Selecting scrubs could actually achieve All-Star goals
Posted: Monday June 16, 2003 3:53 PM
Updated: Monday June 16, 2003 4:22 PM
Paul Konerko has little shot at returning to the All-Star Game with an average below .200. Jeff Gross/Getty Images
By James Quintong, SI.com
Letting the fans pick the starting lineups for the All-Star Game has always been a shaky proposition. Many times the most popular players get elected, no matter their stats, and there have always been incidents of ballot stuffing. So baseball's decision to give this year's winning league at home-field advantage at the World Series adds another wrinkle to the voting process.
If you really want your league to get home-field advantage at the World Series, wouldn't it be in your best interest to vote for the worst players in the other league while pumping up your own? If you're a Braves fan, you might want to vote for as many Tigers as possible. Forget a fair fight, you want your league to win by any means necessary.
Purposely voting for anti-All-Stars is nothing new. A few years ago, the Denver Broncos were accused of voting for bench-warmers for the Pro Bowl to help the chances of their teammates. No team can pick its own players, so by choosing a player with no chance at getting in, it could help swing a close vote to their guy.
In a strange way, this unorthodox voting approach could play into baseball's hands, given the way the game has evolved in recent years.
By getting some scrubs from the Indians or Pirates into the starting lineup, you fill that quota of having at least one player from every team that many fans seem to despise. All the other "deserving" players from pennant contenders will get selected anyway, because managers would be forced to pick the best of the best if they want a chance at winning the game.
With the way the game is managed lately, it's the reserves, not the fans' choices, who ultimately decide the game anyway. Get the lesser guys out early and have the rest of the game played by the "real" stars. Many baseball fans would gladly stay up late knowing that Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds could come up in the ninth inning with a chance at winning the game, instead of seeing Randy Winn or A.J. Pierzynski, who were in the game late in last year's debacle.
This week's Power Rankings gives you suggestions for players worthy of your vote from each team should you want to follow the anti-All-Star route. We're going off the official ballot, so unfortunately, there aren't any pitchers on this list. You've got at least 25 votes to play with, so exercise your baseball civic duty. (All stats through Sunday's games.)
SI.com's Power Rankings
Seattle Mariners Jeff Cirillo. His dropoff since joining Seattle is mind-boggling. After hitting .317 from 1996-2001, he's hitting just .246 with the M's, including a .236 mark this year.
Atlanta Braves Robert Fick. Only he and Vinny Castilla are not All-Star material from this lineup. Fick gets the nod because he would be the token Brave on this roster, much like he was the token Tiger at last year's All-Star Game.
San Francisco Giants Edgardo Alfonzo. He was supposed to provide Barry Bonds some protection in the lineup. Instead, he hasn't gotten his batting average above .250 all season.
Boston Red Sox Jeremy Giambi. While Boston is hitting close to .300 as a team, Giambi has been below the Mendoza line almost the whole season.
New York Yankees Derek Jeter. Another team with few worthy candidates. Jeter gets the nod because he's still trying to warm up after coming back from a dislocated shoulder. His on-base percentage is a little lower than usual and it wasn't helped by that stretch of strikeout-filled games early last week.
Los Angeles Dodgers Adrian Beltre. Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis don't provide much offense, but it isn't expected of them. Beltre, who's always had lots of promise, has just four homers and one of the lowest batting averages in the NL.
Oakland Athletics Jermaine Dye. Sure, he missed most of May with a knee injury, but other than a walkoff homer against the Braves, his offense has been nonexistent. He hasn't hit above .200 since April 20.
Minnesota Twins Luis Rivas. Neither he nor double-play partner Cristian Guzman has set the world on fire at the plate, but at least Guzman has nine triples. Rivas has a very low .653 OPS and just four steals to go with it.
Toronto Blue Jays Eric Hinske. Last year's AL Rookie of the Year has gone through a sophomore slump, hitting just two homers with a .232 average before being sidelined last month with a broken hand.
Montreal Expos Michael Barrett. Many catchers on the ballot are bad, but a .156 average is truly miserable. Surprisingly, it's not the worst among regular catchers.
Chicago Cubs Mark Bellhorn. Last year, he surprised many by hitting 27 homers. This year, he's lost his starting third base job as he fights to stay above .200.
Houston Astros Brad Ausmus. He's always been renowned for his defense, but his .552 OPS ranks as the worst in the NL among hitters eligible for the batting title.
St. Louis Cardinals Tino Martinez. It's hard to find any duds in the lineup, but Martinez gets the nod by default because his numbers pale in comparison to his heavy-hitting teammates.
Anaheim Angels Scott Spiezio. He had a career year in 2002, when he drove in 82. This year, he's down to just 21 RBIs and a mediocre .255 average.
Kansas City Royals Ken Harvey. Like the rest of the team, Harvey has slowed down after a fast start. His last homer was May 10; his last RBI was May 18. Plus, he has the embarrassment of being stuck behind the tarp after making a catch.
Cincinnati Reds Brandon Larson. He's mired in the minors after starting the season 4-for-48, earning an undeserved quick hook. But that's more than enough to get a spot on this team.
Colorado Rockies Jose Hernandez. Even when he was whiffing up a storm in Milwaukee, he still was a threat to hit 25 homers. He has a whopping 92 K's this year and just eight homers.
Arizona Diamondbacks Danny Bautista. He's finally healthy and playing every day. Unfortunately, he's done very little given the opportunity, as he has just one homer and a .297 on-base percentage.
New York Mets Rey Sanchez. Mo Vaughn's status is up in the air or else he'd be an easy choice. But Sanchez, who's improved to .225 and has been a headache in the locker room, makes for another fine pick.
Baltimore Orioles Gary Matthews Jr. He's actually played well since being picked up by the Padres, but it barely improves upon the .204 average he had when Baltimore let him go.
Florida Marlins Todd Hollandsworth. While he leads the team with 22 doubles, he's provided little else on offense -- just two homers and 14 RBIs in 172 at-bats -- and is in a 2-for-30 slump this month.
Pittsburgh Pirates Jack Wilson. Pokey Reese (.215 average) would've been the choice here had he been healthy. Instead, Wilson gets the nod with a .682 OPS, which is a career high. Enough said.
Milwaukee Brewers Jeffrey Hammonds. The Brewers decided to eat his huge contract and let him go, rather than put up with a .158-1-3 performance.
Texas Rangers Doug Glanville. In a lineup full of mashers, Glanville's .191 average and even more pathetic .217 on-base percentage sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, Mark Teixeira's emergence will keep Glanville out of the starting lineup.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Al Martin. He hit well early in the season, but he's seen less and less playing time since Ben Grieve returned from the DL and hasn't driven in a run since May 7. How he ended up on the ballot is the bigger question.
San Diego Padres Mark Kotsay. While he did miss more than two weeks with a back injury, Kotsay has just one homer and six RBIs in 165 at-bats and hasn't driven in a run since April 20.
Detroit Tigers Brandon Inge. Almost any Tiger on the ballot except Dmitri Young and maybe Bobby Higginson is worthy of attention, but we'll take Inge and his .152 average, worst among all regular catchers.