Picking The All-Stars: AL Edition

The All-Star Game isn’t for another 35 days, but with the voting in full swing and enough of the season under our belts, I figure it’s time to weigh in on how I’d fill out the roster if I were Grand Poobah and had the final say on all 34 players. I will note up front that I believe the All-Star Game is an annual affair, and we shouldn’t simply have the same collection of players every year just because those are the “true stars”. The All-Star Game is best when it serves as both a platform for the game’s greatest players and recognition for those who have earned their way in. I will not be putting players on the roster who have not performed well in 2013, even if they are bonafide stars.

We’ll start with the American League, with the NL to follow in its own post. As a reminder, the rosters now comprise 34 players, which I’ll be splitting as 21 position players and 13 pitchers, as that has been the final tally for the game most of the last few years. And, yes, we’re honoring the rule requiring every team to be represented. I’ll list each player by the tier of how they got selected, then put the final roster down below. On to the picks.

The Game Would Be A Farce Without Them

These players are the epitome of All-Stars; great players having great seasons. I imagine there will be little disagreement about any of these 14 selections. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable case for excluding any of these players, assuming they still healthy for the next few weeks anyway.

Miguel Cabrera, DET, 3B: +3.9 WAR
Mike Trout, ANA, OF: +3.4 WAR
Evan Longoria, TB, 3B: +3.3 WAR
Dustin Pedroia, BOS, 2B: +2.9 WAR
Joe Mauer, MIN, C: +2.7 WAR
Jose Bautista, TOR, OF: +2.5 WAR
David Ortiz, BOS, DH: +1.8 WAR
Robinson Cano, NYY, 2B: +1.6 WAR

Anibal Sanchez, DET, SP: +3.4 WAR
Felix Hernandez, SEA, SP: +3.0 WAR
Clay Buchholz, BOS, SP: +2.9 WAR
Justin Verlander, DET, SP: +2.7 WAR
Yu Darvish, TEX, SP: +2.7 WAR
Mariano Rivera, NYY, RP: +0.9 WAR

They’ve Earned It

You wouldn’t have necessarily pegged these guys as All-Stars headed into the season, but their 2013 performance has been so stellar that they have to be there. You might have a different line for how great a performance needs to be to overcome a lack of a track record, but these seven players should clear most people’s bar and get in based on their performance to date.

Chris Davis, BAL, 1B: +3.3 WAR
Manny Machado, BAL, 3B: +3.1 WAR
Josh Donaldson, OAK, 3B: +2.9 WAR
Jhonny Peralta, DET, SS: +2.6 WAR

Derek Holland, SP, TEX: +2.7 WAR
James Shields, KC, SP: +2.2 WAR
Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA, SP: +2.1 WAR

The Team Representative

These guys are mostly worthy candidates anyway, but they are also the best choice to represent the three franchises that did not have a player listed above.

Carlos Santana, CLE, C: +1.7 WAR
Jason Castro, HOU, C: +1.4 WAR

Chris Sale, CHW, SP: +1.9 WAR

The Reserves

With 14 hitters and 10 pitchers already on the roster, that leaves us 10 spots to fill, so it’s time to start looking at where the holes are. The AL is certainly deeper at some positions — third base being the most obvious — than others, and we need to make sure the final 10 spots are filled with deserving players who also fit into the spots that we have not already filled — primarily, that’s middle infield and outfielders. Here are the 10 guys who both fit the All-Star criteria and fill the current openings.

Brett Gardner, NYY, OF: +2.2 WAR
Coco Crisp, OAK, OF: +2.1 WAR
J.J. Hardy, BAL, SS: +2.0 WAR
Mark Trumbo, ANA, OF: +1.9 WAR
Alex Gordon, KC, OF: +1.6 WAR
Ben Zobrist, TB, UT: +1.5 WAR
Prince Fielder, DET, 1B: +1.1 WAR

Max Scherzer, SP, DET: +2.9 WAR
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, NYY: +1.7 WAR
Glen Perkins, RP, MIN: +0.9 WAR

The Final Roster

That leaves us with these 34 players. The starters are listed first and are in bold, with the reserves afterwards.

Name Team Position PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
Joe Mauer Twins C 261 0.332 0.414 0.498 0.392 150 1.1 -0.1 2.7
Carlos Santana Indians C 241 0.283 0.386 0.483 0.376 142 -3.4 -1.4 1.7
Jason Castro Astros C 227 0.266 0.322 0.464 0.336 112 0.0 0.1 1.4
Chris Davis Orioles 1B 263 0.333 0.411 0.684 0.452 188 -1.4 0.3 3.2
Prince Fielder Tigers 1B 281 0.284 0.388 0.500 0.381 140 -5.6 -2.0 1.1
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B 293 0.331 0.416 0.457 0.381 138 2.4 1.4 2.9
Robinson Cano Yankees 2B 271 0.272 0.339 0.500 0.357 123 -2.1 0.0 1.6
Jhonny Peralta Tigers SS 243 0.339 0.388 0.493 0.380 140 1.9 0.5 2.6
J.J. Hardy Orioles SS 262 0.271 0.307 0.486 0.339 111 4.6 -0.7 2.0
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 3B 288 0.361 0.444 0.647 0.458 193 -6.9 1.4 3.9
Evan Longoria Rays 3B 275 0.305 0.360 0.530 0.380 146 7.3 -0.2 3.3
Manny Machado Orioles 3B 294 0.316 0.352 0.484 0.361 126 11.6 -2.0 3.1
Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B 270 0.324 0.393 0.521 0.392 152 1.5 -1.0 2.9
Mike Trout Angels OF 296 0.304 0.375 0.554 0.395 155 -1.0 4.3 3.4
Jose Bautista Blue Jays OF 257 0.267 0.370 0.516 0.380 140 4.6 0.9 2.5
Brett Gardner Yankees OF 265 0.284 0.349 0.453 0.349 118 4.8 0.5 2.2
Coco Crisp Athletics OF 219 0.290 0.381 0.489 0.373 139 -0.8 3.4 2.1
Mark Trumbo Angels OF 282 0.268 0.344 0.512 0.367 136 1.2 -0.1 1.9
Alex Gordon Royals OF 265 0.304 0.347 0.449 0.345 117 2.5 1.4 1.6
Ben Zobrist Rays UT 266 0.274 0.365 0.404 0.340 118 -2.8 2.8 1.5
David Ortiz Red Sox DH 200 0.314 0.395 0.623 0.425 167 -0.1 -0.2 1.8
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Name Team POS IP BB% K% HR/9 ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9WAR
Clay Buchholz Red Sox SP 84.1 9% 25% 0.21 40 59 80 2.9 4.2
Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP 78.0 6% 31% 0.35 64 44 60 3.4 2.3
Felix Hernandez Mariners SP 97.2 5% 27% 0.55 65 63 63 3.0 2.9
Max Scherzer Tigers SP 83.1 6% 32% 0.65 78 58 69 2.9 2.1
Yu Darvish Rangers SP 88.1 8% 34% 0.92 63 65 64 2.7 3.0
Derek Holland Rangers SP 79.2 6% 23% 0.45 65 60 79 2.7 2.3
Justin Verlander Tigers SP 80.0 8% 27% 0.56 89 63 75 2.7 1.4
James Shields Royals SP 93.0 7% 23% 0.77 68 79 84 2.2 2.9
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP 95.1 4% 25% 0.94 47 81 77 2.1 3.9
Chris Sale White Sox SP 77.1 6% 24% 0.81 63 76 83 1.9 2.6
Hiroki Kuroda Yankees SP 79.1 5% 18% 0.79 68 84 96 1.7 2.6
Mariano Rivera Yankees RP 24.1 4% 24% 0.37 35 56 78 0.9 1.2
Glen Perkins Twins RP 22.2 7% 38% 0.79 69 54 54 0.9 0.6

And, finally, the starting line-up.

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jose Bautista, RF
6. Chris Davis, 1B
7. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
8. Jhonny Peralta, SS
9. Brett Gardner, LF

Based on both career track record and 2013 performance, this is how I’d fill out the AL All-Star roster. There are a lot of great players who didn’t make the cut, and there are certainly judgment calls here that could have gone another direction, but overall, I think this is a pretty good set of players who would represent the American League quite well.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

133 Responses to “Picking The All-Stars: AL Edition”

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  1. Johnson says:

    Trout at SS?

    Nah, make it Papi.

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  2. Sivart says:

    This list needs more Kawasaki!

    +44 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. The Rev says:

    Wow, it’s a shame Jhonny Peralta and his SS position don’t even get a spot in the order!

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  4. Matt says:

    Daniel Nava: 2.1 bWAR, best OBP of all AL OF’s. Top 5 in OPS, and yes he qualifies. Not on the ballet, but man, it’d be great to see him make it.

    +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Juan Pierre says:

      Its shame Nava’s only a write in, he deserves to be recognized

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • thomas says:

        Nava does deserve to be an all-star. His exclusion is clearly based on this giving to much credit to 1/3 of a season of UZR.

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        • Spit Ball says:

          His defense is not great but he has been forced to play a lot of rightfield in place of Victorino and I just do not trust defensive metrics for leftfielders at Fenway. The Wall, and minimal foul grouns screw with things.I don’t know who he is defensively.

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        • Dave S (the original) says:

          Daniel Nava in no way shape or form is an all star. PERIOD.

          He is a 30 year old left fielder, with a “not great” defensive rep.

          He has played just over 200 games in his CAREER. Again, he is THIRTY years old. Mike Trout has played more MLB games than Nava.

          For comparison, by the time Garry Maddox entered his age 30 season, he had played 1100 games, had a lifetime batting average of .293 with a .330 OBP… and had accumulated FIVE gold gloves (well deserved) in centerfield.

          In 1976 he hit .330 with a .377 OBP, and won a gold glove in CF.

          He played in ZERO all-star games.

          Yeah, Daniel Nava is having a nice first 3 months and he’s a nice heartwarming story and everything (I guess)… but get real. He’s not an all-star.

          This is exactly the type of BS that makes people complain about the all-star game and the fans voting.

          Right?

          -23 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Sam says:

          So you are saying Nava should not be an all-star this season based upon the fact it took him a long time to make the majors? Not based upon performance or ability? I just want to make sure I have that correct.

          It seems you advocating just having the same guys every year because they are “the established stars”

          +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Dave S (the original) says:

          Sam…

          You are essentially correct.

          I am saying that I am highly suspicious of Daniel Nava’s qualifications to participate in this years all-star game.

          It is highly unlikely that he is a true “all-star” player, because “all-star” players (especially corner outfielders), don’t take until 30 years of age to secure a position in the everyday lineup of a MLB team. Do they?

          If the “All-Star Game” is not about seeing “established stars” play… then what is it about?

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        • Jonathan says:

          Recognizing the All Stars of a given season. It’s not the Lifetime Achievement Game. This year, Nava deserves All Star consideration. I wouldn’t argue for him as a starter, but he deserves to be there as a starter based on his numbers.

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        • Dave S (the original) says:

          Just curious… any of you 23 guys with the “down votes” still want to argue that Daniel Nava should have been an All-Star this year?

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  5. nathan says:

    You put an extra outfielder and forgot a SS in your line-up just thought you should be aware.

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  6. Izzy says:

    A few things:

    1: I feel like they typically choose more than two relief pitchers.
    2: Anibal Sanchez should fall in the second category rather than the first. He’s never made an all star team.
    3: Sucks to be Adrian Beltre or Kyle Seager. Is there any way to make Machado a SS for ASG purposes?

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    • Izzy says:

      Missed him, but Buchholz falls into the second group more than the first.

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    • Zach says:

      Re 2: Sanchez has also been (by WAR) the best pitcher in the AL. Whether or not he’s made an All-Star team before, the game WOULD be a farce without him.

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      • Izzy says:

        Yeah, but he fits more into the “They’ve earned it” group. Wouldn’t have expected him to make it. Similar to Chris Davis.

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        • TKDC says:

          Yes, exactly. If the game is a farce without Sanchez, it is a farce without Davis. No way around that.

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        • Jason B says:

          Who cares what group they are ranked in. (?!) Let us never speak of this again. Yes? Yes.

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  7. Zach says:

    You wouldn’t go with Fister over Kuroda? I know that would mean four Tigers SP, but damn, they’ve all earned it.

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    • Oscar Taveras says:

      How do they not have 40 wins already?

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      • NickUM says:

        They’ve underachieved more than any other team by far.
        Reasons: lose one run games while winning blowouts.
        And poor sequencing both hitting and pitching wise + a high babip allowed ( part luck and part defense)
        And they’re a slow baserunning team so it takes them 3+ hits to score a run sometimes.

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    • gdc says:

      Only if you are acting like WAR is the end-all and indicative of future performance. If you remove Kuroda (leaving only 3 reps for a strong NYY team) it would be hard to leave off Bartolo Colon, who has had a good year as well as a good story/recognition. Just doesn’t have sexy sabr numbers because he doesn’t produce many whiffs. If you are playing to win you probably would leave off some other starters and load up on power relievers, but if you even consider adding nice stories like Nava then Colon should be in the discussion, likely for the last time.

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      • Jason B says:

        “Only if you are acting like WAR is the end-all and indicative of future performance.”

        I don’t really think expected future performance really factors into my thinking of who should be an All-Star. Do others view it that way? (I’m legitimately curious as to how folks approach the All-Star voting.)

        In my mind, I don’t really care if the 1/2-season performance was super lucky or appears quite unsustainable, or if a player may be headed for steep regression. Even if they were “lucky” they still put up those numbers and they can’t be taken away from them, so I tend to vote more on their actual numbers rather than what I’m expecting them to do going forward. For instance if someone hit .400 on the strength of a .475 BABIP, I would tend to think that was All-star worthy (and I know batting average isn’t really a meaningful stat, it was just an example).

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  8. William Shatner says:

    DENNY CRANE JESSE CRAIN

    (Really though, right now as a reliever his WAR is the same as Kuroda has racked up as a starter, and nearly double Perkins)

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    • William Shatner says:

      And to be clear, I’d be taking Kuroda off the roster in favor of Crain. Perkins is 1) lefty, and 2) striking out a ton of guys. I want guys who can get strikeouts coming out of the pen. With the rest of your roster, my back end of the pen is Rivera as the closer, with Crain as the other righty and Perkins and Sale (given his past pen experience, I’m guessing he’d be the most comfortable of the starters there) as the lefties.

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    • Jeff says:

      Have to agree. Crain is the top fWAR for any relievers by a huge margin..

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  9. Carl Weathers says:

    Encarnacion!! http://i.imgur.com/y2SpJ1i.gif

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. robertobeers says:

    More like James LONELY amirite?

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  11. Hamilton Marx says:

    I expected to see Adrian Beltre, then realized his WAR is not close to the other 3B due to a -2.1 Fld score (which is interesting in that he’s been at 10+ for 5 straight years).

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  12. Sandy Kazmir says:

    I like the way you went about this. Took a lot of different variables into account. I have no squabbles, though I’m sure others will about why you hate their players so much. Cobb might have been one, but all the guys you listed could be argued as performing better. Thanks for the time.

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  13. CabreraDeath says:

    “Damn, I cannot wait to read the comments involving faux anger from all the people that think their guy should be on Dave’s hypothetical team…” – no one, hopefully

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  14. Kip says:

    Adam Jones though… Not an Os fan. With that said, his defense is that bad?

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    • Ty Cobb says:

      Matt Kemp level of badness, not quite Delmon Young but noticeably bad

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    • KS says:

      Jones’ WAR is 1.6, so even sabermetric guys should admit he belongs there, when you have a 1B and UT as reserves with lower WAR, even though there’s a shortage of outfielders?

      And since when does 5/6 of a great season make you a “great player” and an established star? I love Mike Trout’s talent, and what he did last year was amazing. And he probably belongs in the All-Star game. But seriously, he does not have a track record yet.

      My last gripe: it seems WAR is the batting average of sabermetrics, i.e., the single stat that crowds out all others in considerations like this. I get it that WAR tries to take into account all aspects of a player’s game, and that’s a noble enterprise, but even stat-heads have to admit it’s an inexact measure that relies on a number of subjective judgements.

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      • Kip says:

        Jones should be starting, in my opinion. How he is not even on the team is quite baffling. Oh well.

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        • Synovia says:

          “Jones should be starting, in my opinion. How he is not even on the team is quite baffling. Oh well.”

          No, he shouldn’t. There are other, better OF’ers who aren’t on the team (like Ellsbury).

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        • Freakshow says:

          Ellsbury? Yeah, that’s a no…

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      • Hamilton Marx says:

        Trout’s track record is he had one of the best seasons of the last decade, and did it at age 20. Clearly a star.

        WAR is still the best single metric to use for this exercise, because defense and baserunning matter. With the sample size though I think you do have to take a closer look at defense (ie, I don’t think anyone thinks the defensive gap between Machado and Beltre is really that big)

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        • Jason H says:

          Defense and baserunning do matter, but WAR really only gives the illusion that they are being considered. What you are likely really considering is a lot of random error. This is worse than not even considering defense and baserunning.

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      • Andrew says:

        but… your only argument for Jones was based on his WAR.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        Yeah if you don’t yet think Mike Trout is a bonafide, established star…you haven’t been paying attention. Can we call him that after three seasons? Five?

        However I don’t disagree with your point that the analysis can skew overly WAR-focused.

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      • Dave S (the original) says:

        How can anyone really say Mike Trout is NOT a great player? And FWIW, Trout has played ~ 9/6 of a season (244 games) not 5/6 of a season.

        and over that 1.5 seasons, he has a .305/.377/.561 slash line.

        Won a ROY, a silver slugger, one all-star game, and finished a close (and debatable) second in an MVP vote (to a guy the won a triple crown).

        I’d call that one hell of a track record.

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      • baseball says:

        His track record huh? Trout and Jones have nearly the same fWAR in their careers, despite the fact that Jones has played 852 games and Trout has only played 255

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    • Dave S says:

      It’s not that bad at all, his defense is an example of when UZR is wrong. Total Zone loved his defense last year and he earned a Gold Glove for it, and owns another Gold Glove as well (I know that’s not a good measure of performance, but it’s worth something . He’s an athletic center fielder with a big arm for his positions. His instincts aren’t always great but he makes up for it with athleticism. People shouldn’t follow UZR so dogmatically.

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    • Max says:

      The absence of Jones makes very little sense. The fans have voted him #1, his WAR is equal to a number of your picks and while I’ve never been a huge fan of his defense and think that last year’s gold glove was a joke, but everyone’s Mike Trout is ALSO listed as a negative fielder by this very site. Alex Gordon has the same WAR, walks less, strikes out more, hits less HR, steals less bases and plays for a way less successful team. This dude is going to have a hard time convincing me that his list makes much sense.

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      • Jason B says:

        “plays for a way less successful team”

        I don’t view this as relevant at all; the quality of Gordon’s or Jones’s teammates influence whether or not those two individuals are an All-star?

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  15. Frank says:

    Of all the third basement represented Miguel Cabrera is the only one with a positive base-running metric. You’ve got to love baseball…

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  16. Jason H says:

    WAR is such a silly stat to use for this. There are several players on the list who only appear because of the fielding component. For example, you’d have to believe Manny Machado is the next coming of Brooks Robinson to believe he belongs on the All Star team ahead of Adrian Beltre (who is probably a better fielder and better hitter). However, according to WAR he has been one of the top players in all of baseball. If you look at the components of WAR, however, it is pretty clear that his supposed WAR is all due to error in the fielding component and the largely imaginary positional adjustments.

    The same is true of Brett Gardner.

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    • Mike Green says:

      Manny Machado is a 20 year old shortstop playing third base. The metrics uniformly suggest that he is great defensively. Repeated observation from an opponent fan (Blue Jays here) suggests that he is great. There is no reason to doubt that he is every bit as good defensively as the 2nd tier of great defensive third basemen at their peak- Scott Rolen, Ron Santo, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre…

      Beltre is 34 years old. He was great for many years, but the running 3 year averages of any defensive metric you care to choose indicates a steady downward slope (as you would expect). You can suggest that Beltre ought still to be on the All-Star roster given his track record and performance this year, without making a comparison with a great, great young player.

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      • Jason H says:

        There aren’t even a full season’s data for Machado’s metrics. This site claims, as a rule of thumb, three years worth of data before these metrics become meaningful. Personally, that time frame suggests to me that the data are never meaningful, but if you accept that you need lots of data, then you should not be paying any attention to Machado’s defensive numbers here. Especially when he wouldn’t be considered an All Star without having a fielding component almost twice as high as any other third basemen.

        The games I’ve watched of Machado, he looks like a very good fielder. Twice as good as Longoria, and ten times better than Beltre? Of course not.

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      • Dave S says:

        I agree with Jason. As noted, we don’t even have a third of the data we need to substantiate the UZR numbers. I’d like to direct you to this article:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/jose-lopez-feast-and-famine/

        Read that and then look at Lopez’s end of season defensive numbers. At the time the article, Lopez had about the same UZR as he ended the season with (unless you want to do some advanced sorting, you’ll have to take my word here). And over the next two seasons, he’d log over 600 innings of below average defensive work. We’re dealing with more data with Machado, I know, but this shows how UZR can falter in small samples and should be cited with huge caveats if ever used with less than a season’s worth of data.

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    • LK says:

      There’s really no evidence that Gardner’s fielding component is an error.

      Also, I’m not sure what you mean by positional adjustments being “imaginary.” They clearly matter, and in an exercise like this where you’re selecting a few players at each position they don’t factor in very much anyway.

      I’d be fine with Beltre over Machado, but WAR being a silly stat isn’t why.

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      • Jason H says:

        It is all error after 60 games. You don’t need evidence for any one player. You shouldn’t believe any of the fielding numbers. Even if the numbers happen to agree with what your eyes tell you, that is just making you feel better.

        …I watch Gardner every day. He’s no all star!

        -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Synovia says:

          Good CF defense and an .800+ OPS is fantastic, and a clear allstar.

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        • Jason H says:

          I hope you are correct, Synovia. Drive up his trade value and then sell high for a bat that can mash lefties!

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    • KDL says:

      Brett Gardner has been consistently, and for a very large sample size, killing it according to most defensive metrics.

      I think you’re point about Machado’s defense is well placed, regarding stat reliability. I’m not as convinced Gardner’s D belongs mentioned in the same breath as a similar situation.

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      • Jason H says:

        Brett Gardner has less than two seasons playing center field (245 games).

        I think Gardner is a pretty good defensive center fielder. Hes got fantastic speed, pretty good range, a terrible arm, jittery hands, and gets nervous around the wall. I think his speed makes up for a lot of his problems though, and I’m happy to have him out their defensively. His defensive might make up for his hitting enough to make him a serviceable player, but it doesnt make him an all star. ….for a lightning fast guy, he’s also one hell of a bad baserunner!

        -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      Yeah I don’t disagree that 40% of a single season’s fielding data may skew WAR and make it tough to use for an exercise such as this; but then you want to drop Machado from the team? Yarg. Decent concept, if misapplied.

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    • Sully says:

      Very true. Nava’s defense is not elite, but the funky nature of Fenway park and small small size turns him from an obvious all star into being unmentioned by Cameron.

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      • Dave S (the original) says:

        Daniel Nava is a 30 yo platoon player, who has played just over 200 MLB games in his entire career. He is having a terrific season to date. Perhaps he’s finally been plugged into his proper niche… but,

        Obvious All-Star?

        puh-lease.

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    • stevenam says:

      Brett Gardner is in no way an all star. Not a starter, not a backup, not a replacement. Watch him play. He’s not.

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  17. Eminor3rd says:

    Alex Rios’ 2.1 WAR is higher than most of your OF choices.

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  18. Name says:

    I’d go with Jed Lowrie as the starting SS. Much better K to BB ration than Peralta. Jhon just has that huge BABIP fueling him.

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    • Bab says:

      I agree Lowrie has been very good this year. And healthy (!). The only issue is that he also spends a fair amount of time at 2B based on that days’ platoon, which actually might suit him better because he may not grade out as an average SS.

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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      As an A’s fan, I can tell you that his poor defensive numbers are legitimate. While he has been playable, I think he has looked rather poor out there when he played SS. While his offense has been All Star worthy, I think his defense drags him down enough that Peralta and Hardy deserve it over him.

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  19. KCDaveInLA says:

    Not bad…my projected line-up right now has some similarities, but I agree with above that Jesse Crain deserves in over the likes of Glen Perkins (Mauer is your Minnesota rep, you don’t need another). My outfield has Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino making it, Matt Wieters as the backups to Mauer and Santana, and Jose Altuve as the Astros obligatory representative. Now, if only we had a way of over-riding fan votes…

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  20. phaddix says:

    Scherzer as a reserve is a joke…at the very least he goes into the “They’ve earned it” group and given that he has been the best pitcher on the Tigers so far this year he probably deserves to take Verlanders place as a starter.

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    • steex says:

      First of all, I don’t think everyone would agree that Scherzer has been better than Sanchez. I think there’s a decent case to be made that Max belongs up in “They’ve Earned It,” but it doesn’t make that much difference.

      However, you completely lost me at “he probably deserves to take Verlanders place as a starter.” This is for the all-star team, so it’s not like there is a rotation, and Dave is just outlining his methodology. The first tier was intended to be perennial all-star performers who are still performing at an all-star level this season – that description very much includes Verlander, but I’m not so sure that Scherzer’s track record prior to 2013 put him into that same category. If he continues on the same path, I think he would go into the top group a year from today with an additional year of dominance under his belt.

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    • Bab says:

      Yeah this is weird for me too. Sounds like you’re more angry at Verlander than impressed with Scherzer.

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  21. Bab says:

    Coco Crisp probably won’t sneak in as a reserve, but he would have earned it. He’s played well in all phases of the game this year (except for not throwing the ball hard).

    In fact, Crisp is an interesting case of a very valuable player who has never made an ASG. He’s accumulated 27.4 WAR over 12 seasons, not all of them full seasons. And he should have at least been a reserve in 2005 with CLE. I’m sure there’s a good research topic in there somewhere.

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  22. Joe says:

    Why should an award (All-Star) selection, be based on anything other than this seasons performance. In terms of winning the game and trying to gain the relatively unimportant home-field advantage, it makes sense. But why not give the 2013 MVP to the guy who played best for 2012 AND 2013? I just think the game should be an award for players who are having good-great 2013 seasons.

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    • Jason H says:

      I’m partially sympathetic to this idea, but then the second half of seasons would be entirely irrelevant for All Star voting. That doesn’t seem right either.

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    • Bab says:

      Fan voting.

      Certain things in life should not be left to a democratic process. ASG voting is one of them. Once you have eediots submitting hundreds of ballots to get their favorite team’s roleplayers in the game but leaving out totally worthy players on other teams — it’s time to cut the fans off.

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      • Jason B says:

        Eh, I don’t mind that trade-off; let the fans (even the homers, the misinformed-but-well-meaning, and the downright wrong) have their say in the process. It’s an exhibition (granted, one that now has postseason home-field implications, but that misguided idea isn’t the fans’ fault).

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  23. Joe says:

    I agree. I don’t know how they would do this. Maybe make it in the criteria that post-all-star break of previous year through pre all-star break of current season is how players should be judged. But since the fans vote, it won’t go as planned anyway. It’s hard enough for the fans to vote even half-correct based on a half seasons performance.

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  24. DialC says:

    3B is ridiculous in the AL this year. Four of the top six AL position player WAR leaders are at 3B.

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  25. Michael Scarn says:

    This list is generally good but I’m surprised that Daniel Nava wasn’t included. As mentioned before, he has the highest OBP of AL OF and hits for good power too. I suspect that a quick eyeball of his WAR in relation to other AL OF’s had him lower in your mind due to the extremely negative fielding score. But, as everyone knows, you have to take 60 games of UZR with a huge grain of salt, and if he’s a bad fielder, rather than a terrible one, he probably has enough WAR to sneak on the roster.

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  26. Michael Scarn says:

    Also — no love for Saltalamacchia? He’s hitting .285/.349/.523 but I suspect people don’t really notice as much because he’s one of those post-hype guys who is mainly known for being a one time top prospect and not completely living up to his hype.

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    • Chief Keef says:

      As a Red Sox fan I’ve grown to hate his game, but there’s no denying his production so far this season.

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  27. Peter R says:

    I cant believe Cano has a negative fld…that doesn’t make any sense to me. If you want to say he is average, fine (though I think he is somewhat above average) but to say he has been bad defensively this year is ridiculous. WAR suggest Brett Gardner has been worth over half a win more than Cano this year? Doesn’t make any sense.

    I generally like WAR but I don’t know if it should be used in this way at this time of the year.

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    • Krog says:

      Cano has never been known as a great second baseman defensively (-30.5 career UZR).

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      • Jason H says:

        It is pretty common for people who watch Cano play to think he is a great defensive second baseman.

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        • TheGrandslamwich says:

          It’s also common for people who watched lots of Jeter to think he deserved Gold Glove awards.

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        • Dan says:

          People who know what they’re looking at don’t say and have never said that Jeter is a good shortstop. It’s plainly obvious that he is not, and it’s just as obvious that Cano is at least a very good second baseman. If UZR says he is -30 in his career then UZR isn’t working correctly. I’m pretty darn far from a Yankees fan, and I’m telling you, it’s wrong.

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        • Jason H says:

          It is also common for people who never watch the games to think Brett Gardner is a great fielder because of his UZR. But he’s not. He routinely misses catchable balls. …misses them in bizarre ways. …like runs past the ball.

          The contention that Cano has “never been known as a great fielder” is simply not true. Really the only people who don’t think he’s a great fielder are SABER folks who don’t watch the games but do believe that UZR is meaningful, or SABER folks who do watch the games, but trust UZR more than what they see.

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  28. Jaker says:

    You know, it’d be nice to get a metric that includes wRAA, UBR and wSB without UZR. WAR minus UZR.

    It’s been said here and elsewhere that the fielding component of WAR takes about 3 years’ worth of data to mature and yet here we have the author selecting an All-Star team based on WAR from 1/3 of a season.

    The difference wouldn’t be huge, WAR is a fair enough overall measure of talent, but removing the fielding component might help frame the argument around Adam Jones vs. Brett Gardner for example.

    Adam Jones
    wRAA 11.0
    UBR 0.9
    wSB 1.6

    Brett Gardner
    wRAA 7.4
    UBR 0.7
    wSB -0.2

    This doesn’t mean we should ignore defense, but it acknowledges that its measurement is likely subject to greater early season error/variation than the other 3 metrics. And yes, I’m aware that SSS affect the other metrics as well, though I’m willing to bet not to the same degree.

    More information is always better so why not a non-fielding WAR metric — AN OFFENSE-ONLY WAR?

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    • Jaker says:

      I mean, has Carlos Gomez’ CF defense really been worth 18 more runs saved than Adam Jones’. 18?

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    • Izzy Hechkoff says:

      Jones and Gardner do have opposite track records, so a big difference makes sense there. B-R has oWAR, which is what you’re looking for (including the positional adjustment). If you want to use Fangraphs, just export the data from the values tab and add up all the components except UZR.

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    • commave says:

      If you’re going to throw out UZR, then you should throw out UBR, too, since it’s calculated the same way and subject to the same error rate and sample size limitations.

      It’s not that UZR is “inaccurate” at this sample size, it’s that it’s not predictive. But neither are any of the slash line stats (~500 PA), nor any of the pitching stats.

      UZR, like the other statistics that we are looking at right now, is a record of things that happened. A good fielder can have a bad UZR at this point in the season, just like a batter can have a .494 OBP that rests almost entirely on a .523 BABIP.

      Comparing UZR with DRS provides a good sanity check.

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      • Jason H says:

        This is not right. UZR has a TON of measurement error. They are assigning a complex continuous variable (batted balls) into discreet categories. UZR routinely scores harder to field balls as less difficult than easier to field balls. UZR is not a record of what actually happened, like home runs are a record of what happened. We know precisely how many home runs a batter hit (except for when Angel Hernandez is umpiring). With UZR, no single play is scored precisely, and in aggregate it’s a mess. The small sample size problem with UZR is not just that it is not predictive, it is that the error in the measurement is probably greater than the thing you are trying to measure (i.e. it is entirely meaningless as a record of what actually happened).

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  29. Chad says:

    Nice list but I have to believe that either Matt Moore or Alex Cobb or both should be in there.

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  30. Nick says:

    Not related to the article, but Dave is their a difference in BABIP for pitches hit inside vs outside the zone?

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    • chris says:

      Interested in this too, mostly related to Chris Young this season, but in general it would be interesting to know.

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  31. Matt says:

    I don’t get why Buchholz is in group one but Shields is in group two. Shields has been at or near all-star caliber for years. Only Red Sox fans thought Buchholz was an all-star prior to this year.

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    • Jason B says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much about which group a player gets placed in on one guy’s made-up ballot. An All-star is an All-star is an All-star; they don’t make the “barely made it” or “only there to represent a crappy team” guys ride in the back of the bus, so to speak.

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  32. ye says:

    in that kat so deep i coulda drowned twice

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  33. cs3 says:

    Funny that Gordon, Zobrist, Gardner, and Trumbo all made Dave’s list and somehow Adam Jones didn’t.

    Im not even a fan of Jones, but c’mon man

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  34. Darwin says:

    Encarnacion should be ahead of Fielder. He’s just better than him.

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  35. Angelsjunky says:

    No Josh Hamilton? I smell East Coast Bias.

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  36. Ivan Grushenko says:

    It’s obviously not allowed but I’d be in favor of making Machado backup SS and Donaldson backup 1B to get Beltre and Seager onto the team. I’d have taken Fister over Kuroda or Iwakuma, and slso Jacoby Ellsbury should be considered someplace.

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  37. Visitor says:

    In case anyone else wondered, here is the AL AS team purely by previous 12 months WAR (except for positional and team representative considerations) using the leaderboards (I chose position just based on how they came up there for simplicity’s sake except for DH, where I used who is actually on the ballot at DH as a better proxy):

    Starters
    C Joe Mauer-Min
    1B Prince Fielder-Det
    2B Robinson Cano-NYY
    SS Erick Aybar-LAA*
    3B Miguel Cabrera-Det
    OF Mike Trout-LAA
    OF Alex Gordon-KC
    OF Ben Zobrist-TB
    DH Edwin Encarnacion-Tor

    Bench
    C Carlos Santana-Cle
    C Jason Castro-Hou**
    1B Chris Davis-Bal
    1B/OF Nick Swisher
    2B Dustin Pedroia
    2B Howie Kendrick-LAA
    3B Adrian Beltre-Tex
    3B Kyle Seager-Sea
    OF Alex Rios-CWS
    OF Coco Crisp-Oak
    OF Torii Hunter-Det

    Pitchers
    SP Felix Hernandez-Sea
    SP Max Scherzer-Det
    SP Justin Verlander-Det
    SP Yu Darvish-Tex
    SP Doug Fister-Det
    SP James Shields-KC
    SP Hiroki Kuroda-NYY
    SP Clay Buchholz-Bos
    SP C.C. Sabathia-NYY
    SP Chris Sale-CWS
    SP David Price-TB***
    RP Greg Holland-KC
    RP Jesse Crain-CWS

    *Actually tied with Jhonny Peralta, but fewer games means more impressive performance. Peralta is then just barely off the bench, though certainly it would make sense to sub him in in place of Swisher to have a bench SS. I just wanted to keep is as much a straight list of WAR as possible.
    **Here as a team representative, bumping off Yoenis Cespedes.
    ***If you want to take him out because of injury, the sub-in would be Jake Peavy.

    Apologies if I made any mistakes in this, and I’m not saying this is how the team should be. I was just curious how that team would look and thought others might be as well.

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  38. jevant says:

    It would be a real shame if Encarnacion was not there…

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  39. Billy says:

    I understand Encarnacion is listed as DH on the ballot, but the guy is a 1B, he’s played 90% of his games there this year (that’s a number off the top of my head, but I’m guessing its not far off in reality) and the guy is having an undeniably great year. If he is passed over for the All-Star Game at this rate, there is something horribly wrong with the selection process.

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  40. Wobatus says:

    Brett Gardner, all-star. They laughed at me, called me mad, when I was touting him on minorleagueball in 2008! Al Skorupa may recall. Admittedly he’s much better even than i thought, and I was just calling him Brett Butler lite. I guess the name Brett stuck in my head. Never thought the Yankees would make him their starting left fielder back then but they were sharp.

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  41. Wub says:

    I honestly think Howie Kendrick should get some more recognition.

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  42. Knobby Chris says:

    No Alex Rios? Huge oversight. Shoe-in.

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  43. Gary Mugford says:

    Not sure how Fielder rates ahead of Encarnacion. Would be curious to know which metric(s) were used to adjudge that. As of the writing of this comment, after an unexpected Toronto off-day, Encarnacion enjoys a 36 percent better WAR, for whatever that’s worth. He’s been enjoying the new-found fear pitchers have for Adam Lind (of late). But that’s a relatively recent development as the #5 hitters in Toronto haven’t been all that protective this season. (actually, for the last month, it’s a case of #4 hitters as manager John Gibbons has simply done away with his lead-off try-outs and moved the Cabrera-Batista-Encarnacions-Lind group each down one spot).

    Encarnacion has been good to good-plus at 1B and has done not too bad when helping the team out with switches over to the old E5 territory at 3B. And he runs the bases decently, including a theft or three … something we don’t see all that much from Fielder.

    So Dan, how come, why for?

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  44. mrgdawg says:

    How can you leave out S. Perez, the catcher for the Royals. He’s easily the best defensive Catcher in the game.

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  45. Nikki says:

    Evan Longoria starting at 3rd

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