Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
My AL All-Star Roster
2006-07-10 23:26
by Cliff Corcoran

As I did last year, I thought it would be fun to try to assemble my own versions of the two 32-man All-Star team rosters. The only rules here are that the fan vote counts, but the player vote doesn't, and that each team must be represented. Unfortunately, I got a bit carried away and only had time for the AL roster, still, this should answer your questions about why some seemingly worthy Yankees aren't in Pittsburgh tonight.

Starters elected by the fans:

1B – David Ortiz
2B – Mark Loretta
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Ivan Rodriguez
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Vladimir Guerrero
LF – Manny Ramirez

First thing's first. Ramirez has begged out of the game, clearing the way for Vernon Wells, who is both a proper center fielder and worthy of starting, so that's all candy and berries. So reset the outfield:

RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Vernon Wells
LF – Vladimir Guerrero

DL – Manny Ramirez

Next up, let's get our reps from the worst teams in there to avoid any Mark Redman-style eyesores. From the Royals I'm going with David DeJesus (.310/.404/.477), who both leads the team in VORP and is really the only member of their team with any kind of future. From the Devil Rays I'll go with Scott Kazmir (3.27, 10-6, 9.73 K/9), again the team leader in VORP and a young player with a bright future (far brighter than DeJesus's to say the least). Moving up in the standings we need an Oriole. That team is basically Miguel Tejada (.315/.362/.510, 17 HR, 62 RBI) and change and again Tejada is the team leader in VORP (by a lot). Easy choice there. Next are the Indians. Travis Hafner (.322/.461/.650, 25 HR, 74 RBI) leads the major leagues in VORP and was shafted last year, so he's an easy choice.

Thanks to the fans we have a Mariner and an Angel already. The Rangers are a bit tougher. Gary Matthews Jr. leads the team in VORP, but his .328/.374/.539 screams fluke season from a 31-year-old career disappointment. Then again, the next man in line is Michael Young (.316/.361/.456, 118 H), and we already have a back-up shortstop in Tejada. I think I'll hold off here and see if I need the outfielder, or if I want to take Young as an "infielder" and consider him a back-up second baseman, his primary position prior to 2004.

For the A's, Barry Zito (3.29, 8-6) hasn't been overwhelming this season, but he's got the name and his team's top VORP total, so he's in with Kazmir on my pitching staff. The Twins are easy, in fact I'm going to take Joe Mauer (my choice for starting catcher and first-half AL MVP, .378/.446/.535, 7 SB), Johan Santana (2.95, 9-5, 1.00 WHIP, 9.48 K/9, 5.75 K/BB) and Francisco Liriano (1.83, 10-1, 0.97 WHIP, 10.39 K/9, 4.43 K/BB) right off the bat.

Thanks to Manny's injury we already have a Blue Jay and the fan vote gave us a Tiger and two each from the Yankees and Red Sox. That just leaves the defending World Champion White Sox. The obvious choice here is Jim Thome (.298/.414/.651, 30 HR, 77 RBI), but we already have Ortiz via the fan vote and Hafner, who's been better than Thome to begin with. Jose Contreras (3.38, 9-0, 1.18 WHIP) and Bobby Jenks (2.83, 26 SV, 1.11 WHIP, 10.67 K/9, 3.77 K/BB) are good alternates, but I'm not sure who's most deserving as Contreras is 11th in the AL in VORP among pitchers and Jenks is tenth in VORP among AL relievers (behind the Rangers' Akinori Otsuka, whom I didn't even mention above, and only two spots above Ron Villone). Thome, meanwhile is fourth in the majors in VORP. Shoot, gotta take him.

So that gives us:

1B – David Ortiz
2B – Mark Loretta
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Ivan Rodriguez
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Vernon Wells
LF – Vladimir Guerrero

1B – Travis Hafner
1B – Jim Thome
SS – Miguel Tejada
C – Joe Mauer
OF – David DeJesus
SP – Johan Santana
SP – Francisco Liriano
SP – Scott Kazmir
SP – Barry Zito

DL – Manny Ramirez

We still need a Texas Ranger, but let's start filling in the positions. I had voted for Robinson Cano to start at second base and now that he's injured I can have it both ways by adding him, then replacing him with my next choice which would be either Brian Roberts or Seattle's Jose Lopez. They're essentially tied in VORP, but their fielding Rates have headed in opposite directions since my vote post, with Roberts making significant improvements. That, plus his strong showing last year and the fact that I have to give Lopez's team to help identify him, leads me to pick Roberts here. At third base, Mike Lowell, Joe Crede and Troy Glaus were in a close race behind deserving starter Alex Rodriguez. Since then Lowell has really distinguished himself, in part because of his outstanding fielding.

In the outfield, Jermaine Dye was shafted by the voters. You might wonder why I didn't just use Dye as my White Sox representative. I'll repeat what I said above, Jim Thome is fourth in the major leagues in VORP. Next in line are Grady Sizemore, one of the most exciting young players in the league and . . . well look at that, Gary Matthews Jr. That solves my Rangers problem.

So now we have:

1B – David Ortiz
2B – Mark Loretta
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Ivan Rodriguez
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Vernon Wells
LF – Vladimir Guerrero

1B – Travis Hafner
1B – Jim Thome
2B – Brian Roberts
SS – Miguel Tejada
3B – Mike Lowell
C – Joe Mauer
OF – Jermaine Dye
OF – Grady Sizemore
OF – Gary Matthews Jr.
OF – David DeJesus
SP – Johan Santana
SP – Francisco Liriano
SP – Scott Kazmir
SP – Barry Zito

DL – Manny Ramirez, Robinson Cano

That's 22 spots. I've got ten left and I need a bunch of pitchers. Roy Halladay is the top AL starter by VORP and hasn't made my team yet, so he's in. That's five starters. Jonathan Papelbon and B.J. Ryan are the top two AL relievers by both VORP and the brutally awkward Relievers Expected Wins Added (which has the even more confusing acronym WXRL). WXRL, which I can only assume is some Baseball Prospecticon's favorite radio station, tallies a reliever's effect upon his team's Win Probability (also known as Win Expectancy) then compares that to league average. For those unfamiliar with Win Probability, say a visiting team has a two run lead in the bottom of the ninth with the bases empty and one out. At that moment they have a 95.9 percent chance of winning that game. If the pitcher gives up a home run in that situation, reducing his lead to one-run, he drops his team's Win Expectancy to 90.8 percent, thus he's docked 5.1 points. If he strikes out the batter in that situation, to put his team one out from a win with a two-run lead, he improves his team's Win Expectancy to 99.6 percent, thus he's credited with 3.7 points.

Looking at the top ten AL relievers in both VORP and WXRL, the pitchers appearing on both lists are:

Mariano Rivera, 3rd VORP, 8th WXRL
J.J. Putz, 5th VORP, 5th WXRL
Joel Zumaya, 6th VORP, 7th WXRL
Joe Nathan, 8th VORP, 4th WXRL
Bobby Jenks, 10th VORP, 3rd WXRL

Last year I went with twelve pitchers per team. Taking five relievers and seven starters does the trick. I have five starters and two relievers already. To that I'll add Rivera, Nathan and Jenks, assuming Zumaya will be back and forcing Putz to prove himself over a full season.

I now need two more starters. The next two guys on the VORP list are Curt Schilling and Justin Verlander. I like the Verlander pick, but Schilling. Ech. John Lackey is second in the league in ERA, but that's due to a suspect .228 opponent's average on balls in play (or BIPA, a shorter and catchier version of BABIP, as in, "yo, what's Moose's BIPA numba?"). The next man on the ERA list is Mike Mussina, who also leads the league in quality starts (one ahead of Schilling). Moose is also the top man in WHIP who hasn't made my squad. The top unselected man in terms of defense-independent ERA, however, is Jeremy Bonderman (which is odd as the Tigers lead the majors in defensive efficiency). Bonderman and Lackey both finish between Schilling and Moose in VORP, and Lackey, Bonderman and Mussina, in that order, finish ahead of Schilling in Component ERA (ERA based on component stats, such as hits and walks, rather than actual runs allowed). Dan Haren and C.C. Sabathia are also hanging out on the fringe of this discussion. Schilling, Mussina and Verlander all have ten wins and either three or four losses and Schilling has seven more strikeouts than Mussina in five more innings.

Aw nyertz, I gotta go with Schilling. Moose's .254 BIPA is less sustainable than Schilling's .282, and Schillings 15 walks in 127 1/3 innings just can't be messed with. That's a 7.67 K/BB ratio. Sick.

Okay, that's eight of my last ten spots. Let's add an extra catcher for logistical reasons and because Pudge was such a ridiculous choice by the fans. Victor Martinez is the best hitting catcher available, but his inability to throw out runners is absolutely crippling. Michael Napoli's been gangbusters for the Angels, but his major league career consists of 170 plate appearances and PECOTA suggests he's playing even farther over his head than you might expect. Which brings us to Jorge Posada, my man.

Finally, the best hitter not to make my team is been Jason Giambi, but I already have three first-basemen. That eliminates Paul Konerko as well. Carl Crawford and Alexis Rios have had worthy seasons in the outfield, but I already have seven outfielders. What I need most is another middle-infielder and above Konerko, Crawford and Rios on the VORP list is Carlos Guillen (.298/.379/.497, 12 SB), appropriately another member of the team with the league's best record.

So my final roster:

1B – David Ortiz (Bos)
2B – Mark Loretta (Bos)
SS – Derek Jeter (NYY)
3B – Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
C – Ivan Rodriguez (Det)
RF – Ichiro Suzuki (Sea)
CF – Vernon Wells (Tor)
LF – Vladimir Guerrero (Ana)

1B – Travis Hafner (Cle)
1B – Jim Thome (Chi)
2B – Brian Roberts (Bal)
SS – Miguel Tejada (Bal)
SS – Carlos Guillen (Det)
3B – Mike Lowell (Bos)
C – Joe Mauer (Min)
C – Jorge Posada (NYY)
OF – Jermaine Dye (Chi)
OF – Grady Sizemore (Cle)
OF – Gary Matthews Jr. (Tex)
OF – David DeJesus (KC)

SP – Roy Halladay (Tor)
SP – Johan Santana (Min)
SP – Francisco Liriano (Min)
SP – Barry Zito (Oak)
SP – Curt Schilling (Bos)
SP – Justin Verlander (Det)
SP – Scott Kazmir (TB)
RP – Jonathan Papelbon (Bos)
RP – B.J. Ryan (Tor)
RP - Mariano Rivera (NYY)
RP - Joe Nathan (Min)
RP - Bobby Jenks (Chi)

DL – Manny Ramirez, Robinson Cano

On second thought, dump Kazmir and give me Carl Crawford (.319/.359/.521, 32 SB) as the Ray's rep.

So let's compare my roster to the actual roster.

We agree on Mauer, Thome, Cano, Tejada, Dye, Matthews, Sizemore, Wells, Halladay, Jenks, Liriano, Papelbon, Rivera, Ryan, Santana and Zito (though it's worth pointing out that Liriano only made it because Jose Contreras begged out because he pitched on Sunday).

Here's where we differ. In place of Schilling and Verlander, Ozzie Guillen took his own Mark Buehrle and misbegotten Royals rep Mark Redman. Awful. In place of Nathan, the players voted in Kenny Rogers, who due to rest issues will actually start tonight. Notice that Rodgers never came up in the above discussion, but two other Tiger starters who didn't make the actual AL roster did. In place of Hafner, Guillen took his own Paul Konerko. Offensive. In place of Roberts as Cano's replacement, the AL has Jose Lopez. In place of Carlos Guillen and Mike Lowell, the players elected Michael Young and Troy Glaus. I can deal with those three. The Players also voted in Kazmir and Alexis Rios ahead of Crawford and when Rios was unable to play due to injury, Magglio Ordonez was the replacement chosen. Kazmir and Rios I'm fine with, Mags, again, didn't even cross my radar. The final vote gave fans a chance to elect Hafner, Liriano (who wound up going anyway) or Verlander, but they passed over all of them, instead choosing A.J. Pierzynski, who was listed along with fellow catcher Ramon Hernandez with Jorge Posada nowhere to be found. Between Pudge and A.J. it's as if they chose the AL catchers out of a hat. At least Mauer will be there, though he was such an obvious choice that even having to say that bothers me.

2006-07-11 03:14:47
1.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I still disagree with Loretta over Lopez, Lopez have a higher OPS, more RBI AND HR, and scored more runs. in terms of overall value he is way ahead of Loretta, their defense have been around the same too. his only downside is low OBP, though I'd think that wouldn't be as much as a difference as 21 RBI, 4 Runs and 6 more HR.

There have also been a few guys more valuable than Vlad and Sizemore, though u can't take out Vlad... but Crawford / Ibanez etc have been better than those two... I'd think at least one of them should have been in... you could either dump Ichiro or Kazmir for those two, though Ichiro and Kazmir are quite worthy as well.

All in all, I think the most unworthy person in both list still is Mark Loretta, Aside obvously from Roberts / Lopez / Cano, even Tadahito Iguchi have been decisively better, better OPS, better defense, more Extra base hits, 3 times as much HR, more RBI and runs, more stolen bases even.

What exactly is the advantage of Loretta? in the above group i've meantioned, he has the lowest OPS, only more HR than Roberts (whom have had far fewer ABs... and is the only one in this group with serious speed), less RBIs and runs scored than Iguchi and Lopez (a reason also why I didn't agree with Cano selection also, he simply isn't getting guys back in.) by far the worest ISOP in a hitters park surronded by great hitters.

I'm guess ur simply going with Loretta based on votes?

2006-07-11 06:46:15
2.   Sliced Bread
I admire your baseball logic and objectivitiy here, Cliff. Excellent take on the All-Stars American League style.

Ortiz starting at first, awesome as his stick is, is just wrong. He's an All-Star alright, but plays like a whale out of water at first. Big fella should be yanked for defensive purposes by the third inning, latest.

Hafner and Crawford stand out to me as the most All-Star worthy AL guys who got hosed.

My Yankeecentric two cents: I'll take Mussina, even Wang over Schilling, and Posada over any of 'em any day.

Met props: David Wright is one of the easiest players in the game to root for.

Sarcastic Cheapshot: Paul Lo Duca's home run derby pitches looked liked Randy Johnson's slider on a bad day.

2006-07-11 07:09:14
3.   Shaun P
Cliff, your method of filling out the roster - start with the best players on the worst teams, then add in from there - makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than how its actually done. I would picked Moose over Schilling, and found a way to work Verlander in, but that's just me.

2 Sliced, someone suggested that Jose Lima should pitch to Wright in the HR derby - there'd be no way he could lose then! When I pointed this out to my old roommate, a huge Mets fan, he said, "Lima would miss the plate so much, Wright would get tired just standing there waiting for an easy meatball he could crush. Too bad walks don't count."

2006-07-11 07:18:01
4.   Sliced Bread
3 "Too bad walks don't count." That's great!

Actually, if Lima pitched last night, Dontrelle "Grand Slam" Willis might have won the HR derby.

2006-07-11 07:24:26
5.   Alex Belth
Even though the AL is stacked, the contrarian in me says the NL wins tonight.
2006-07-11 07:56:29
6.   Sliced Bread
5 The NL could win, but the way I see it, here's a slightly more likely scenario: Selig suddenly ends the game in a fifth-inning tie, granting Boston home field advantage, and choice of opponents for the rest of the season -- October too, if necessary.
2006-07-11 08:03:14
7.   standuptriple
6 I was envisioning a similar scenario. I'd love to see Ozzie make a stupid mistake and cost the AL the game. I really can't stand him.
2006-07-11 08:13:16
8.   murphy
any thoughts on Billy Beane wanting to shake ozzie's hand?

my thought = horrendous.

2006-07-11 08:14:39
9.   Dimelo
Can anyone point me to a good website where I can look at the Yankees (or any team) pitching and how they did vs. teams with a .500 record or better and how they did against teams with less than a .500 record?


2006-07-11 08:49:16
10.   Cliff Corcoran
1, 2 yes, as per the rules I set down, the player vote locked me into Loretta and Ortiz, as well as Vlad, Ichiro and Pudge. Given the opportunity to set the starters as well, Pudge and Ortiz for sure would not have even made the team. I didn't look closely enough at Loretta, Vlad or Ichiro, but of the three I seem to recall that Ichiro has the best case.
2006-07-11 09:12:21
11.   Shaun P
9 Dimelo, I don't know where to get that info, sorry! - but I did look at BP's "Quality of Hitters a Pitcher Has Faced" (min 50 IP, AL only):

35. Moose, .772
39. Scott Proctor (!), .770
42. Tiger Wang, .769
53. Jaret Wright, .764
66. Randy Johnson, .754
69. Shawn Chacon, .749

There were only 70 AL pitchers who qualified with 50+ IP. I checked, and the only guy on the list who hasn't started a game this year is Proctor.

I wondered if this meant that Proctor was facing too many good hitters, and thus pitching in lots of high leverage situations. But I checked, and according to BP's "Leverage" stat, Mo, Farnsworth, and Mike Myers all have a higher "Leverage" than Scott "Do I look like Paul Quantril?" Proctor.

Also, FWIW, Farnsworth has a higher OPS of hitters faced (.777 in almost 40 IP) as does Mo (.772 in 46 IP). I feel a little better now.

2006-07-11 09:29:25
12.   YankeeInMichigan
I realize that it's not politically correct to defend Ozzie Guillen, but he was a bit constrained by the fans' and players' snubbing of Grady Sizemore. If Ozzie hadn't had to use one of his selections on Sizemore, he would have been able to either a) put DeJesus in the outfield as the token Royal and let another deserving pitcher onto the staff or b) put Matthews in the outfield as the token Ranger and make Guillen the #3 shortstop (when he eventually selected Matthews to take Rios' spot, he had already named Young to the team).

I agree that Ozzie's selections of Konerko over Haffner and Buehrle over Liriano/Verlander/Haren/Mussina/Schilling/Bonderman/Robertson/Sabathia were reprehensible.

As of last week, Ordonez was 20th among AL outfielders in VORP. Thames was 9th and Granderson was 12th. So from a VORP perspective, the Tigers have their #4 starter and #3 outfielder on the roster.

2006-07-11 09:44:55
13.   YankeeInMichigan
2021: Travis Hafner retires with a 1.000+ OPS.

2027: The BBWAA bypasses Hafner for the Hall of Fame because he never played in the All-Star Game.

2006-07-11 09:45:25
14.   Cliff Corcoran
12 Agreed. I wasn't playing by Ozzie's rules as I threw out the player vote and did it "old school" with the manager (in this fantasy, me) selecting all of the pitchers and reserves. That said, I would rather have seen Sizemore snubbed to keep someone as poor as Redman off the roster. Grady will be back and Hafner should have been the Indians rep.

What none of us have come out and said here is that the player vote is not an improvment on the old system. The players voted in Ordonez, Rodgers and Contreras, none of whom deserve to be there, snubbing Sizemore, Hafner and the list of pitchers in 12 among others.

2006-07-11 09:47:35
15.   Cliff Corcoran
13 Funny. That said, I expect Hafner and Ortiz to decline as fast as they broke out and that neither will reach the Hall because they were DHs who had short productive phases in their careers.
2006-07-11 09:48:41
16.   Cliff Corcoran
15 All the more urgency for electing Hafner this year after he was also snubbed last year.
2006-07-11 09:55:52
17.   YankeeInMichigan
15 Any reason to believe that Ortiz and Hafner won't be able to sustain their peaks as long Thomas and Martinez (granted, these two will probably just miss the HoF as well)?
2006-07-11 09:56:54
18.   Simone
I really miss seeing Peter Gammons all over ESPN, especially with the All Star festivities here. I keep expecting him to pop up and then I remember that he is ill. Gammons makes me crazy with his Red Sox homerism, but he is a baseball institution. I hope that he recovers soon.
2006-07-11 10:01:15
19.   Zack
15 Ah yes, but you foget that Ortiz's "clutchness" will carry him into the hall even if he retired today...

17 Edgar was a pure hitter, whereas Ortiz especially relies on his quickness and strength to hit for power. If those HR suddenly go 10 or so feet less, or don't get pulled as much, all of a sudden he is hitting a lot of flyball outs, and as his average always hovers around .300 to begind with, you have a large DH not hitting for average and moderate power...

But of course, the players seem to have ways of avoiding said slowing down these days, wink wink...

2006-07-11 10:35:23
20.   bloodyank78
15 That will be a relief when his bat speed starts to slow and his ability to turn on one diminishes. I hope you're right Cliff. Ortiz has been a large source of pain for me since 2004. He's only 30 though, so I don't expect it to occur anytime soon, ie no sooner than 2008.
2006-07-11 10:55:18
21.   JL25and3
At age 30, Ortiz only has 2 - arguably 3 - peak seasons under his (substantial) belt. I'd be very surprised if he's still doing this at 37 or so.

This year, he's on a pace to roughly duplicate last year's stats. Another 5 years or so and you can start comparing him with Thomas. At that, Thomas didn't get to play in Fenway.

2006-07-11 11:19:12
22.   Dimelo
Who cares when Ortiz peaked or didn't peak, or at what age it happened, or what he'll be doing when he's 37 or an AARP member.

All I know is that he's mashing right now. He feasts on Yankee pitching and has the flare for the dramatic. I can't hate on him, or the fact that he plays in Fenway. There have been plenty of ball players that played at Fenway that haven't done what Ortiz has done the past 3 years.

It sucks because anytime Ortiz is mentioned, it seems to spark an ARod debate. I can appreciate both, ARod and Ortiz. I don't want Ortiz to beat the Yanks, but I don't hate on him or try and downplay anything he's done.

2006-07-11 11:28:15
23.   JL25and3
22 Easy, now. No one made a comparison with ARod, and no one was trying to minimize what he's doing now. The discussion was specifically about DHs and the Hall of Fame.
2006-07-11 11:28:39
24.   DarrenF
I think the Yankees would pay $10 mill per year to get Ortiz out of the American League.
2006-07-11 11:30:38
25.   Dimelo
23 Sorry...I noticed I came across with a bad tone. Just saying that it seems that any comment about Ortiz seems to have a negative connotation.
2006-07-11 11:35:19
26.   Shaun P
17 If the Hall of Fame does not include Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez, then it truly is unworthy of its name.

Not that isn't pretty close to that already.

22 Dimelo, that's the best post I've ever read on Ortiz/A-Rod. Well said.

(Except that I am interested in what Ortiz will do at age 37, and how his career might be considered historically, though. That sort of stuff just interests me.)

2006-07-11 11:35:29
27.   DarrenF
17 Frank Thomas? I always thought he was a HOF shoo-in.

On a side note, isn't Frank Thomas largely responsible for shrinking the strike zone? By arguing about every single belt-high pitch? Thereby changing the game more than any person since Abner Doubleday?

Edgar will probably make it eventually and get a ton of votes for being a nice guy.

I saw an poll where Edgar beat out Griffey. Not a scientific poll, I understand, but the whims of the public sometimes match the whims of the voters.

2006-07-11 11:45:17
28.   Cliff Corcoran
I think Frank Thomas is a Hall of Famer. Edgar Martinez's candidacy will likely set the standard for DHs with anything less than inner circle numbers.

Ortiz's rate stats are actually down this year. Could be he's already coming back to earth just a tad.

2006-07-11 11:54:23
29.   YankeeInMichigan
27 I agree that Thomas is HoF-worthy, but he has tarnished his legacy with injuries and bickering (which make his post-2000 decline look more dramatic than it has really been). The bad taste left by the 21st century Thomas could lead many writers to forget the Thomas of the 90s.
2006-07-11 12:03:25
30.   DarrenF
29 Naturally, I looked up Thomas's stats becuase of this discussion. I had forgotten about his 1994 season, for obvious reasons. Still, those are nice stats even if the season was 162 games.

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