We are about a month away from considering who should start in the All Star game. The fact that MLB.com opens the voting to fans in the month of May is (frankly) ridiculous. Players get off to fast starts or slow starts and there isn't a valid reason to vote with any kind of accuracy before the tail end of June. Voting ceases July 1, so the last two weeks of June is the only time MLB should begin voting.
Voting usually goes one of three traditional ways: 1. What's happening this year; 2. What's happened in a player's career and 3. Reputation. The first option is, at least for this Fan, the only option. We should be voting for the best players this year and not the best players last year or in the last decade. Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Chipper Jones, Jimmy Rollins, and players like them shouldn't get voted in unless they deserve to get in based on this year's numbers. Hey, that's the way the Fan sees it. If you want to fill the roster with fading stars, the Fan has no problem with that, but they shouldn't start.
The Fan bases his All Star vote strictly on WAR (wins over replacement). For batters, that strips out RBIs and other counting stats that are dependent on what others are doing in the line up. WAR is based on batting metrics and fielding metrics (for batter) and seems the best tool we currently have to value players and the kind of year they are having. The Fan also votes on outfielders by position instead of the great big blob they are on MLB's ticket.
Again, it's very early and for sure, parts of this mock ballot will change in three weeks. But if the game was played this week, this is who the Fan would vote for:
Catcher - Joe Mauer: He isn't quite as dominant this year as last, but he's ahead of everyone else.
First Base - Justin Morneau: Morneau has almost double the WAR of Kevin Youkilis. It's not even close right now.
Second Base - Robinson Cano: Duh, right?
Third Base - Evan Longoria: WAR sits at 2.5. Beltre is at 2.0.
Shortstop - Derek Jeter: The numbers are what the numbers are. Jeter is at 1.7. Elvis Andrus is the closest to him at 1.5.
Left Field - Carl Crawford: Nobody is even close to him.
Center Field - Alex Rios: His WAR is at 2.6. Gutierrez and Vernon Wells sit at 2.2 and 2.1 respectively.
Right Field - Nick Swisher: He is in a virtual tie on WAR with Magglio Ordonez at 2.1. The nod goes to Swisher as his value is slightly higher at $8.4 million compared to Ordonez at $8.2.
Starting Pitcher - Cliff Lee: His WAR is at 2.5. Ricky Romero sits right behind him at 2.4.
Catcher - Brian McCann: Yadier Molina has him on fielding, but McCann's bat gives him a higher value.
First Base - Joey Votto: Votto's current WAR is 9.7. Pujols is right on his tail with 9.4. This very well could change in a few weeks.
Second Base - Chase Utley: Utley is sitting at 2.5. The closest to him is Dan Uggla at 1.9.
Third Base - Ryan Zimmerman: Has a .8 lead on David Freese who is the closest to him.
Shortstop - Troy Tulowitki: This one is close. Tulo's WAR is 1.8. Hanley Ramirez is at 1.6.
Left Field - Josh Willingham: This one is VERY close. Willingham is at 2.1 and trailing just behind are Matt Holiday and Andres Torres of the Giants at 2.0. Willingham and Holliday are piling up the offensive numbers while Torres has been solid at the plate, but is having a fantastic year in the field.
Center Field - Angel Pagan and Marlon Byrd are in a dead heat at 2.0. Pretty weak year for NL center fielders so far.
Right Field - Jason Heyward: Heyward sits on top with a WAR of 2.1.
Starting Pitcher - Roy Halladay: This one was a slight surprise. Halladay has a WAR of 3.2. Ubaldo Jiminez sits at 2.8.
Just for the record, the two most valuable relief pitchers currently are Jonathan Broxton, who is having another brilliant year, and Joel Zumaya, who despite not closing, leads all AL relief pitchers in WAR.
The Fan will revisit these picks and make an official ballot in the third week of June. Vote your conscious, but vote educated!