American League All-Stars
The All-Star Game is more than a month away, but balloting already is under way. Need help? Here are our picks. For the National League, click here. (Stats through June 10.)
The game's leading RBI man (and tied for tops in home runs), Delgado is having a run reminiscent of his 2000 season. He finished with a .344 average that year, with 41 homers and 137 RBIs, and was fourth in the MVP voting. Delgado has been superb in the clutch in the first half for the powerful Blue Jays, hitting .477 with runners in scoring position, the best in the business. Kansas City's Mike Sweeney will make a nice backup at first base. But he's way, waaay back.
New York's Alfonso Soriano gets all the pub, but Boone has him beat in just about every offensive category but homers (and he's only one shy there). Boone, who had an "off" year in '02 with only 24 homers and 107 RBIs, is well on his way to getting back to his All-Star numbers of '01 (.331, 37 homers, 141 RBIs). Soriano's the second choice here, but he's not hitting as well, he has more errors (Boone's made only one) and he strikes out more. That's why the Yankee is second choice.
This is a close one, maybe the race most likely to change in the next couple of weeks. But Texas' Blalock is our choice over Boston's Bill Mueller (who has a slightly better average but not as good power numbers) and Anaheim's Troy Glaus (who has slightly better power numbers but not nearly as good of a batting average). Blalock has cooled off from a sizzling April (.388), but he's still going to hit, especially in that lineup. His glove needs a little work (10 errors).
Five shortstops made the AL team last year -- but not this time. A-Rod is the starter over Boston's Nomar Garciaparra, mainly because Rodriguez has a few more homers and a higher on-base percentage (he's walked more than twice as much as Nomar). A-Rod also has only three errors, to Nomar's nine. Oakland's Miguel Tejada is rebounding, but a slow start hurts the reigning MVP. An early injury knocks New York's Derek Jeter out. (The fifth SS in '02 was Cleveland's Omar Vizquel, who will sit this time.)
We'll watch this one closely, too, because Toronto's Greg Myers, with a .361 average, deserves a look. But he doesn't play as much as Posada, who leads AL backstops in homers, RBIs and has almost twice as many walks as any other catcher in the league. Some might make a case for Minnesota's A.J. Pierzynski, but his power numbers just aren't there. This would be the fourth consecutive All-Star appearance for Posada, who will make the club even if no one votes for him.
You can make your arguments for a lot of different people in the outfield. We tab the versatile Mora because he has the best average in the AL, which helps him to the best on-base percentage among regulars (.466, second only to Barry Bonds in the majors) and the best combined slugging and on-base percentage in the AL. He doesn't have great power numbers, but he edges out some fine players -- Anaheim's Garet Anderson, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, Texas' Juan Gonzalez and Carl Everett -- in our outfield.
He's second behind Delgado in the majors in RBIs, which is why he's here. He's tied for 10th in homers in the AL, leads the league in doubles, is second in extra-base hits and third in total bases. He's also tied for the lead in sacrifice flies. Wells averages an RBI every 4.6 at-bats. Lots of guys have a higher average -- competition is fierce -- but few have Wells' all-around game. Like Mora, another of our starting outfielders, this would be Wells' first All-Star appearance.
He's not the best defensively, granted, but Ramirez can hit and hit with power and, better yet, do it in the clutch (.415 with runners in scoring position). He's among the Top 5 AL outfielders in homers and RBIs and the Top 10 in average and on-base percentage. He's second, to Mora, in combined on base and slugging percentage among regular AL outfielders. Again, others not in our picks have more homers or RBIs. Not many can give you everything that Ramirez does.
Voters pick a designated hitter in the AL, but not the NL, even though the NL will use one in this game because it's in an AL park (U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago). The Big Hurt, Chicago's Frank Thomas, should get a look here, but no one matches Martinez, maybe the best DH ever. He leads DHs in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and batting average and he's second to Thomas in on-base percentage. He hits, which is what a DH is supposed to do. He hits .411 with runners in scoring position.
No, fans don't get to pick the starting pitcher. That will be up to Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager who will be the skipper for the AL. But, hey, if we did get to pick, Moyer would be the choice. His 10 wins top the majors, opponents are hitting only .223 off him (only Oakland's Barry Zito and Chicago's Esteban Loaiza are better among starters). Plus, c'mon, the guy is 40 years old and he's never been an All-Star. Right now, it's between Moyer and Loaiza. Moyer deserves the start.
He's slipped behind Texas' Ugueth Urbina in saves in the AL, but Guardado is doing it all for AL Central-leading Minnesota. He's walked only four hitters in 26 2/3 innings, he's struck out 26 (both better marks than Urbina) and opponents are hitting just .218 off him. Neither Urbina or "Everyday" Eddie is as dominant as those NL guys, but they get the job done and both could find themselves on the AL roster this season. The rosters for both leagues, by the way, increase from 30 to 32 players.