June 5, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) throws a pitch against the Houston Astros in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
It's finally about time that one could actually fill out an all star ballot.
I don't care particularly about the all star game, but it's an interesting excuse to think about the league as a whole and our team, position by position.
Joey Votto has successfully waited out his competition. It's pretty much been traded away. He leads all NL first basemen with 3.5 WAR and an amazing .458 wOBA (benefitting from a .421 BABIP). His nearest competition is Brian LaHair with half the WAR that Votto has amassed. It's hard to imagine voting for anyone but Votto. However, were you so inclined, your best non-Votto option would be a write-in for the first baseman with the fourth-most WAR, Allen Craig. He has put together 1.2 WAR in 87 PAs, about one-third of Votto's plate appearances. That's still not a great argument for a non-Votto vote, but it's an argument.
All told, Craig, Berkman, and Carpenter have put together a total of 2.3 WAR acting primarily as the Cardinals' first basemen. Even noting that those wins include time spent in the outfield and third base, that's a pretty fair return on a hodgepodge of intermittently injured players.
Second base is an interesting mix of options. First, if you follow fWAR to the letter, Dan Uggla is your man, with 2.2 WAR and a .364 wOBA. I think a better choice would be Jose Altuve, who closely follows Uggla with 1.8 WAR and a .362 wOBA. Somehow, half a season of UZR thinks Uggla is a decent fielder and better than Altuve. I think we can safely say Altuve is at least no worse than Uggla at defense. The Allen Craig vote at second could go to Jerry Hairston. While he's played all over the diamond - and more at third than second - he's been worth 1.5 WAR in 109 PAs.
None of the Cardinals rank close to second base all stardom. Descalso leads the way with 0.6 WAR, with the whole cadre at second worth 1.1 WAR. With Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips faring poorly, the NL second basemen have left our weakest position within spitting distance of the best at their position
At short, there's at last a very good argument to vote for a Cardinal. Jed Lowrie and his .390 wOBA are hard to ignore. Rafael Furcal comes in second to Lowrie with 2.1 fWAR to his 2.6 fWAR. Lowrie is probably the best choice at short, but you can certainly vote for Furcal without feeling like a complete homer.
There is not really room for much debate here. David Wright is the best thirdbaseman in the National League, with a .432 wOBA and 3.6 WAR. Martin Prado trails with 3.0 WAR, but he's served primarily in left field. David Freese follows far behind with a respectable 1.2 WAR.
The National League has a preposterous amount of value tied up in outfielders. Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Andre Ethier, Melky Cabrera, and Andrew mcCutchen all have out produced Cardinal stalwarts Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran. Beltran's 16 home runs might be worth something in terms of gathering votes. Sort of like Furcal, both Holliday and Beltran are close enough to All Star level that you could vote for them without too much heartburn.
Yadier Molina has had an outstanding season, but has stiff competition behind the plate. Carlos Ruiz and A.J. Ellis have similarly had breakout seasons. All are worth 2.7 or 2.6 WAR. But I think Molina is probably the best of three catchers having outstanding seasons, given his well-regarded defense. Given the scarcity of first base talent, perhaps a catcher or outfielder could make some appearances at first.
What do you think? What will your ballot look like? How do you make your decisions?