Tagged: All-Star Game

The Why am I Filling Out All-Stars on April 24th? Ballot

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is 83 days away, but never fear you can start voting for your favorite players today here.  You get 25 votes that gets bumped up to 35 if you log in with your MLB.com account.  Of course there are still paper ballots that can be found at every stadium and the MLB Fan Cave for you to fill out.  While I don’t fill out mine until I get a better grasp of who deserves it (like that ends up mattering) here’s what my ballot would look like on April 24th.

First Base

American League: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles Davis is off to a hot start for Baltimore. He’s hitting .382 with an AL-leading 7 home runs coming into the games on the 24th.  Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder have cases and Napoli would be my pick if he was on the ballot at catcher, not first base. (Runner-up: Prince Fielder, Tigers)

National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds The power numbers aren’t there, but Votto-matic is automatic at getting on base leading the league with 26 walks so far and a crazy .485 OBP.  The next highest walk total is 16 by David Wright. (Runner-up Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers)

Second Base

American League: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees I can make a case that Robinson Cano is the MVP of the American League right now.  Then you can make the case that it’s April 24th and that’s stupid. (Runner-up Ian Kinsler, Rangers)

National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds It must be nice for Phillips to just get to drive in OBP-machines Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo getting on base ahead of him all the time.  He leads NL second baseman in RBI and is tied for the lead in home runs.  Plus, he’s the best defender at the position in the league. (Runner-up Daniel Murphy, Mets)

Shortstop

American League: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics Lowrie has been quite a coup for Billy Beane’s boys.  Lowrie leads AL shortstops in runs, RBI, and batting average. (Runner-up: Jose Reyes, Blue Jays, I’m not joking either)

National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Why have the Rockies been surprising in 2013?  A healthy and hitting Troy Tulowitzki is a big part of it. He leads NL shortstops in home runs, RBI, and runs, while hitting .292. (Runner-up: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers)

Third Base

American League: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers The defending AL MVP is off to a quiet start, but is still among the league leaders in hits and is best among AL third sackers in batting average. (Runner-up: Evan Longoria, Rays)

National League: David Wright, New York Mets I really wanted to have NL batting leader Chris Johnson here, but Wright has had the overall better start to the season, especially on the basepaths.  There’s a lot of depth here right now with Todd Frazier, Pablo Sandoval, and Martin Prado off to solid starts.  (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)

Catcher

American League: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays Napoli not being on the ballot at catcher is Arencibia’s gain for now.  He leads the American League in home runs with eight after another one on Wednesday.  He’s my least likely from here to be on my actual ballot in a couple months.  (Runner-up: Carlos Santana, Indians)

National League: John Buck, New York Mets Let’s just sum up Buck’s start with this meme. (Runner-up: Evan Gattis, Braves, wait he’s not on the ballot?!?)

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 1.53.30 PM

Outfield

American League: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, and Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles These three have been the best all-around outfielders in the American League this season.  It’s not my fault that they’re all center fielders.  (Runners-up: Austin Jackson, Tigers and Alex Rios, White Sox)

National League: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals There is a ton of depth at National League outfield right now.  You could take the next four on my list and make a case they deserve it on to the squad.  Justin Upton has been hands-down the best hitter in the game so far this season, it’s ridiculous that he’s still on pace for 90+ home runs. (Runners-up: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, Dexter Fowler, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates)

Designated Hitter

American League: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians Reynolds has been a great find for Cleveland with seven home runs and 18 RBI, both are top ten in MLB right now.  (Runner-up: Travis Hafner, New York Yankees)

Who would you have on your All-Star ballot on release day?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Melky Cabrera Suspended 50 Games for Positive Testosterone Result

My jaw only drops in certain instances where what I’m seeing or hearing is absolutely unbelievable. Today, I was stopped in my tracks when the news of Melky Cabrera’s positive testosterone result came back, and the concurrent 50-game suspension handed down by MLB:

Before we get any farther, let me contextualize the blog – YES, I’m a Dodgers fan. And NO, I’m not happy that Melky is out for the rest of the year.

I have a steamy romance with baseball, and I was hoping this era was completely over after the Ryan Braun saga last season. Finding out PED use still goes on among the biggest names in the sport is like getting punched right in the balls, regardless of the jersey of the prognosticator.

And it’s even worse that the player in question straight up admitted to doing it. Basically, what Cabrera said when announcing the decision wouldn’t be appealed, was “Yeah, I cheated. Oops.”

The way I see it, Cabrera slapped the sport that made him famous (not to mention all the coaches, teammates and fans in San Francisco) right in the face. It was shocking, selfish and disappointing. But what does this mean for Cabrera, his team, the NL West, and baseball as a whole?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Cabrera screwed himself over. It’s a contract year, and he was sure to be one of the hottest commodities in the free agent market with his play over the last two seasons. Now, his future contract is entirely in doubt.

Will any team even take a flier on a guy who nonchalantly admitted to cheating during the only season he’s been a true super star? Probably. But he certainly won’t be paid well.

And now teams will hesitate to look at bringing in a guy who essentially abandoned his teammates in the heat of a playoff race. Someone who clearly cares more about his own statistics than the success of the entire entity that is the Giants.

Speaking of the Giants, they have held a slim lead in the National League West since about mid-July. Cabrera has been a huge part of that. We can close the book on Melky’s final line in 2012, because he’s suspended for the remainder of the regular season, plus some: .346 average, 11 homers, 60 RBI, 13 SB and good defense in the outfield. Not to mention he was leading the world in hits.

How can the Giants replace that kind of production? Even with Hunter Pence in the fold, the already inconsistent lineup now faces a major challenge. That being said, this 2012 version of the Giants is a much better team than the squad that won it all in 2010.

The Giants still have fantastic starting pitching, big bats in Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, and a seasoned manager. Though the Dodgers might be the team to beat on paper now, the Giants are still a legitimate contender. And if they get back and win a post season series (a very good chance, considering their pitching), Cabrera would be eligible to return to the team after five playoff games.

If the Giants want him back.

So…this happened. On a day that was capped off with such an incredible pitching performance, the Melky Cabrera suspension news is slightly buried. And that’s just how I like it.

Fans are sick and tired of players getting on the juice, getting caught, being suspended. It needs to end. It must end. Please make it end.

I guess all we can really do now is make fun of what has already gone down.

Hey Melky – Ryan Braun will take that All-Star Game MVP trophy if you don’t mind.

 

Tell us in the comments below – what do YOU think about Cabrera’s positive test and suspension? Don’t forget to FOLLOW @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Friday the 13th Special – Episode 20

We touch all the bases in this episode with All Star recaps, first half awards, and our predictions for what will happen in the second half. Tune in, especially if you like fish, because there’s a lot of talk about Trout.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Mapes vs. Jeremy Round Three: The Home Run Derby Draft

Alright. This is it, people. My long-awaited redemption in the Mapes vs. Jeremy challenge. I may have lost the jersey draft war. I may have lost the bobble war. But today, we take the voting out of YOUR hands. Just as the All-Star Game should.

Anyway, we will draft four players each out of the eight home run hitters who elected to participate in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby. For the uninformed, that means choosing from Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo (A.L.), as well as Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran and Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen (N.L.).

This is how the point system works – we are relying solely on moon shots generated from these swaggering men’s powerful swings. In the 1st round, one point will be awarded per home run. In the 2nd round, two points…3rd round, three points. Plus, a saucy little five-point bonus for drafting the winner.

For the sake of Babe Ruth, let’s get this thing started:

1st Pick: Prince Fielder, Tigers (Team Jeremy)

It’s hard to go against my boy Matt Kemp, and even harder to not piss off Mapes and take his boyfriend, Stanton. But my theory with the Home Run Derby is that the big boys will go absolutely crazy in the 1st round. And there isn’t much more power packed into any body in baseball than that of the Tigers’ Prince Fielder. I’m going to enjoy watching him launch balls out of Kaufman Stadium all night, and happily mark down my points to go with it. Prince has already won a Derby, so he knows what it takes. Besides, is there any cooler home run swing in the game?

2nd Pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (Team Mapes)

What is up all of these “may haves” in the intro? You DID lose the jersey draft war. You DID lose the bobble battle. You WILL lose the Home Run Derby slugfest. You alluded to it in your choice of Fielder, so I will not disappoint the 3U3D fan base. You weren’t on the podcast this week, so you didn’t hear that I was picking my “boyfriend” Stanton to win. I’ve seen him hit batting practice and it’s a thing of beauty. He’s young and chomping at the bit to make a name for himself on the national stage. The outfield Kauffman waterfalls are no big deal to Stanton. He’s used to water being sprayed when he homers because he sets off the home run sculpture in Miami all the time. He has the best raw power of any participant, plus who else this season has broken a scoreboard on a grand slam? No one. I get all excited just watching this.  (Editor’s Note: Stanton may be unable to participate with a sore knee, if he doesn’t then Mapes will get his replacement.)

Well looks like I’m going to end up with Pirates Andrew McCutchen instead.  He did have two home runs today, so looks like he is ready to go.  He also could be the N.L. MVP right now.  Was kind of hoping this would end up being Bryce Harper though.
3rd Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Team Mapes)

You took Fielder who won the Home Run Derby in 2009, so I’ll grab the other player that has a Derby championship trophy on his mantle. Cano’s swing is just absolutely beautiful and works in any ballpark. Plus, you have to love the story of his father, Jose, pitching to him. Worked once, don’t see why it can’t work again. Cano is a captain for a reason. He’s been on an absolute tear as of late with nine home runs since June 17th. Did I mention Cano crushed your 1st pick Prince Fielder 20-9 in two rounds last year? Take a look. Be careful, this video is long because he hit so many bombs last year.

4th Pick: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (Team Jeremy)

The raw power in this draft is unbelievable. I had a heck of a time trying to choose someone in this spot, considering all parties involved are mashers of epic proportions. In the end, I went with Joey Bats, also known as the Major League Baseball home run leader. Again. He’s on pace to approach 55 dingers and already had nearly 100 round trippers in 2010-2011 combined. Bautista said on MLB Network recently that he doesn’t try to hit home runs, he just tries to hit it hard somewhere. Well, when opposing pitchers make a mistake, that hard-hit ball usually lands in the upper deck. Imagine how many times that will happen in an event where the pitcher is purposely making a mistake on every single throw. Boomtown!

5th Pick: Mark Trumbo, Angels (Team Mapes)

Bautista doesn’t try to hit home runs? That’s not good in a competition where you’re trying to hit home runs. Which was probably why Joey Bats was eliminated in the 1st round last year with a paltry four homers. I’m going to the the master of the Trumbomb. Our friend Ricardo Marquez campaigned for him hard from the MLB Fan Cave and will be on the field shagging fly balls. I hope ESPN catches every reaction he makes when Trumbo puts one out. Trumbo has an effortless, uppercut swing that will play well in the Derby. I think I’ve picked the two strongest players in the competiton, they won’t wear down easily. Based on our picks, looks like we think Team Cano is going to win the overall title.

6th Pick: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (Team Jeremy)

It was a toss-up here for me between the two Carloses (Carli?). Both have sweet swings, but I’ll take the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols replacement. If the powers that be allow him to, Beltran could maybe take hacks from both sides of the plate, as he’s got a solid power stroke from either side. Don’t let the fact that he’s a little smaller than some of these other guys fool you. I’ve seen him put one out into Big Mac Land at Busch Stadium from the right side and into the upper deck from the left side. Did I mention Beltran started his career in Kansas City, so he’ll be playing in front of an assumedly friendly crowd? He could very well be the fan favorite coming into this, and I’m thrilled to have him on team Jeremy.

7th Pick: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (Team Mapes)

You fell right in to my trap. I didn’t want to root for Beltran, plus I thought you’d might be a sucker for your boy Matt Kemp. I’m a little worried that his power might dip a little bit from Coors Field to Kauffman Stadium, but I still think it’s a better risk than the player who has had five at-bats since May 13th. Kemp when healthy last season only had two home runs in the Derby, good enough for last place. Give me the Derby devil I don’t know over the Derby devil I do. Consider letting you have your favorite player a gift for beating you in our first two match-ups.

8th Pick: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (Team Jeremy)

And what a sweet trap it is! You realize you just let me take THE one and only Beast Mode with the very last pick in this draft? Yes, Kemp has only hit 12 homers this year, but remember he’s had about 15 at bats. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But Kemp has been out for a solid chunk of the first half, and all he wants to do is be good at baseball-related activities again. I don’t think he’ll win it, but he’ll definitely put up more than TWO bombs this year. The 2012 version of Matt Kemp is even better, when healthy, than last year’s 39-homer, version. This might be the greatest Mr. Irrelevant choice in drafting history if he goes deep into the contest.

I’ll tell you right now Jeremy.  CarGo will have more home runs than Matt Kemp.  Irrelevant sounds about right for that pick.

Who do you think will win the Home Run Derby battle?  Who wins the entire Home Run Derby?  Let us know!

-Jeremy Dorn (@JamblinMan) & Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

All-Star Rage: Jeremy’s Take

Look, there are a lot of things I hate about the MLB All-Star Game. The fact that it determines home field advantage in the World Series, even though fans vote. That each team has to have one representative, as if this is some high-fiving, everyone-gets-snacks-after-the-game Little League.

And many, many more. But usually my All-Star Rage doesn’t extend this deeply into my soul. Some things happened this year that are just inexcusable and you can blame the system, the fans, the PR Departments of certain teams, etc.

Whatever you want to do, that’s fine by me. But the fact remains: the National League will lose this year’s game.

Why? Because that’s what happens when you have David Wright on the bench.

That’s what happens when you have Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke left off the roster.

That’s what happens when your reserve outfield is slightly more talented than your starting outfield.

And that’s what happens when one of your “stud” closers is on the team, holding the spot of a much more reliable, relaxed guy who would actually be able to hold a lead in a pressure situation.

I promise – I won’t even get into the A.L. I won’t talk about the snubs of Josh Reddick and Josh Willingham. Or the blasphemy that is Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista starting over Mike Trout and Adam Jones. I won’t even point out that A.J. Pierzynski, the best overall catcher in the league from day ONE, isn’t even on the team.

And as much as I want to…I won’t mention the 2.2 million votes Giants fans cast for Freddy Sanchez, who hasn’t played an inning all season. Or that we were probably 12 hours of voting away from Brandon Crawford’s .230 average starting at shortstop for the National League.

Instead, I will focus on the guys who DID make it. Let’s talk snubs, shall we? And point out exactly why the National League is doomed for the 2012 All-Star Game:

1. Pablo Sandoval starting over David Wright

This is just straight ridiculous. I understand that Sandoval is popular in San Francisco. But Holy Toldeo. Wright has been the best third baseman on both sides of the ball in ALL of baseball in 2012. He should have won by a landslide. Instead, we get to watch a guy (very talented, no doubt) who is streaky, overweight and questionable on defense.

2. Dan Uggla starting over anyone

Uggla has power. Captain fantastic. How about the Astros’ (and All-Star reserve) Jose Altuve’s big numbers? Or Aaron Hill’s two cycles in one month? Both less popular names, for sure. But unless Uggla hits a big home run in the game, people should be kicking themselves for this choice.

3. Chipper Jones going to the Final Vote…

…against his own teammate, PLUS David Freese, PLUS Bryce Harper. I mean. My goodness, MLB. Is this your version of a cruel joke? The future first-ballot Hall of Famer needs to be on the N.L. roster, for multiple reasons. Yes, he’s in his final season and it’d be nice to see him there. But he’s hitting .294! When healthy, he’s still one of the best in the game. Now he has to split votes from a Braves fan base with Michael Bourn, and hope to beat out two of the most popular young players in baseball today in Freese and Harper. Ugh. Chipper better get the nod, people. Or kittens will be punted.

4. Buster Posey starting over Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree. Buster deserves to be in the All-Star Game. He’s been great for the Giants this year. But better than Molina for the Cardinals and Ruiz, one of the best hitters in baseball thus far, for the Phillies? Give me a break. Posey is a great player who can rake at the plate, plays solid defense and handles a pitching staff exceptionally well. And he’s STILL not as good as Molina in general, Chooch in 2012. That says a LOT about Molina and Ruiz.

5. Jonathan Papelbon on the team over Tyler Clippard

Mapes touched on this in his snub-o-meter as well. Papelbon has the star power, the intensity, the fastball, the confidence…wait, stop. Doesn’t he also have a penchant for blowing it in big situations? And isn’t Clippard having the better year anyway? Yes, and yes. The last guy on this entire All-Star pitching staff that I, as a fan of a National League team, want on the mound in the 9th inning with a 1-run lead? Papelbon.

Well, there you have it. A very mild version of the rage that has been swirling inside my head since the final rosters were announced. So, did I miss anything? Will the National League pull a miracle and win this game? Who else got snubbed? Comment below and let me know!

Also, don’t forget to follow Three Up, Three Down on Twitter @3u3d, and like us on Facebook!

– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)

The All-Star Game Snub-O-Meter

Another year, another All-Star Game announcement with the usual outrage.  There were many surprises for the 2012 all-star teams including Pablo Sandoval starting, plus Brian LaHair and Ian Desmond making the team.  I understand Ron Washington taking his guy in Matt Harrison, but I think there were better options, including everyone who ended up in the A.L. Final Vote.  For the Snub-O-Meter, I will not include any player that made the Final Vote.  P.S. #VoteChipper!

Johnny Cueto, Reds

In my opinion, the most egregious snub for the 2012 All-Star game.  Cueto is 4th in ERA in the National League and only trails R.A. Dickey in WAR among N.L. pitchers.  Cueto has the top ERA in the National League over the past two seasons and deserved to go over Jonathan Papelbon or Lance Lynn.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 10 of 10

Zack Greinke, Brewers

The other big name N.L. pitching snub and from my projected roster last week I had a feeling this was going to happen.  Greinke is 3rd in WAR behind Dickey and Cueto, but isn’t in the top 10 in either ERA or WHIP.  Looking deeper into the numbers though shows that Greinke has been great with an xFIP 2.72 and is top ten in K/9.  If the players didn’t vote in Lynn, he still would’ve been snubbed by Cueto.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 7 of 10

Brandon Phillips, Reds

Phillips has a case that he should be going to Kansas City, not just for his offensive numbers, but for being one of the top defensive players in the game.  Dan Uggla got the fan vote, while Jose Altuve was a well-deserving All-Star from the Astros.  Aaron Hill also has a case over Phillips, but still has a chance in the Final Vote.  Phillips got squeezed in a deeper than you think National League second base pool.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 3 of 10

Jed Lowrie, Astros

Lowrie’s case is tied into his better power numbers than other N.L. shortstops as he leads them in home runs and OPS.  Ian Desmond goes to K.C. over Lowrie as a 3rd shortstop.  Hard to make a case to have to Astros on the team.  I can’t believe that Desmond went as a 3rd SS over this next player as a utility player.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 3 of 10

Martin Prado, Braves

Why take Desmond who can only play one position over a guy who is versatile and has played the outfield, third base, second base, and first base over his career.  He’s definitely more worthy than actual backup first baseman Brian LaHair.  Prado is top ten in batting average, hits, and position player WAR in the National League.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 8 of 10

Tyler Clippard, Nationals

Player A: 34.1 IP, 39K, 1.83 ERA, 0.90 WHIP  Player B: 29.2 IP, 37K, 3.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP  Want to take a guess on who is who?  Player A is Tyler Clippard who has been the go-to guy in the bullpen for the Nats with the absence of Drew Storen, the implosion of Henry Rodriguez, and the expulsion of Brad Lidge.  Player B is Jonathan Papelbon who is going to Kansas City over Clippard.  It’s not Clippard’s fault that he wasn’t the closer for the saves the entire season.  The first-place Nationals have three All-Stars, while the last-place Phillies also have three All-Stars.  Makes no sense to me either.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 8 of 10

A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

I understand the picks of Matt Wieters for his defense and Joe Mauer for his offense at American League catcher, but Pierzynski is having the best overall year of any catcher in the A.L.  Pierzynski knows he’s unliked and that it played a factor into him not making it.  If only the fans hadn’t voted in Mike Napoli he might have had a chance.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 9 of 10

Josh Reddick, Athletics and Josh Willingham, Twins

I feel bad that these two get lumped together just cause of their first name, but oh well.  I thought Willingham was going to be Twins lone representative over Joe Mauer.  While Ryan Cook from the Athletics is deserving from the Oakland bullpen.  Here’s how it should’ve played out.  Pierzynski goes for Mauer, Willingham goes for Wieters, not sure why they need three catchers when two will suffice.  I can’t fault Mike Trout or Mark Trumbo going to the game over either of these two or the next player on this list.

Snub-O-Meter Rating:

Reddick: 4 of 10

Willingham: 6 of 10

Austin Jackson, Tigers

An injury probably cost Jackson his chance on the team, but he’s been no less deserving.  Jackson is top 5 in the American League in both batting average and on-base percentage.  He also plays a Gold Glove center field in spacious Comerica Park.  If a spot opens up, I could see Jackson being scooped up as a replacement.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 6 of 10

Jason Kipnis, Indians

Ian Kinsler has been solid this season for the Rangers, but I thought there were enough already on the squad.  Kipnis has been a great power-speed combo for the Indians and I believed he would make his first appearance.  The players voted Kinsler and Kipnis’ teammate Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop instead.  Can’t really hate on that too much.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 4 of 10

Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

Encarnacion was on the ballot as a designated hitter, but he’s less of one than David Ortiz or Adam Dunn who made the team are.  Encarnacion could fill-in at third base or first base.  His credentials are pretty amazing too.  5th in slugging, 6th in OPS, 3rd in runs created, 5th in RBI, and 5th in home runs.  That sure sounds like an All-Star to me.

Snub-O-Meter Rating: 10 of 10

Who were your biggest snubs for the All-Star Game?  Let me know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Projecting the NL All-Star Roster

Yesterday, I gave you my projected A.L. All-Star roster that can be found down below this post. Today with the final voting update being released for the National League, let’s see if I can figure out what the N.L. roster will look like. I’m really glad that Tony LaRussa retired and has a ton of time on his hands to figure out the roster, because this thing is pretty tough. Especially trying to put a Padres representative on the team.

Catcher

Starter: Buster Posey, Giants

Reserves: Yadier Molina, Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

This will be a close battle all the way to the end as Molina may still end up starting the game. Posey could be in danger of not making the game if not named the starter as Molina and Ruiz are the two clear-cut top catchers this season. LaRussa could decide that two catchers are enough and go with an extra back-up somewhere else.

First Base

Starter: Joey Votto, Reds

Reserve: Martin Prado, Braves

This is where I had to get creative. No offensive position has gone without a backup since Derrek Lee in 2005 for the N.L. In that game, Morgan Ensberg who was designated as a 3B moved over to replace Lee in the game. In 2002, Alfonso Soriano was the only 2B for the American League and Omar Vizquel switched over from SS to play 2B. There is precedent to not have a backup 1B and I don’t think there should be. The only one I can make a case for is the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be bad if he becomes Arizona’s lone representative over a deserving Wade Miley. Prado is a versatile player that plays outfield, third base, and first base for the Braves. He’s a deserving All-Star, but N.L. outfield is so deep (we’ll get to that soon) that this is a way to get Prado on the team. I’m still figuring out why there are 873,526 wasted votes on Ryan Howard who hasn’t played this season.

Second Base

Starter: Dan Uggla, Braves

Reserve: Jose Altuve, Astros

Uggla has fallen off hitting just .179 in the month of June, but Braves fans have continued to vote for him. He has a healthy lead on Brandon Phillips going into the final stage of voting. Altuve has been a find for the Astros hitting over .300 and being 5th in the league in hits. Phillips gets bumped to the Final Vote as the only infielder represented.

Shortstop

Starter: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

Reserve: Starlin Castro, Cubs

The injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki will allow Furcal to make his 3rd All-Star team in 13 seasons and it’s deserved. Furcal looked done after last season, but has bounced back to hit .287 and be solid atop the Cardinals lineup. Castro is the Cubs lone representative for the 2nd straight year. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old.

Third Base

Starter: David Wright, Mets

Reserves: Chipper Jones, Braves and David Freese, Cardinals

I’ve made it clear previously that I think that Chipper Jones should be starting the All-Star Game in his final season. Here’s my solution. The National League will need a designated hitter, so who better than Chipper Jones? He could have his moment like Cal Ripken did in 2001 and David Wright still gets to start at 3B like he deserves. I’m sure Chipper’s knees would also appreciate not having to play the field. Freese has been solid for the Cardinals as he’s top 10 in the league in HR’s and RBI. I’m sure LaRussa will bring him along after his postseason heroics in 2011.

Outfield

Starters: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, and Ryan Braun, Brewers

Reserves: Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

This is by far the deepest position in all of the Majors. Not making the team includes Michael Bourn, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence who have all been fantastic. Mike Trout was able to make my A.L. squad, but the deepness at the position here blocks Bryce Harper from making the initial squad at 19 years old. There is still a tight battle for the final starting spot between Braun and Cabrera, but both will make the team. Gonzalez and Stanton are being snubbed by voters, but will be the solo representatives for the Rockies and Marlins respectively. Ethier sneaks in the final outfield spot as he’s helped keep the Dodgers afloat in Matt Kemp’s absence. Kemp’s injury will hopefully open up an extra spot for Bourn, Holliday, or Pence.

Starting Pitcher

Starter: R.A. Dickey, Mets

Reserves: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto, Reds, James McDonald, Pirates, Lance Lynn, Cardinals, Chris Capuano, Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The battle to be the starting pitcher couldn’t be any closer between Dickey, Strasburg, and Cain. I just think that Dickey is such a wonderful story that it would be amazing to have him start the game, so I gave him the edge. My American League roster had eight starters, but there are so many options in the N.L. that I upped it to ten. Even that wasn’t enough as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke get snubbed. I believe that LaRussa will err on the side of the Cardinals and take Lance Lynn for the last pitching spot. Wade Miley is rightfully Arizona’s only representative.

Relief Pitcher

Reserves: Craig Kimbrel, Braves, Aroldis Chapman, Reds, and Huston Street, Padres

Kimbrel has been lights out all season. Chapman had been perfect up until recently, but they are the two fireballers that the senior circuit needs to close out the game. Street goes to the game because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a Padre on the roster. I couldn’t have Carlos Quentin take a spot from one of the outfielders, Chase Headley over David Freese, or have Yonder Alonso be the back-up 1B. Street missed time with an injury, but has a 1.50 ERA and 0.78 ERA when healthy this season.

Final Vote

Michael Bourn, Braves, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Brandon Phillips, Reds, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Bryce Harper, Nationals

When I originally wrote out my roster Harper making the Final Vote didn’t even cross my mind. Then I had an epiphany, there is no way MLB doesn’t put Harper in, just to stir up some excitement for it. There are great voting fan bases represented in this final vote and I sadly couldn’t put in Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels will hopefully make the team on the “pitcher pitching Sunday” rule. Bourn has been wonderful leading off the Braves lineup and is among the league leaders in WAR. Brandon Phillips might make the All-Star game as a starter still, but him being in the Final Vote let’s him use his social media skills to the fullest.

Team Breakdown

Cardinals-5

Dodgers and Braves-4

Giants and Reds-3

Mets, Nationals, and Pirates-2

Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, and Marlins-1

Unlike the American League, I feel like there are a ton of snubs on my National League team. Joel Hanrahan, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong, and Jed Lowrie just to name a few. Who would make your National League roster? Let me know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Sweet Sweet Episode 16

This week’s podcast hits on the week of baseball that wouldn’t be complete without a few Tommy John surgeries.  We also talk about our current National League All Star roster would be and complain about who’s still getting votes that shouldn’t.  The guys even come up with a nice All Star Skills Challenge that would be incredibly fun to watch. Take a listen and see if you agree!

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or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Should they have to play?

The MLB All-Star Game takes place every July and features the biggest names in the sport. Pinning them in a series of events culminating with the All-Star Game. The MLB All-Star Game is the only one of the four major sports that has any bearing on the postseason with the winner having home field advantage in the World Series. So when players choose not to compete it could have ramifications on the playoffs.

Many players, for various reason, have decided not to compete in the All-Star game and the activities that surround it. For instance, any pitcher who starts the last game before the ASG and is voted onto the team can not play in the game. I for one am a fan of this rule. A pitchers arm is comparable to a crystal bowl in that when it is functioning the right way and undamaged it is an amazing sight to see, but the smallest defect in it can ruin even the most pristine arm.

Last season Justin Verlander could not partake in the All-Star Game, despite being among the league leaders in votes for pitchers, because he had started the last game before the break.

The same can be said for players who refuse to partake in the Home Run Derby which can be argued is the most popular event during the break. Many players have said that participating in the Home Run Derby has ruined their swings for the rest of the season, and there are numbers to back this up. Look at Josh Hamilton’s second half of 2008. By the All Star Break he had slugged 22 home runs and had 95 RBIs. After his memorable first round in which he smashed the single round record by hitting 28 home runs, he went on to hit only 10 the rest of the season finishing with 32 home runs and 135 RBIs.

Major League Baseball changed the rules last year regarding the Home Run Derby by allowing a player captain to pick his league’s “team”. One player has been targeted by the American League’s captain, Robinson Cano, and he has refused to take part in the event. Josh Hamilton has been asked twice to take part and has turned down the offer, citing he does not want to mess with his swing.

This is not the first time he has turned down the offer to participate though. In 2009, during an injury riddled season, he did not want to take part. He was just coming off an injury when the All Star Game was to take place and he didn’t want to reinjure himself.

He would easily be the biggest draw to the American League team with what he did at Yankee Stadium in 2008 but with his free agency looming he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. He will be the biggest name this winter if he hits the market.

The “Perfect” National League All-Star Ballot

Unlike the American League ballot, the National League isn’t being dominated by any one team. Giants fans have rallied together though as the 2nd ballot release had Buster Posey pass Yadier Molina at catcher and Pablo Sandoval go from 4th to 2nd at third base. I even saw a #VoteBelt hashtag on Twitter last night. I get voting for your favorite team, but if you vote for Brandon Belt for the All-Star team, you don’t deserve to vote for the President of the United States in November. Can we make that happen?

As I did with the American League, I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.

Catcher

Mapes Pick: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

Bold statement alert: My top five catchers in the NL, Ruiz, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, A.J. Ellis, and Jonathan Lucroy (before he got hurt) deserve to start the All-Star Game over any catcher in the American League. I can’t discourage you to not vote for any of them, but I’m giving my edge to Chooch. The counting numbers between Posey, Molina, and Ruiz are all tight. Ruiz has the advantage in average and OPS on the other two and has been the Phillies offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out.

I love Brian McCann, he’s one of my favorite players and he’s a consistent All-Star caliber player, but in 2012 his numbers don’t stack up. I can’t argue against voting for anyone else. Unfortunately, I have to add Lucroy to the don’t vote list due to his injury, but he’s been great this year.

Enjoy this video from Gordon Mack of the MLB Fan Cave is support of Chooch for the All-Star Game.

Acceptable to Vote For: Buster Posey, Giants, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, and A.J. Ellis, Dodgers

Please Stop Voting For: Brian McCann, Braves and Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

First Base

Mapes Pick: Joey Votto, Reds

He was my N.L. MVP pick at the start of June and there is no doubt he is the best first baseman in the National League. Fans are easily getting this one right as Votto has 1.25 million more votes than 2nd place Lance Berkman.

Acceptable to Vote For: No one else

Please Stop Voting For: Everyone else

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Dan Uggla, Braves

This pick is BARELY over Jose Altuve of the Astros. They’re two different players so they’re hard to compare, but I think Uggla’s numbers are slightly better and he’s been more important to a better team. Altuve deserves to make the team as a reserve over well known names like Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks and will more than likely be Houston’s lone representative in K.C. I can’t go as far as saying don’t vote for Phillips and Omar Infante, but they haven’t been nearly as good as the first two. Rickie Weeks is hitting .166 this season and is 5th in the voting. What a waste of 642,184 votes.

Acceptable to Vote For: Jose Altuve, Astros

Please Stop Voting For: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Starlin Castro, Cubs

I might be penalizing Troy Tulowitzki too much for missing the last two weeks with an injury, but it’s not as if Castro hasn’t earned the starting spot. Castro is currently the only National League SS hitting over .300 and is 4th in the NL in hits and 5th in stolen bases. Tulowitzki has actually upped his voting lead on Cardinals Rafael Furcal since the last update. If he can come back this week and do what Tulo does, he’ll end up the starter.

Jimmy Rollins actually jumped into the top 5 since the first update. If someone can explain to me why that happened, I would be most appreciative. Phillies fans should be rallying around Carlos Ruiz, not Rollins. However, I guess Rollins is better than Alex Gonzalez who was 5th in the original release.

Acceptable to Vote For: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals and Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Please Stop Voting For: Jimmy Rollins, Philles, Jose Reyes, Marlins, and Alex Gonzalez, Brewers

6/14 Update: Troy Tulowitzki re-injured his groin on rehab and needs to be re-evaluated.  I’m moving him out of the “Acceptable to Vote For” area for now.  As pointed out in the comments where’s Jed Lowrie?  I had him and Ian Desmond just under that same area, but I have no problem with voting for either of them over Rollins, Reyes, and Gonzalez.  They’re both distantly behind Castro and Furcal though to me.

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Chipper Jones, Braves

No doubt my most controversial pick. I akin this to Cal Ripken’s final season where he was voted to start the All-Star Game. I believe that Jones deserves the same honor. David Wright is having a fantastic season as he is top 3 in average, OBP and OPS. Pablo Sandoval is a solid player, but missing that time with a broken hamate bone should knock him out of contention. He somehow made up enough ground to go from 4th to 2nd in the All-Star voting. David Freese has been on a tear all season and deserves to be there, I’m sure Tony LaRussa will make room for him. Third base is a deep position this year, but the Chip should get one last trip out of respect.

Acceptable to Vote For: David Wright, Mets and David Freese, Cardinals

Please Stop Voting For: Pablo Sandoval, Giants and Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, and Melky Cabrera, Giants

This is the toughest choice. I can make a great case for ten players to be in the top 3. Instead of telling you why not the other seven, I’ll tell you why these three. Beltran has been one of the best if not the best free agent pickup this season. Beltran leads the NL in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 3rd in slugging, 5th in total bases, and 6th in OPS. Hard to not have the best home run hitter in the league so far make the team.

Cabrera leads the NL in batting average, hits and triples, while being 3rd in runs scored and total bases. The Melk Man has delivered for the Giants as a spark plug for the offense.

Which brings me to Carlos Gonzalez. Who is egregiously 10th in the NL OF voting. I’m not sure what else CarGo needs to do to prove he belongs in Kansas City. He leads the NL in runs scored and total bases. He’s 2nd in the league in RBI, slugging, and home runs. Plus, is 3rd in OPS. I can’t figure out how there are nine players let alone nine outfielders that you can put ahead of him.

Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Giancarlo Stanton (not in the top 15?!?!) deserve some more love too. The Pirates are in first place and McCutchen has been fantastic, it’s not like Pirates fans have a lot of other guys they should be voting for too.

Ryan Braun was the toughest omission as he’s been great for the Brew Crew, this is the deepest position in either league. It will be interesting to see who LaRussa has to “snub” in this. I haven’t even gotten Michael Bourn who leads all NL outfielders in WAR or Andre Ethier who leads the league in RBI. Just incredible.

There’s also some guy name Bryce Harper you might have heard of. Unlike Mike Trout, who I had starting in the outfield for the AL, Harper gets blocked in the NL from the depth at the position. I could see him making a splash at the Home Run Derby though.

Should Matt Kemp be starting the game? Probably not. It’s hard to have a player that is going to have played half the games of some of the other players. It appears as if the fans will vote him in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kemp takes the break off for his hamstring and focuses on his Home Run Derby captainship. That hurts to say as Kemp had one of the greatest months in MLB history.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Michael Bourn, Braves, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Hunter Pence, Phillies

Please Stop Voting For: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Jason Heyward, Braves, Jay Bruce, Reds, Shane Victorino, Phillies, and Jon Jay, Cardinals

Who would crack your NL All-Star ballot? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)