I can’t summon up a lot of angst about this one. No, Michael Cuddyer isn’t one of the AL’s top 10 outfielders. One could argue about whether he’s in the top 20. Still, I think every guy who sticks around as a nice regular for 12-15 years should get to experience an All-Star selection once.
Cuddyer, a free agent-to-be, is in his 11th season and very possibly his final season with the Twins. He’s been a regular the last eight of them, hitting as many as 32 homers and driving in as many as 109 runs. Along the way, he’s played whatever posititon the team has asked for him. He was drafted as a shortstop, converted to third base and established himself as a full-time right fielder in the majors, only to return to the infield at both second and third when needed the last couple of years.
This season, Cuddyer shook off a positively horrible start — he went 16 straight games without an RBI to begin the season — to rebound to .286/.356/.459 with 11 homers and 32 RBI. The .815 OPS ranks him eighth among AL outfielders.
In the end, Cuddyer is likely only in this position because Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau got hurt. Also, a healthy Denard Span would have been a better choice for the AL roster. Based on 2011 play alone, I’d rather have seen the AL team carry Alex Gordon in the outfield and then Scott Baker over Aaron Crow, leaving the Twins and Royals with their one rep apiece.
But I’m not upset over Cuddyer’s pick. It’s a nice reward for a guy in the midst of a fine career who may never have such an opportunity again.