leading the AL in hitting at .345. Plus, he's not too shabby in the field either. His flat-out robbery of Baltimore's J.J. Hardy on Wednesday may be the best catch I have ever seen.

OF ADAM JONES, BALTIMORE: The Orioles knew just how special Jones was when they signed him to a long-term extension earlier in the year. He's more than lived up to that contract and is a big reason why the Orioles will still be relevant this season at the All-Star break.

C A.J. PIERZYNSKI, CHICAGO: The durable Pierzynski is having a career season from a power standpoint and should be rewarded. Recently voted baseball's most- hated player, Pierzynski is also a lock to catch 1,000 innings for the 11th consecutive season, a streak unmatched by any active catcher

DH DAVID ORTIZ, BOSTON: How can you name an All-Star Game DH in the AL and not have it be Ortiz, who this year is having one of his best seasons in some time, hitting .308 with 21 home runs, 53 RBI and 56 runs scored.

SP - CHRIS SALE, CHICAGO: The converted reliever has become the unquestioned leader of the White Sox staff. He hasn't lost since May 12 and leads the AL in ERA (2.27). The popular opinion seems to be that Detroit's Justin Verlander will get the nod, but why? Sale's team is ahead of Verlander's in the standings, plus he's a fresh face. Sale deserves the spot.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1B JOEY VOTTO, CINCINNATI: Easiest choice of anyone. Votto has been the best player in baseball this season and a big reason why the Reds are tops in the NL Central. His 1.109 OPS is off the charts and unlike the AL, there is not another first baseman in the NL who's even in the same stratosphere as Votto.

2B BRANDON PHILLIPS, CINCINNATI: A lot of people are leaning toward Houston's Jose Altuve and he is having a terrific season, but his numbers fall short when compared to Phillips, who has doubled him in production.

SS IAN DESMOND, WASHINGTON: There really isn't an overwhelming choice at shortstop in the NL. Starlin Castro's attitude bugs me, Jose Reyes hasn't been great and despite some terrific power numbers, Jed Lowrie is only hitting .262. So I went with Ian Desmond. The Nats have been one of the most consistent teams in the league this season and should be rewarded in Kansas City. Desmond has been the one constant in a Washington lineup who has endured a lot of injuries, hitting .276 with 13 home runs and eight stolen bases.

3B DAVID WRIGHT: Most people expected the Mets to lose over 100 games this season, but here we are nearing the All-Star break and they are in the hunt in the NL East. If you look at that lineup, you have no idea how that is, until you get to Wright, who ranks second in all of baseball in both batting average (.361) and OPS (1.028). His 96 hits, 50 runs and 49 RBI also lead all NL third basemen.

OF CARLOS BELTRAN: Beltran may have had the toughest job of anyone this year in trying to fill the enormous shoes left by Albert Pujols. Well, he's outplayed the three-time NL MVP, and the best compliment you can pay him is that you haven't even noticed Pujols is gone from St. Louis.

OF MELKY CABRERA, SAN FRANCISCO: Maybe last season's breakout season with the Kansas City Royals wasn't a fluke, as Cabrera leads the NL in hits this season and should return to Kauffman Stadium as an All-Star.

OF ANDREW MCCUTCHEN, PITTSBURGH: Perhaps the most underrated player in baseball, McCutchen is one of the biggest reasons why the Pirates are not only threatening to finish over .500 for the first time since 1992, but are right in the thick of the NL Central. He leads the team in almost every offensive category and is probably second only to Votto as the NL MVP of the first half.

C CARLOS RUIZ, PHILADELPHIA: It's been an awful season in Philadelphia, but one of the few bright spots has been Ruiz, who is by far having the best offensive season of his career. Heading into this weekend, he leads all of baseball with a .362 batting average, is third in on-base percentage (.429) and seventh in slugging (.588).

DH RYAN BRAUN: Braun is probably going to be voted into the game, but for our purposes we'll give him a DH spot. After an offseason that saw his steroid suspension overturned, the league's reigning MVP is on pace to have an even better season from a production standpoint than he did last season. But I still believe he took performance-enhancing drugs.

SP - R.A. DICKEY, N.Y. METS: Aside from a recent hiccup against the New York Yankees, the knuckleballer has been the best pitcher in baseball this season. The same guy who once served up six home runs in an inning, Dickey is tied for the major league lead with 11 wins. There are others you could choose in the NL. Washington's Stephen Strasburg, San Francisco's Matt Cain or even the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. But this event is for the fans, and has there been a better story in baseball through the first half than Dickey and his knuckleball?


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