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Began In '96

Tracking the Ballot: Week 2

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By Joe Schackman

This is week two of a new series examining the 2013 All-Star Ballot. The first piece can be found here. Remember this is not about predicting who will make the All-Star team.

After the first week, there are four changes to the lineups, all in the American League. That’s not a huge amount, but I was still surprised to see so many changes. I didn’t expect for numbers to fluctuate so much but its still early so even a few good games can really influence averages and such. Second base in the AL looks like the toughest spot to call, and could conceivably change every week from here on out.

Our 2013 All-Star Ballot, the week of May 19th:

American League:

Catcher: Joe Mauer

Right off the bat we get a change. A solid week helped Mauer climb just over Carlos Santana. His average is up to .351 and his OBP jumped more than 30 points this week to .431. Mauer’s a better defender than Santana, but has no where near the power. For now, though, its Mauer.

First Base: Chris Davis

Davis continues to hit the ball hard. He added two more home runs (12 total now) and continues to lead the league. Nick Swisher is in the mix and as the Indians heat up he could conceivably go with them.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia

This continues to be one of the hardest positions to choose. Ian Kinsler had a tough week and just went on the DL, so he is out of the mix for now. In his place, we have Dustin Pedroia just barely edging out Robinson Cano. Cano hit three homers this week, but Pedroia’s .341 average and .433 on-base percentage make up for his lack of slugging. He’s also playing better defense and has done more damage on the basepaths.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta

This change is mostly a result of Jed Lowrie’s recent struggles. Though Peralta’s .317/.380/.455 line is strong, Lowrie’s offense dropped big time across the board this past week. That on top of his poor defense gives Peralta the nod for now. 

Third base: Miguel Cabrera

No change here. Cabrera is the best hitter on the planet and may be putting up better numbers than last year’s MVP season. In fact he just hit his ninth and 10th home runs of the season as I sit here writing. Cabrera is just too good right now, despite tough competition from Evan Longoria and Manny Machado

Outfield: Mike Trout, Alex Gordon, Vernon Wells

Trout maintained his pace, but Crisp has officially fallen out of the race since getting back from a hamstring injury. He failed to get a hit during his first four games back last week.

Alex Gordon has seen his average and slugging spike this week so he stays in as well.

The newcomer is one of the season’s biggest surprises, Vernon Wells. He has 10 homers, played solid defense and has been a big part of the Yankees’ early-season success. However, it’s not clear how much regular playing time he’ll get once Curtis Granderson comes back from his injury.

Designated Hitter: Mark Reynolds

Reynolds is paid to do one thing, and that’s hit for power. He continues to do just that, and is leading the AL in homers at 12. Edwin Encarnacion is heating up this year and could get into the mix for this spot sometime soon. 

National League:

Catcher: Buster Posey

Posey’s power makes him the top catcher in the league. Yadier Molina has the high average and the strong defense, but the reigning NL MVP deserves the starting spot right now. A.J. Ellis has gotten himself into the conversation, but it’s hard to imagine him catching up to the NL’s two premier talents in Posey and Molina.

First Base: Joey Votto

The fact that Paul Goldschmidt is a legitimate contender to Joey Votto is a testament to how good of a year Goldschmidt is having. But Votto is nevertheless too complete of a ball player. He strikes out less, walks more, hits for a higher average and plays better defense. Goldschmidt does have him beat in the power department, with 12 homers and the NL’s highest slugging percentage. But that’s not enough to edge Votto.

Second base: Matt Carpenter

Carpenter continues to hold off Chase Utley. Utley hits for more power than him, but Carpenter has a higher average and OBP. He is also a better defender than the aging Utley. 

Shortstop: Jean Segura

Troy Tulowitzki has narrowed the gap, but it is still Segura, who added to his numbers this week. He now is hitting .364/.406/.580 with seven homers and 14 steals. Tulo bests Segura in both OBP and slugging, but Segura’s gaudy average and damage on the basepaths tops the Rockies shortstop. 

Third base: David Wright

It’s been a rough start to the year for the Mets, but not for their third baseman. He is putting up his usual strong offensive numbers and has stolen 10 bags. His defense hasn’t been great and has always been his achilles heel, but no other NL third baseman is doing much this year. 

Outfield: Justin Upton, Carlos Gomez, Shin Soo Choo

Not much change here. Justin Upton still leads the majors in home runs. Carlos Gomez has cooled off a bit, but his numbers are still very strong and he is easily among the three best outfielders in the National League. 

Choo keeps his spot as well, and is having a really fantastic year so far. His OBP is the second best in the majors (behind teammate Joey Votto), and his nine home runs give the Reds a serious power threat at the top of the lineup. Choo’s not as bad a defender as the numbers say because he is willingly playing out of position. He’s not a good defender just not -8.5 runs bad. 

Joe Schackman is an editor and co-founder of Began in ‘96