Projecting the 2010 AL All-Star team

7 Comments

With rosters having been expanded back in April, both All-Star teams this year will have 21 position players and 13 pitchers. Let’s try and break it down, first with the AL and then tomorrow with the NL.
Catcher
Lock: Joe Mauer
Possibilities: Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, John Buck, Kurt Suzuki
Posada is playing as well as ever, with a .275/.348/.600 line to date. However, he’s taken part in just 42 games and started at catcher in only 25 of those. Plus, manager Joe Girardi may figure it’s best for the Yankees if Posada gets three full days off rather than taking part in the All-Star festivities. That might make Martinez the favorite here.
First base
Locks: Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera
Possibilities: Kevin Youkilis, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Billy Butler
Morneau, Cabrera and Youkilis rank first, second and third, respectively, in the AL in OPS. I think that makes Youkilis close to a lock, particularly with the DH available. The AL could even go with a fourth first baseman, probably Konerko. He ranks sixth in OPS and third in homers.
Teixeira is listed simply because he might yet claim the fan balloting over Morneau. Still, that ship has likely sailed.
Second base
Lock: Robinson Cano
Possibilities: Dustin Pedroia, Ty Wigginton, Ben Zobrist, Orlando Hudson, Howie Kendrick
Pedroia’s recent rebound has given him the third-best numbers among AL second basemen, behind Cano and Wigginton. Wigginton is the obvious choice to represent the Orioles, though actually sticking him at second base in the All-Star Game would be a mistake. Really more of a corner infielder, he’s given back a lot of his offensive value while being asked to fill in for Brian Roberts at second.
Third base
Lock: Evan Longoria
Possibilities: Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, Michael Young
Among AL third basemen, Longoria, Beltre and Bautista rank first, second and third, respectively, in both OPS and RBI. A-Rod seemed to be surging a few weeks ago, but he’s struggling since retuning from a hip injury and is down to .277/.349/.459 for the season. Still, he is A-Rod and he probably deserves to go.
Shortstop
Lock: Derek Jeter
Possibilities: Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Elvis Andrus
Gonzalez’s 802 OPS is easily tops among AL shortstops, with Jeter (760) and Scutaro (742) next in line. Andrus, the best fielder in the group, is at 681, but his 360 OPS is the best in the league and he’s swiped 19 bases. He’d be a more worthy choice than Scutaro if the team carries three shortstops.
Outfield
Lock: Ichiro Suzuki
Possibilites: Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Torii Hunter, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Rios, Nelson Cruz, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, David DeJesus, Luke Scott, Delmon Young, Shin-Soo Choo, Brennan Boesch
Here’s where it gets messy. Crawford and Hamilton are currently second and third in the balloting and both deserve to go anyway, so they’re close to locks. Cruz has been the AL’s best outfielder when healthy, but he’s played in just 32 of 69 games. That would seem to rule him out, but he’s fourth in the balloting, and since Hamilton seems likely to be picked anyway, maybe the fans will make even more of a push to get him in.
Hunter and Rios would seem to be the best bets beyond Ichiro, Crawford and Hamilton. Hunter, who is fourth among AL outfielders in OPS, could conceivably be the only Angel on the team. Rios is second on the OPS list behind Hamilton. Ordonez is third, but he doesn’t have the sexy power numbers.
Choo isn’t having a stellar year, but he’s the obvious choice to represent the Indians. DeJesus, with his 892 OPS, actually is having an All-Star caliber year, and he could be the Royals’ rep, though Joakim Soria and Butler are also deserving.
DH
Lock: Vladimir Guerrero
Possibilities: David Ortiz, Jose Guillen
It’s possible Ortiz will go, maybe as the fan-balloting pick for the last roster spot. Still, he can’t be chosen over a third first baseman. Guillen would only be considered as the long Royal, and there are several better choices there.
Pitcher
SP possibilities: David Price, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee, Phil Hughes, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Jered Weaver, Jeff Niemann, Francisco Liriano, Colby Lewis, Ricky Romero, John Danks, Shawn Marcum, Felix Hernandez, Carl Pavano, Zack Greinke
RP possibilities: Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz, Jon Rauch, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Joel Zumaya, Matt Guerrier, Matt Thornton, Scott Downs, Darren Oliver
Of course, so much of this will come down to who pitches the final Sunday before the game. Several starting pitchers could be taken out of the running then.
The relievers are easier to figure. Rivera is a lock, and Valverde seems on his way, too. I listed the three lefties last. It’d make sense for the team to carry at least one of them, particularly since there are few closers having extraordinary seasons.
OK, it’s guessing time…
The 2010 AL All-Stars
Lineup

RF Ichiro Suzuki
SS Derek Jeter
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
DH Vladimir Guerrero
2B Robinson Cano
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Evan Longoria
LF Carl Crawford
Reserves
C Victor Martinez
1B Miguel Cabrera
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Dustin Pedroia
2B Ty Wigginton
3B Alex Rodriguez
3B Jose Bautista
SS Alex Gonzalez
OF Torii Hunter
OF Alex Rios
OF David DeJesus
OF Shin-Soo Choo
Pitchers
David Price
Clay Buchholz
Jon Lester
Cliff Lee
Phil Hughes
CC Sabathia
Jered Weaver
Mariano Rivera
Jose Valverde
Jonathan Papelbon
Rafael Soriano
Andrew Bailey
Matt Thornton

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
1 Comment

After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince people to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

tanaka
Leave a comment

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
2 Comments

Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

Headgear
MLB/MLBPA
12 Comments

For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.