The lowdown on All-Star selections
By Chris Ruddick
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It seems as if every year there are complaints when it comes to the All-Star Game. Talking about who was left out or who actually made the team is almost as much fun as the game itself, which by the way is still pretty stale even though "it counts".
This year is no exception. Neither of the batting leaders in either league were elected starters and the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra, who is second in the NL with a .361 average, is not even on a roster.
One of the best young pitchers to hit the scene in a while, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, was not selected to the AL team, but journeyman Mark Redman is on the club, due to the dumb rule that every team must be represented. I am sure people in Kansas City are honored to have him as their representative.
Seriously is he the best that the Royals have to offer?
So let's take a look at the starters for both leagues, as well as some of the players that should be there and some of the players who should feel very fortunate to be collecting an All-Star bonus check.
Ivan Rodriguez (C, DET) - Jumped past Boston's Jason Varitek in the last week to nail down his 11th starting assignment, breaking the mark of 10 that he had shared with Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza. Should not be there ahead of Minnesota's Joe Mauer, who will be a reserve despite hitting a league-leading .392, but is definitely better than Varitek.
David Ortiz (1B, BOS) - Let's hope Big Papi remembers to bring his glove to Pittsburgh. Ortiz has played sparingly in the field but without the designated hitter in the National League park the Red Sox had to slot him in as a 1B on the ballot. Last year's leading vote-getter, Ortiz becomes the first fan- elected Red Sox first baseman to start an All-Star Game since the Commissioner's Office returned voting to the fans in 1970.
Mark Loretta (2B, BOS) - Narrowly edged out New York's Robinson Cano in the last week. This is his second All-Star appearance, as he represented the Padres in 2004. He, like Ortiz, is also is the first Red Sox second baseman to start an All-Star Game since fan voting returned.
Derek Jeter (SS, NYY) - Is back in the Mid-Summer Classic after missing the event in 2005. Jeter, who is having an MVP-type caliber season, will be making his second start and seventh appearance as an All-Star. He and Bucky Dent (1980-81) are the only shortstops in team history to be elected by the fans.
Alex Rodriguez (3B, NYY) - Will be appearing in his 10th All-Star Game and will be starting for the ninth time in his career. Only Ken Griffey Jr. (12), Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez (11 each) have been fan-elected more among active players.
Manny Ramirez (OF, BOS) - The AL's leading vote-getter (3,101,161) for the first time in his career and was the only AL player to top three million votes. Has been fan-elected the last eight years.
Ichiro Suzuki (OF, SEA) - MLB's top overall vote-getter in fan balloting from 2001-03, Suzuki has been an All-Star in each of his first six years in the league.
Vladimir Guerrero (OF, ANA) - Becomes the first Angel to be fan-elected to three straight All-Star teams since Rod Carew made it six times with the Halos from 1979-84 and Reggie Jackson did it three times (1982-84). Will be playing in his seventh overall All-Star Game.
Paul Lo Duca (C, NYM) - Will be playing in his fourth consecutive All-Star Game for his third different club (LA, 2003-04; FLA, 2005). Joins Gary Carter and Mike Piazza as the only Met backstops to be elected to start behind the plate.
Albert Pujols (1B, STL) - Was on pace for a historic season before a strained oblique cost him nearly a month. Still the top vote-getter in the majors with 3,418,555 votes and continues to lead the league in RBI with 71.
Chase Utley (2B, PHI) - Becomes the third second baseman in club history to be fan-elected, joining fellow Phillies Manny Trillo in 1982 and Mariano Duncan in 1994.
David Wright (3B, NYM) - The Most Valuable Player in the National League through the first half of the season. Wright and his shortstop counterpart will be fixtures at this game for a long time to come. He is the first fan- elected third baseman in Mets history.
Jose Reyes (SS, NYM) - The most exciting player in baseball makes his first trip to the All-Star game and becomes this team's first shortstop since Buddy Harrelson in 1971 to be elected as a starter by the fans.
Jason Bay (OF, PIT) - The best player you have never heard of. As bad as the Pirates are you have to give their fans credit. They stuffed the box for Bay and had most of their starters near the top of their respective positions. His 2,635,930 votes were second only to Pujols in the NL. Bay joins Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke as the only other Pittsburgh outfielders to be fan-elected
Carlos Beltran (OF, NYM) - Enjoying a better second season in New York. Those boos that rained down on him on Opening Day and the first week of the season seem like a century ago. Has re-established himself as the best five-tool player in the game. The only other fan-elected Mets outfielders have been Dave Kingman and Darryl Strawberry.
Alfonso Soriano (OF, WAS) - MLB's leading vote-getter in 2004, Soriano will be starting his fourth All-Star game, but his first in the NL and his first in the OF.
LIKELY AL STARTER - Jose Contreras (CWS) - I cannot imagine manager Ozzie Guillen not picking one of his starters here. Johan Santana would be a good choice, as well, but you have to go with the guy that has not lost since August of last season. Guillen is wacky, though, maybe he will start Redman.
LIKELY NL STARTER - Brandon Webb (ARI) - New York's Tom Glavine probably deserves the assignment, but he is supposed to pitch on Sunday. Webb won his first eight decisions this year and through May 31, had a league-best 2.01 ERA. At that same time, he was putting together a club-record 30 straight scoreless innings over three starts. After going six starts without a win, Webb picked up a complete game win on Sunday to improve to 9-3 with a 2.72 ERA on the year.
Francisco Liriano (MIN) - How is this guy not on this team? You are telling me that Redman, who we will discuss again later, deserves to be an All-Star more than Liriano, who has been absolutely lights-out since joining the Twins' rotation.
Liriano will likely get voted in as the last player on the AL roster, but it should have never even come to that.
Mike Mussina (NYY) - Has been the backbone of the Yankees staff this season and could be on his way to his first 20-win campaign. Probably got squeezed due to the amount of Bombers already on the roster. He also is scheduled to pitch on Sunday, two days before the game.
Curt Schilling (BOS) - Pitching the Sunday before the All-Star break and has the same problem as Mussina with the amount of Red Sox on the squad.
Jason Giambi (NYY) - Too bad Joe Torre doesn't manage the team anymore. Instead it is Guillen, who took his own guys Paul Konerko and Jim Thome, ahead of the Giambino, who has hit over 50 home runs since last July.
Travis Hafner (CLE) - Will the Cleveland slugger ever get into this game? He was a glaring omission from last year's squad and it looks like he will be home watching this year too. He, like Liriano, is one of five AL players vying for the final spot, but there would be a bigger outcry this year if he in fact was the final player selected instead of Liriano.
Nomar Garciaparra (LOS) - Enjoying a resurgence in his first year with the Dodgers. Will probably be voted on as the final player in the National League, but who knows, stranger things have happened.
Carlos Delgado (NYM) - Tough position in the National League. Having a sensational season, but with Pujols, the Phillies' Ryan Howard and Garciaparra, there is just not enough room for Delgado.
Brandon Phillips (CIN) - Nobody in Cincinnati seems to be making a big stink about this, but the Reds have been one of the better stories in the league this season. So what does that get them? One lousy All-Star in Bronson Arroyo. I understand no Griffey and no Adam Dunn since the OF is loaded, but why no Phillips? He is hitting better than Florida's Dan Uggla, who was selected by the players, and both have 44 RBI.
Michael Barrett (CHC) - Catcher is tough position to get more than one reserve so Barrett is in a tough spot even though his numbers are better than the starter Lo Duca's.
Johnny Estrada (ARI) - An All-Star in 2004, Estrada is in the same boat as Barrett.
LEAST DESERVING AL ALL-STAR
Mark Redman (KAN) - Are you kidding me? I would have been happier if Mike Sweeney, who has spent most of the season on the disabled list, was chosen instead of Redman.
Three pitchers with at least 10 wins in the AL as of Sunday (Mussina, Schilling, Freddy Garcia) will all be home watching the game, but the 5-4 Redman and his 5.59 ERA will be at the game.
It was silly in 2003 when Lance Carter of the Devil Rays was selected and it is even worse this year. Something has to be done about the dumb rule that every team needs to be represented. Is the world going to end if a Kansas City Royal isn't in the All-Star Game?
Good thing for Gary Matthews Jr. that Redman was taken or he would have been a shoo-in for this award.
LEAST DESERVING NL ALL-STAR
Paul Lo Duca (NYM) - Lo Duca has been great behind the plate for the Mets this season, but All-Star great? I don't think so. Let's be honest,though, his inclusion is nowhere near as bad as Redman's.
At the time of the selection Lo Duca was hitting .288 with three homers and 25 RBI. Not bad numbers for a catcher, but Barrett (.300, 8 HR, 30 RBI) and Estrada (.317, 6 HR, 44 RBI) are both having better seasons and neither of those two players are on the team.
Milwaukee's Derrick Turnbow is a close second here. He does have 23 saves, but you know your team is in trouble when your closer is pitching to a 4.04 ERA. Would have been a fine choice had he been the only Brewer on the team, but Carlos Lee is already on the roster. Doesn't make any sense.