Thursday, June 26, 2008

Calendar Year All-Stars, Part II (AL)

Here is the continuation on the Calendar Year All-Stars, those players chosen for the All-Star game based not upon a small sample (the first few months) but on the larger sample of July 2007-present. Under discussion today: the outfielders and pitchers of the American League.

Leading vote getters: Manny Ramirez (.291/.379/.516), Josh Hamilton (.310/.355/.572), Ichiro Suzuki (.285/.346/.365)
Runs Created Leaders: Grady Sizemore (59), Hamilton (59), Carlos Quentin (58)

Ichiro is clearly one of those Perennial All-Stars getting his votes bumped because of the rabid fan base in Japan, voting for him despite ranking 11th in the AL in Runs Created. Hamilton is an easy pick for most people because its the combination of MVP-type numbers and an amazing comeback story. Sizemore and Quentin are having good first halves, but how do they compare to the top outfielders since July 2007?

Manny Ramirez (.293/.380/.509, 568 PA)
Josh Hamilton (.315/.364/.584, 481 PA)
Ichiro Suzuki (.317/.365/.386, 758 PA)
Grady Sizemore (.269/.379/.483, 746 PA)
Carlos Quentin (.272/.376/.492, 372 PA)
Johnny Damon (.303/.374/.452, 663 PA)
Magglio Ordonez (.328/.397/.526, 683 PA)
Vladamir Guerrero (.307/.367/.517, 635 PA)
Nick Markakis (.304/.388/.502, 712 PA)

This is certainly one of the deepest positions. Despite the injury that cut short Hamilton's 2007, he still ranks up there among the best choices for the All-Star game. No one's slugging percentage is remotely close. Manny Being Manny is a solid choice as allways, but its tough to count out the performances of both Magglio Ordonez and Vladamir Guerrero. I think Mags has got to be in, and the tough decision between ManRam and Vlad will have to be left unto some sort of random number generator. Still, this is one of the votes that is closer to the Calendar Year All-Stars than the Small Sample All-Stars, although I'm certain both Sizemore and Quentin will be selected for the reserves.

All that said, let me throw out there one intriguing possibility:

Milton Bradley (.323/.437/.611) has the highest OPS of any American League regular over the past 365 days. He's currently the Rangers' DH and played in the NL last season, but he is listed on the roster as an outfielder. I think, despite the low number of plate appearances (442), he has to get some consideration over his teammate Hamilton. Just because one guy is a recovering coke addict who has found Jesus and the other one throws tantrums on the field shouldn't influence your vote (assuming your vote is based on statistics...).

Designated Hitter
Leading Vote Getter: David Ortiz (.252/.354/486, 37 RC)
Leading Runs Created: Milton Bradley (54), Hideki Matsui (47, .323/.404/.458)

We've dealt with Bradley already, and Matsui is leading DHs in 2008, with Ortiz having a down year and some inuries. Still, he has reached Derek Jeter territory in fan voting, and it would take a few seasons of absolute wretched hitting for the voters not to make him the starter. From the last year:

David Ortiz (.305/.414/.585, 609 PA)
Hideki Matsui (.302/.384/.486, 659 PA)
Aubrey Huff (.279/.352/.495, 633 PA)
Jim Thome (.257/.376/.536, 623 PA)

All right, it's not even close, it's Ortiz.

There is no vote for pitchers and I think its a shame. I don't think it would be too much to ask of MLB to come up with a list of their nine starting pitchers to be included on the roster, and then let the fans spend two weeks voting for the starter. It would be a large undertaking to try and fill the whole roster, so let's just try and figure out who should start the game based on the last years' statistics.

Strange times are afoot in the pitching ranks. With stalwarts like Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Johan Santana, and David Wells out of the league and even baseball, it's the young guns that have to fill the void. Of course, the two stats that carry the most weight for managers selecting the All-Star pitching staffs are ERA and Wins, and both statistics have their flaws. The Hardball Times tracks Pitching Runs Created, and here are the 2008 leaders:

Roy Halladay (57; 3.12 ERA)
Shaun Marcum (57; 2.65 ERA)
Cliff Lee (55; 2.45 ERA)
Felix Hernandez (53; 2.83 ERA)
Ervin Santana (51; 3.32 ERA)
Mariano Rivera (50; 0.76 ERA)
Zack Greinke (50; 3.40 ERA)

First of all, I want to note how incredible it is that a relief pitcher is in the top six pitchers in the AL; Rivera has been simply brilliant. That said, let's look at how some top pitchers have performed over the last 365 days. I'm going to have to use ERA because that's what's available, but walks and strikeouts also give a clue to dominance.

Halladay (33 starts, 249.1 IP, 3.21 ERA, 177 K, 49 BB)
Marcum (32 starts, 193.2 IP, 3.62 ERA, 146 K, 52 BB)
Lee (20 starts, 135.1 IP, 3.92 ERA, 108 K, 30 BB)
Hernandez (35 starts, 235.1 IP, 3.40 ERA, 190 K, 72 BB)
Santana (27 starts, 167.2 IP, 4.56 ERA, 155 K, 54 BB)
Greinke (23 starts, 166.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 139 K, 51 BB)

And add in some of last year's best pitchers:

Sabathia (33 starts, 225 IP, 3.60 ERA, 208 K, 50 BB)
Beckett (30 starts, 203.2 IP, 3.58 ERA, 212 K, 39 BB)
Lackey (25 starts, 178.2 IP, 2.57 ERA, 142K, 34 BB)
Matsuzaka (29 starts, 171 IP, 4.26 ERA, 155 K, 86 BB)

And the pitchers who will get consideration to start the game because of their win totals:
Mussina (31 starts, 176.1 IP, 4.59 ERA, 100 K, 32 BB) 10 wins
Saunders (28 starts, 178 IP, 3.89 ERA, 104 K, 47 BB) 11 wins
Padilla (24 starts, 138.1 IP, 3.77 ERA, 92 K, 52 BB) 10 wins

That's a lot of different stat lines to consider. But let me ask: with the game on the line, would you rather have a pitcher from group A, group B, or group C? The choices have to be down to Halladay and Sabathia, with the Doc getting the nod based on his superior control.

Relief Pitcher

I've already made my choice quite clear. Over the past 365 days, here's a stat line for you:
73 games, 79 IP, 1.71 ERA, 87 K, 10 BB (and 42 saves)

Here's another to consider... Joba Chamberlain, who probably won't get any mention for the game due to his hybrid role the past calendar year, but:

44 games, 72.2 IP, 1.49 ERA, 90 K, 30 BB

I'd take both of those lines over any of the following:

Putz: 56 games, 57 IP, 2.84 ERA, 69 K, 24 BB
Papelbon: 67 games, 65.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, 92 K, 11 BB
Nathan: 69 games, 72 IP, 1.38 ERA, 77 K, 16 BB
Street: 62 games, 66.1 IP, 3.66 ERA, 80 K, 15 BB

Sure, Papelbon has more strikeouts and Nathan has a lower ERA. But neither of them is the Sandman.

Matt's AL All-Stars:
C Joe Mauer
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter
OF Milton Bradley
OF Josh Hamilton
OF Magglio Ordonez
SP Roy Halladay
CL Mariano Rivera

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