Voters aren't doing nearly as well at selecting the National League starters as they are in the American League. Normally, Yankees fans are those who might be accused of stuffing the ballot box—and Mark Teixeira's high level of support may be an indication of this—but this year, the evidence points squarely at Phillies fans.
I have one thing to say about Phillies fans. I was recently hanging out in a Fenway-area tavern with a friend from Philadelphia who was in town for an inter-league game with the Red Sox. I was kind of impressed that a rousing "Let's Go Phillies!" chant got going in the bar at one point. Then, I realized all of the Red Sox fans had already left to go to the baseball game, while most Phillies fans remained behind to watch the end of the USA-England World Cup game.
First Base: With apologies to Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto and all other National League first basemen, another player would have to be clearly outplaying Albert Pujols to earn my vote. Not surprisingly, Pujols has more than twice as many votes as any other candidate.
Second Base: This was a tough call, but I gave the edge to Martin Prado over Brandon Phillips, both of whom have made only two errors and are among the top performers offensively at the position. Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who is dominating the voting, would have been given the edge for the same reason I went with Jeter, Mauer and Pujols, if not for his nine errors.
Shortstop: Offensively, it's between Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki for the nod at short, but I voted for Tulowitzki based on the fact that he's a superior defender to Ramirez. Unfortunately, Tulowitzki is injured and won't be able to play in the game anyway, which is kind of a moot point, considering he's third in the voting behind Ramirez and the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins.
Third Base: David Wright is on a tear, and deserves to be in the discussion, but I went with Scott Rolen. Of course, Placido Polanco, bolstered by a high mark in one of the most over-rated stats in the game—batting average—and by the fact that he plays for the Phillies, is leading the balloting.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo is a few at bats short of qualifying for the league lead in the average categories, but he leads all NL catchers in RBI with 34, is second in home runs with 10, is batting .295, and has thrown out 54.5% of runners attempting to steal—also first in the league. No other NL catcher belongs in this discussion, yet he doesn't even rank in the top five in the voting.
Outfield: Can someone tell me why I had to vote for Corey Hart as a write-in candidate? It seems as though he's been a mainstay in the Brewers' lineup for several years, but somehow he was left off the ballot in favor of Carlos Gomez and Jim Edmonds. He leads the National League in home runs, is second in RBI, and has a .919 OPS, so that makes him one of the three best outfielders in the league to me. My other two picks are my center fielder Colby Rasmus, and Andre Ethier, with an honorable mention to the most deserving player on the Phillies, Jayson Werth.
MLB Game Picks - Wednesday: July 30, 2014
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