Balloting continues for Major League Baseball's 85th All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota, and fans can cast their votes using the 2014 All-Star Game Ballot Sponsored by Experian. Deciding who should get voted into the starting lineup can be challenging. Today, Anthony Castrovince and Doug Miller discuss American League second basemen.
Castrovince: Mariano Rivera's new book reveals his stance on the great and long-standing Robinson Cano vs. Dustin Pedroia debate: He'd pick Pedroia. While that was a surprising stance from a Yankees great, it's impossible to make an incorrect choice when considering the full context of their careers.
But as far as the 2014 All-Star Game is concerned, I think the early answer in the Cano vs. Pedroia argument is easy: Neither.
Right now, I'd say there are at least three AL second basemen outplaying that pair: the Tigers' Ian Kinsler (.330/.360/.477), the Angels' Howie Kendrick (.309/.386/.424), and -- most surprising of all -- the Twins' Brian Dozier (.251/.357/.455).
Pedroia is like many of the Red Sox in that his start has been a little slower than he's accustomed to. His adjusted OPS is just north of league average. And while Cano is batting .323 for his new club, it's a somewhat hollow average given the impact Safeco Field has had on his power numbers.
So if I had to choose my AL All-Star second baseman at this still-early stage, I think I'd side with Kinsler, who has not only answered questions about how his offensive numbers would translate in the move from Globe Life Park in Arlington to Comerica Park but has been a sparkplug on the basepaths and a stalwart glove up the middle. He's made the Tigers more athletic. He's certainly done the job of creating RBI opportunities for Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
But I know you can make pretty good arguments for those other guys, can't you, Doug?
Miller: Whoa. Hold on a minute, Anthony. I'm out in Seattle, and I've seen enough of Cano this season to know that his batting average isn't hollow. He has been a huge presence in that young lineup, as evidenced by his seven intentional walks, by far the most for AL second basemen and fifth in all of Major League Baseball. He's also leading AL second basemen in RBIs with 28 and had reached base in a career-high 31 consecutive games until that was snapped Sunday. The only category in which he's lacking is home runs, as he's only hit two.
That's why I'm probably going to lean toward Dozier at this stage of the game, but not by a lot. Even though Dozier is batting 72 points lower than Cano and 79 lower than Kinsler, his on-base percentage is right there with those guys because of his superb walk-to-strikeout ratio (30 to 42), and he's hit 11 homers.
He's also driven in 26 runs, second to Cano among AL second basemen, and stolen 12 bases. Considering that he was on absolutely nobody's radar as recently as two years ago, it's a heck of a story and one that would play very nicely on the All-Star stage in his home park.
Nothing wrong with the seasons Kinsler or Kendrick is having, to be sure, but for me, it's Dozier vs. Cano. Anyone else we're forgetting?
Castrovince: As is often the case, we're not giving nearly enough attention to the vertically challenged among us. And by that, I mean we have not yet mentioned the Astros' Jose Altuve, who is making a strong bid for his second All-Star selection.
Altuve took a step backward offensively last season, but he's rebounded considerably in 2014. He's leading the Major Leagues in hits with 70. He's got a .326/.366/.447 slash line to go with his AL-high 17 stolen bases. He's done a really good job this year of limiting his strikeouts, which is probably the key to his offensive results.
As a member of the somewhat vertically-challenged community myself, I have great respect for the 5-foot-5 Altuve. And even in what has been a frustrating first half for the Red Sox, you've got to think the 5-foot-8 Pedroia has more in the tank, don't you?
Miller: Of course. In fact, if I had one second baseman to pick to play on my team, it … well, you'll have to read my memoir to find out whom that would be. But Pedroia would be in the conversation, because a former MVP should always be in the conversation, although his stats (.267/.342/.381) and his team's performance (20-29, 10-game losing streak) are putting him far behind the aforementioned for the time being.
The same can be said for usual contenders Ben Zobrist of the Rays, who's been struggling at the plate this year, and Cleveland's Jason Kipnis, who has been hurt for much of the early going but is scheduled to return to action this week.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.