November 25, 2014

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Indians: Picking the All-Star starters

The All-Star starters for the American and National Leagues will be announced Sunday. A final update on fan voting results was released this week, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Jason Kipnis ranked fourth at their respective positions.

That means the Indians are guaranteed of just one representative at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on July 10.

Should they have more? Maybe. Kipnis is certainly All-Star worthy, and Cabrera’s numbers are as good as any other AL shortstop — minus the whopping nine errors (what’s up with that?). Setup men are rarely selected, but Vinnie Pestano has been one of the league’s best relievers, period.

But with plenty of competition at every position and a second-place standing in the weak Central Division, the Indians figure to be left taking their one representative and liking it in the form of closer Chris Perez.

Ironically enough, it will be the fiery right-hander, who has called out fans and opposing players the like throughout a tumultuous and highly successful first-half run, flying solo in KC. Perez led the AL with 23 saves through Friday, converting 23 straight since Opening Day.

Here is how things should have played out, in regards to the AL’s starting lineup:

FIRST BASE

The candidates: Prince Fielder, Detroit (.297, 12 HR, 51 RBIs), Paul Konerko, Chicago (.337, 14 HR, 40 RBIs), Albert Pujols, Los Angeles (.273, 12 HR, 47 RBIs).

Indians’ rep: Casey Kotchman (.228, 6 HR, 27 RBIs). A Gold Glove? Yes. An All-Star nod? No.

Fan’s pick: Fielder

The right choice: Konerko. It’s a close race out of the gate, but I’m leaning toward Konerko on the merit of his batting average (.337 through Friday and OPS of .976).

SECOND BASE

The candidates: Robinson Cano, New York (.305, 18 HR, 43 RBIs), Ian Kinsler, Texas (.277, 9 HR, 38 RBIs, 15 SB), Jason Kipnis, Cleveland (.279, 11 HR, 45 RBIs, 18 SB).

Indians’ rep: Kipnis. If his batting average were higher, Kipnis would have a better claim. Still, he’s been one of the best at his position, and if the Indians get two to the dance, he’s the likely choice after Perez.

Fan’s pick: Cano

The right choice: Cano. Sorry, Tribe fans. Though you have Kipnissed a darn good season from your second baseman thus far, it hasn’t been better than Cano’s.

SHORTSTOP

The candidates: Derek Jeter, New York (.303. 7 HR, 25 RBIs), Elvis Andrus, Texas (.302, 1 HR, 31 RBIs, 16 SB), Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (.292, 11 HR, 38 RBIs), Mike Aviles, Boston (.267, 9 HR, 43 RBIs).

Indians’ rep: Cabrera. Last year’s AL starter in place of an injured Jeter has put up solid first-half numbers and his offensive numbers compare, but he’s been shoddy defensively, and has no rightful claim to a repeat nod.

Fan’s pick: Andrus

The right choice: Andrus. All of the candidates are worthy, just seems like outside of hitting homers, Elvis does it all.

THIRD BASE

The candidates: Adrian Beltre, Texas (.325, 13 HR, 51 RBIs), Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (.309, 16 HR, 62 RBIs), Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles (.314, 19 HR, 53 RBIs).

Indians’ rep: Jack Hannahan (.248, 3 HR, 18 RBIs). Injured for an extended spell, Supermanahan has been far from the man of steel this year.

Fan’s pick: Beltre

The right choice: Beltre. You can’t go wrong with any of the three candidates. All are All-Star worthy. But if you’re looking for an edge, Beltre is the better defender, hands down.

CATCHER

The candidates: Mike Napoli, Texas (.237, 12 HR, 30 RBIs), Joe Mauer, Minnesota (.324, 3 HR, 35 RBIs), A.J Pierzynski, Chicago (.285, 14 HR, 45 RBIs).

Indians’ rep: Carlos Santana (.220, 5 HR, 29 RBIs). Starting to look more like an average player rather than a potential All-Star.

Fan’s pick: Napoli

The right choice: Hated or not, Pierzynski deserves the All-Star start. After all, this isn’t a popularity contest — oh, wait.

DESIGNATED HITTER

The candidates: David Ortiz, Boston (.307, 21 HR, 53 RBIs), Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto (.289, 22 HR, 55 RBIs), Adam Dunn, Chicago (.215, 24 HR, 58 RBIs).

Fan’s pick: Ortiz

Indians’ rep: Travis Hafner (.242, 6 HR, 23 RBIs). On the disabled list, once again, Pronk couldn’t play in the game even if he were chosen, which he wouldn’t have been.

The right choice: Ortiz. Dunn, a strong early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, makes for the best story, and all of the choices are acceptable, but Big Papi is the only one hitting .300.

OUTFIELD

The candidates: Josh Hamilton, Texas (.316, 24 HR, 69 RBIs), Jose Bautista, Toronto (.238, 26 HR, 61 RBIs), Mike Trout, Los Angeles (.342, 8 HR, 32 RBIs, 22 SB), Curtis Granderson, New York (.242, 22 HR, 45 RBIs), Josh Willingham, Minnesota (.267, 15 HR, 50 RBIs), Adam Jones, Baltimore (.297, 19 HR, 41 RBIs).

Fan’s pick: Hamilton, Bautista, Granderson

Indians’ rep: Shin-Soo Choo (.282, 7 HR, 27 RBIs), Michael Brantley (.278, 1 HR, 35 RBIs), Shelley Duncan (.196, 4 HR, 13 RBIs). None of the the Tribe’s outfielders are All-Star worthy.

The right choice: Don’t have a problem with Hamilton and Bautista — two of the the AL’s top three run producers — but Trout deserves the nod over Granderson.

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.