Your American League All-Star vote leaders

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2010 All-Star Game.JPGIt’s early yet, but if the All-Star voting ended today, the nine starting position players in the AL
would be
:

C: Joe Mauer
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Evan
Longoria
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, Carl Crawford, Nelson Cruz
DH: Vladimir
Guerrero.

There have been worse voting results in history, but this one is far from perfect. Mauer, Longoria and Guerrero are obvious choices at their position thus far. Otherwise:

  • Teixeira is an awful choice — Justin Morneau is destroying baseballs this year.
  • Cano is probably the best choice at second, but Ty Wigginton is pretty close.
  • No one is having a fabulous season at short in the AL, but Jeter isn’t having the best either. I’d go with Elvis Andrus I suppose, or maybe Alex Gonzalez, depending on how you feel about contact vs. power vs. glove dynamics;
  • In the outfield the Nelson Cruz choice is a good one even with his limited playing time. I understand the Crawford and Suzuki picks, but [gulp] Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios are having great seasons so far, as are Shin-Soo Choo, Magglio Ordonez, and Nick Swisher.
  • DH is the right choice, but check out the vote getters directly behind Vlad: Matsui, Griffey, Pat Burrell and Big Papi.  Is this a reflection on the state of the DH in baseball, or a harsh comment on the state of fandom?  You be the judge.

And for the record, I’ll be updating this kind of thing throughout the early summer — NL vote leaders tomorrow — and when I do I’ll likely be critical of the vote totals. However, I realize that this is a fan’s vote and that the All-Star Game is a fan’s game.

It’s my personal preference that those who are playing best in the first half get honored, but I know that I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to this subject. And ultimately? The All-Star Game has become something of a blah event anyway, so who cares?  More on that as the summer wears on as well.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

Bryce Harper
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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.