My Initial 2016 MLB All-Star Game Ballot

We aren’t even a month into the baseball season, and the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game ballot has already been released. I feel it’s a little too early to be casting votes for the Midsummer Classic, as some superstar players have gotten off to rough starts and will likely get back to their former glory by the time the All-Star game arrives on July 12th out in San Diego, while some previously unknown players who have busted out of the gate will likely be merely trickling along by that time.San Diego

But even so, I decided to go ahead and post a blog on the subject, regardless of the earliness of it all.

Voting itself is simple. Although there are no longer paper ballots that you can pick up and fill out at your local ballpark, you can head over to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You can vote up to 5 times per day, and 35 times total, for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until June 30th.)

Due to the All-Star game still being over two months away, I divided things up a bit this year. I’m going to go ahead and cast 15 votes for the players I feel are All-Star worthy as of now (the players discussed below), with a plan to go back and cast my other 20 available votes in the final week leading up to the actual game. Odds are, at least a few of them will be different, but as for right now, here are the players at each position that I feel are deserving of playing in the 2016 MLB All-Star game:

FIRST BASE:  Joe Mauer (AL),  Adrian Gonzalez (NL)

With guys such as Eric Hosmer, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis to choose from in the American League portion of things, this wasn’t necessarily an easy decision, but I ended up going with Joe Mauer. Leading the pack in batting average, Mauer has really gotten off to a nice start of what looks to be a bounce back season.

For the National League, I chose Adrian Gonzalez. He is second in the National League first basemen group in average, and is off to an equally good start as Joe Mauer. Amazingly, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are all batting down around .200, making this a somewhat easy choice.

SECOND BASE: Ian Kinsler (AL),  Neil Walker (NL)

Picking between Jose Altuve and Ian Kinsler was rather difficult, as both have stats very similar to the other. In the end, however, I chose Kinsler for the all-around game he brings to the table. While Altuve has had a hot bat to begin the season, it’s Kinsler who I feel can continue to hold his streak the longest.

There are multiple options for National League secondbaseman, with Daniel Murphy and Jean Segura’s high averages jumping out as All-Star worthy. But I wound up picking Neil Walker, who has a combination of a good average, along with a high early homer total that make him All-Star game worthy.

SHORTSTOP:  Carlos Correa (AL),  Zack Cozart (NL)

After winning the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, I currently have Carlos Correa being the AL starting shortstop at the All-Star game as well. Correa plays a great defense and has just as much pop in his bat as anyone around baseball. Therefore, I picked him on my ballot.

The National League shortstop spot goes to Zack Cozart in my mind. While Trevor Story leads the pack in homers and RBI’s, the majority of those came during his extremely hot (and historic) first several games. Recently, Story has cooled off a ton, and the shortstop spot is Cozart’s to lose, in my opinion.

THIRD BASE: Manny Machado (AL),  Nolan Arenado (NL)

There are a ton of worthy candidates in the American League for All-Star game third baseman, but, unfortunately, I could only choose one on my ballot. Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and even Adrian Beltre all have cases. But I went with Manny Machado, who has been incredible to start the season.

Going against Maikel Franco and Kris Bryant was extremely hard to do, especially with them getting off to good starts, but I didn’t go with either of them. Instead, I went with Nolan Arenado. Although his stats aren’t much better than any of the other options, Arenado is one of the best both offensively and defensively at the position.

CATCHER:  Salvador Perez (AL), Wellington Castillo  (NL)

Though his average is a good distance away from the magic .300 mark, Salvador Perez is deserving of the All-Star catcher slot. He is having a great season in Kansas City, once again, and easily earns my vote. Always consistently good, Perez is one of the best catchers in the game, and should be honored as such.

Yadier Molina is always the heavy favorite for National League starting catcher, and he is once again on top in batting average. But I didn’t go with Molina. Instead, I went with breakout catcher, Wellington Castillo. Castillo is having a great year to this point, and he has a very good case for being named the starter in July.

DESIGNATED HITTER: David Ortiz

David Ortiz could be hitting .100 by the time the All-Star game rolls around and he still would be worthy of the vote. Being his final season, and with all he’s done over his career, he deserves it no matter what. But the stats are there, regardless. Ortiz more than deserves to play in his final All-Star game.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down several dozen players to three All-Star picks for each league, especially when you could make a strong case for a dozen of the outfield choices for each league, but it’s a requirement when casting a ballot. So, while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players at the moment, there are a few more I would’ve liked to vote for, but couldn’t. Keep that in mind when reading the outfielders I selected for the American League and National League:

Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Steven Souza Jr. (AL)

Picking Mark Trumbo and Steven Souza Jr. was a bit tough, but they’re having too good of seasons for me to ignore. Although they likely won’t be the top vote-getters when all is said and done, they earn my vote for now. Mike Trout, on the other hand, was a no-brainer. Despite a slow start, Trout is heating things up, and is still a superstar.

Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun (NL)

As with Mike Trout in the AL, picking Bryce Harper for National League outfield was the easiest choice of the three. But after a lot of debate between the candidates to fill the other places, I wound up choosing Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun, who are each having uniquely great seasons, and are each very exciting players to watch.

2013 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2013 Silver Slugger award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. The Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

The voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

This marks the 33rd annual Silver Slugger Awards which began in 1980.

Here are a list of the winners with my thoughts on each:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners: Michael Cuddyer (1st career), Jay Bruce (2nd career) and Andrew McCutchen (2nd career)

AL Winners: Torii Hunter (2nd career), Mike Trout (2nd career) and Adam Jones (1st career)

The National League saw Michael Cuddyer, Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen receiving Silver Slugger awards. All three are deserving, as they had great offensive years. This is just Michael Cuddyer’s first Silver Slugger, despite being in the Majors for thirteen season. Adam Jones also receives his first career Silver Slugger, after batting .285 with 33 homers and 108 RBI’s. In addition, Mike Trout and Torii Hunter pick up the award for the American League after great years.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Todd Helton is tied with Albert Pujols for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with four.

NL Winner- Paul Goldschmidt (1st career)

AL Winner- Chris Davis (1st career)

Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards for first base. They both led their respective league in home runs and RBI’s in 2013, so it’s not really a shock that they received the honor. Both have the potential to win more in their careers.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner- Matt Carpenter (1st career)

AL Winner- Robinson Cano (5th career)

After a great breakout season, Matt Carpenter won his first career Silver Slugger award on Wednesday. Batting .318 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI’s, Carpenter was a major impact player for the Cardinals this season — a big reason why they made it to the World Series. Robinson Cano picks up his fifth career Silver Slugger, with this being his fourth one in a row.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner- Pedro Alvarez (1st career)

AL Winner- Miguel Cabrera (5th career)

Pedro Alvarez had a career season, leading to his first Silver Slugger award. Though his batting average was a mere .233, Alvarez hit 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs. Alvarez was a big part of the 2013 Pirates team and should remain so for years to come. Miguel Cabrera received the award for the American League, and it’s no surprise at all. Cabrera hit .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBI’s, nearly winning the Triple Crown for a second straight season. Truly remarkable.

SHORT STOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a short stop, with nine.

NL Winner- Ian Desmond (2nd career)

AL Winner- J.J. Hardy (1st career)

Ian Desmond won his second consecutive Silver Slugger award last night, as he had another great year. On the AL side, this is J.J. Hardy’s first career Silver Slugger — Derek Jeter won last year but was injured most of 2013 — and he was very deserving. Hardy didn’t have a very high batting average at just .266, however, his 25 home runs and 76 RBI’s put him over the top for the award.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner- Yadier Molina (1st career)

AL Winner- Joe Mauer (5th career)

Surprisingly, this is Yadier Molina’s first career Silver Slugger award, despite multiple good seasons in the past. Molina batted .318 with 12 homers and 80 RBI’s and is a true leader for the Cardinals. As with Molina, Joe Mauer is also a leader for his respective Twins, however, this makes his fifth Silver Slugger of his career; just his first since 2010.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner- Zack Greinke (1st career)

You don’t often think of a pitcher with offensive skills, but Zack Greinke showed off his, and was the best hitting pitcher this past season. Batting .328 over the course of 58 at-bats, Greinke truly deserves this award and has the ability to win another one in the future.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with six.

Winner- David Ortiz (6th career)

David Ortiz is the record holder for most career Silver Sluggers as a DH, and he picked up yet another one for this season. Ortiz hit 30 home runs with 103 RBI’s to go along with a .309 batting average. Ortiz was a big reason the Red Sox made it to the World Series, and ultimately led them to winning the Championship.

2013 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were nine first time Silver Slugger award winners.
  • There were six Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
  • The Orioles had the most Silver Slugger winners, with three.
  • There were four Silver Slugger winners that also won a Gold Glove award this year.