Last year I posted this attempt to get Indians fans to the polls (website) to vote for their favorite Indians to be in the All-Star game. I waited this long to write one this season because it simply doesn’t matter. The Indians only have a few players worthy of an All-Star spot and only two of those play in positions you can vote for. In both of these positions they are being blocked by Yankees who they are arguably better then. The difference between the top Yankee and the nearest Indian: about 2.5 million votes. Go ahead and vote your 50 times, but remember each time you do there are 50,000 Yankee fans doing the same thing. With the system set up the way it is the Indians are likely never to have another All-Star starter. Even if they don’t get voted in, here are the Tribe players that deserve a spot on this year’s squad.
Derek Jeter has played better this season than last, and Asdrubal Cabrera has played worse, but there shouldn’t be much question about which one is currently the superior short stop. Last season Jeter pulled himself out of the game as he believes himself to good for All-Stars and it allowed Cabrera to start as he should have been voted for in the first place. This year, 2.57 million votes separate the Yankee captain from the young Venezuelan. Cabrera currently leads all AL shortstops in OBP, SLG, and OPS and is second in home runs (to J.J. Hardy who has no chance of making the team), RBI (to Mike Aviles who has little chance of making the team), and doubles (also to Aviles). The leading vote getter has managed a .305 batting average (top for all AL shortstops) mostly by hitting singles. Jeter has 92 hits, but only 19 of them have been for extra bases compared to Cabrera with 72 hits, 27 beings for extra bases. Playing in the powerful Yankee lineup has allowed Jeter to rack up some impressive run totals as well, but Asdrubal has played a much more important role on his team in the number two and three spots in the lineup. In total production Asdrubal leads as well with 60 runs created (R + RBI – HR) to Jeter’s 58. Another player that has not been mentioned, but is also deserving of a spot (and more deserving than Jeter) is the Rangers Elvis Andrus. Andrus leads the group in runs scored, triples and steals and is tied with Asdrubal in doubles. He leads all short stops in runs created with 72.
Slightly more deserving, but less likely to make the team is Vinnie Pestano. Pestano leads the majors in holds and has the third best ERA (1.86) and second best WHIP (1.00) among the American Leagues top ten set-up men. Of course fans cannot vote for pitchers, so he will have to be chosen by the American League players and coaches, but they do tend to pick one or two set up men per season. Currently he is pitching better than all but about four closers (one of which I will write about later) so he definitely has an outside chance at the team. With a current K/9 of 10.86 there are no other late inning relievers in Pestano’s class.
This is one match-up where the Yankees have a little bit of an argument. Currently Ian Kinsler (Texas) leads Robinson Cano in the voting at second base even though Cano is above Kinsler in almost every statistical category. Both players are almost 2 million votes ahead of Kipnis however and he is just as deserving as either. Kipnis currently leads all AL second basemen in steals (4 more than Kinsler and has been caught 4 less times), and RBI. He is second in home runs (to Cano), triples (to Jemile Weeks) and is third in runs scored behind both Kinsler and Cano. Kipnis has been the driving force behind the Indians offense all season long. His low batting average (.276) may keep some voters away, but it really shows what he has been able to do with the hits he has gotten. Kipnis has also been amazing with the glove this season and he leads all the All-Star candidates with a .991 fielding percentage (just 3 errors in 329 total chances. A solid second baseman is a key succeeding with to the way the Indians have their starting rotation set-up and Kipnis has been more than spectacular. Kipnis has a fairly good chance at making the All-Star team as a reserve or being on the final vote ballot that will be announced after the teams are decided.
One of the closers who could be considered better than Pestano is the Indians own Chris Perez. Perez made the All-Star team last year and pitched a single inning, allowing one hit and recording a strike out. Perez currently leads the world in saves and is only 13 shy of his total for all of last year. He has also dropped his ERA from last season almost a full run (to 2.54) and has only blown one save, his first attempt of the season. This gives him a streak of 23 straight saves. His WHIP has also improved this year and is even slightly better than Pestano at 0.99. Both he and Pestano are the absolute best at what they do right now. If the Indians only get one All-Star this year, it will be Chris Perez.