Sunday, July 6, 2008

Top 5 Travesties in the 2008 All-Star Game

Tim's Top 5:
In case you hadn't noticed, and unless you were me, you hadn' is The Top 5's first birthday. Instead of something truly special to commemorate its first birthday...I'm going to complain about how much baseball fans are truly ignorant and how much worse baseball players and managers apparently are. That's right, I need two blogs to do this now.

I can be silent no longer! (note: in fact, I've already created a facebook group called "Jason Varitek is not an all-star", so it's hard to claim I've been silent thus far). This year's All-Star rosters have several travesties, which are hard to even reduce to such a brief list. So this list commemorates the awful inclusions, exclusions, and other potentially abhorrent aspects of the 2008 All-Star Game.

1. Jason Varitek is named to the AL All-Star Team - This one's on the players. Jason Varitek's offensive numbers just barely beat out my own. He's batting a whopping .217 with seven home runs, 27 RBIs, and slugged .360 in 242 at bats, when he's batting around guys like Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz. In contrast, Kelly Shoppach, who has filled in as part of baseball's least potent lineup while Victor Martinez has been on the DL, has hit .270 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs while slugging .493! in 148 at bats. I don't hesitate to say that I would take every single American League starting catcher over Varitek and I know that every one of them could be defensible on a purely statistical basis.

2. Ichiro Suzuki -- again -- This one's on the fans. Yeah, here we go again. Japanese people should not be permitted to vote for the All-Star Game, because they really make a mockery of the All-Star game, electing both Ichiro Suzuki and Kosuke Fukudome as starters (thank god for Chase Utley, otherwise Kaz Matsui was almost assured a spot of his own). Kosuke is certainly unworthy, but not nearly unworthy on the level of Ichiro. Ichiro has warranted being in the All-Star game in years past, but this is not one of them. He's .304/.362/.376 for a whopping OPS of .738, an OPS matched only by 22 other outfielders in the American League, out of 32 who are eligible. Yes, Ichiro steals bases, and yes, that brings some value, but even if we added those thirty three steals to his slugging percentage (turn 33 singles into doubles), which is an utterly preposterous exaggeration of their value, since doubles are hits that lead to other batters scoring more frequently, whereas steals only help if people after Ichiro get hits...Ichiro has an OPS of .920, which would be good for the second best in the American League...except that if we did that for everyone else, he'd still barely be clinging to the top 10. He has the 13th best OBP among qualifying AL outfielders, he's not a good defensive player in centerfield (.879 zone rating, roughly equivalent to Josh Hamilton (.874), way behind Sizemore .922 and Granderson .909), and his inclusion leads to Brandon Morrow missing an all-star game even though he has an ERA of 0.65! and has become an effective closer (7 saves in 7 opportunities) after dominating in a setup role.

3. Joe Crede? Seriously? - Joe Crede is having a perfectly adequate season for the surprising White Sox. Except whoops...Evan Longoria and Mike Lowell are the only people who have a claim to this spot, given that Guillen is a lock because of his lousy teammates. You can't even blame this one on old-school people who are enamored with batting average to the exclusion of OBP and OPS, because Crede is worse than Lowell and Longoria in substantially worse than both Lowell and Longoria in average, OBP, and OPS.

4. Derek Jeter - This is on the fans, but would have been on the players, who would have chosen him anyway. This guy is a really shitty baseball player, and I am so tired of seeing him get sucked off by baseball as a whole. He's not even the second best shortstop in the American League (see my analysis on, which has only been skewed more in Peralta's favor since I wrote it), but he gets voted in without even a thought as to whether another person is more worthy. In fact, no shortstops are particularly worthy, Pedroia should just be forced to play shortstop in the all-star game to make room for adequate infielders, but Jeter is definitely not worth starting.

5. It "counts" - This one's on the commissioner. The home field advantage for the World Series is stupid and reeks of Bud Selig trying to make things "relevant".

Honorable mentions: the fact that someone other than Cliff Lee will inevitably start the All-Star game, Miguel Tejada, Brian Wilson, Pat Burrell being left behind despite leading NL outfielders in OPS, Miguel Tejada, the fact that I have to admit Jason Giambi's steroided ass is worthy of playing in the All-Star game, Xavier Nady being left off.

Dan's Top 5:

Now, I haven't been paying that much attention to baseball this year, but I have been paying attention enough to realize that the Cubs are one of the best teams in the majors, at least in terms of winning percentage. Being the superstitious fan I am, I refuse to pay further attention to the game until I am sure that they have secured a playoff spot and cannot possibly collapse. So that's my disclaimer - I haven't been paying attention this season. And I'm too lazy to look up any more than the most basic of stats.

1. The Boston Red Sox - Wow, Boston be representin' with seven players. They must be lighting up the standings. Wait, what's that? They're not even winning their division? Where the hell are the Rays? Don't tell me that the reason that Tampa Bay is 4.5 games ahead of the Red Sox is because of Navarro and Kazmir alone. Now, to be fair, I'll give you #2...

2. Seven versus Seven - Both Boston and the Chicago Cubs have seven players elected to the All-Star Game. Even as a fan of the Cubs, I think this is a bit much. Let the World Series come at the end of the season, no matter how badly you wanted to see both teams make it in 2003. Wait, my whole argument assumes that there are other players in the NL that are suitable for the All Star roster... How about Xavier Nady or something? He's batting fucking .321. (I actually hadn't even looked at Tim's list for this idea before I wrote this one.)

3. Derek Jeter - I see that he's already made Tim's list, and after reading his capsule review, I wholeheartedly agree and have nothing of value to add. Why the hell do the people of New York like this asshat more than Alex Rodriguez anyway?

4. Yankee Stadium - This is the stadium's last year, right? OK, so there's a hint of wistful nostalgia here. But remember that this will essentially be the Cubs versus the Red Sox. Let's pray that it doesn't turn into the Cubs versus the Red Sox versus the drunk, pissed off New Yorkers. Then again, that would make for a hell of a Youtube video highlight.

5. Jason Varitek - Ok, after doing a bare minimum of research, I can see how this was Tim's #1. I think I'd rather have Kelly Shoppach on the All Star team than Varitek. Apart from the funny name, that's not even a joke. (Again, thought of this before I read Tim's response.)

Honorable Mention: Only Two Rays? - This was covered in #1 already, but seriously, it deserves one more mention.

Ryan's Top 5:

1. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver - I realize that by now we should be resigned to the fact that Fox owns the All-Star game. But I'm sorry, watching any sports on Fox makes me sad. Joe Buck's voice makes my skin crawl. (This and this pretty much sum it up for Buck.) As for Tim McCarver... well, I have a natural hatred for anyone associated with St. Louis (see Buck). And Fox is hiding the Family Guy clip I want to link to, so here's the dialog:
Brian Griffin: Well, I guess Stewie couldn't be any worse than Tim McCarver is at sportscasting.

[cut to Tim McCarver sportscasting]

Tim McCarver: In my view, as good as the Yankees were in the first half of this game, that's how as bad they've been now.

2. Jason Varitek - I agree with what Tim and Dan said. This really is the biggest All-Star mistake, I think everyone should agree with that.

3. 2/3 of the Cubs Outfield Starting - Anyone whose stats compare favorably with Alex Gordon this year shouldn't be starting in an all-star game. Also, if these two get in, shouldn't David DeJesus, who's arguably having a better year than both? The answer is no. None of them should.

4. Brian Wilson - This was the first name that jumped out at me (after, obviously Varitek, Soriano, Kosuke, Ichiro). Do we need two Giants in this game? Is the National League that bad? The Royals are a better team than the Giants, but we only get our best player in the game. Look, give this spot to Cole Hamels, please. Or another reliever--Jon Rauch? (The Nationals aren't that far off... though Cristian Guzman really shouldn't be in this game, I am not going to look at his stats, it's common sense, it's like you telling me the Chiefs would be in the Super Bowl next year.); Takashi Saito, Hong-Chih Kuo, Francisco Cordero, etc.?

5. Evan Longoria - First he gets left off the opening day roster, now the all-star roster. Come on, folks. Give the rookie his due. I'd much rather watch an up-and-coming superstar than Joe Crede (see Tim's list) or Mike freaking Lowell.

Dishonorable Mention: I hate the Home Run Derby, but I will watch it, and thus I will have to listen to Chris Berman for the first time since football season.

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