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 shortstops.
Castrovince: All-Star voting is always a battle between statistics and sentiments, and fans retain every right to follow the latter at least as much as the former as they make their selections, should they so desire.
The first ballot update for the American League's starting lineup was unveiled Tuesday, and, as you might imagine, the sentiment won out over the statistics with regard to Derek Jeter's candidacy. With 602,525 votes, he was ahead by a wide margin over his next-closest competition, Alexei Ramirez.
I suspect it will stay that way, in spite of Jeter's uninspiring .657 OPS. One way or another, this guy is going to be on the AL All-Star team this year. If it's not the fans, it will be his peers or AL manager John Farrell ensuring Jeter gets his final tip of the cap on the Midsummer stage.
So I, for one, am fine with eschewing the stats and giving Jeter the start. The All-Star Game, regardless of its impact on the World Series schedule, is still about celebrating seismic stars and creating seminal moments. Jeter's final All-Star goodbye is bound to be a highlight, no matter what else happens at Target Field that July night. I say keep those votes coming.
What do you think, Doug?
Miller: I think, Anthony, that I could hear the sweet violin music playing while you typed out those paragraphs. Very moving. Poignant, even.
And yes, I agree that Jeter and his fistful of World Series rings and his 3,000-plus hits and his eventual Hall of Fame plaque and his trademarked jump-throw deserve to be on the All-Star team for as long as he wears pinstripes, because that's simply the right thing to do, even if his OPS is .657.
I just don't think he should start this game.
The way I see it, the All-Star Game is, first and foremost, about the year at hand. At this stage of 2014, Derek Jeter is not close to being the best shortstop in the American League. Alexei Ramirez is. And that's not close.
Entering Friday's action, Ramirez leads all AL shortstops in home runs (seven) and RBIs (36). The closest players to him in those categories, respectively, have five (Jonathan Villar, Houston) and 29 (Erick Aybar, Angels). Oh, and Ramirez also has a slash line of .327/.360/.483 and has thrown in 10 stolen bases for good measure.
That's a beatdown, a shellacking, a landslide, a boat race, whatever you want to call it. And I can't ignore it when it comes to the 2014 All-Star Game, no matter how much I admire what Jeter has accomplished in a career that puts him in the conversation for the best at his position in Major League history.
Castrovince: One thing that helps my admittedly sappy stance about Jeter is there just isn't a great pool of candidates in the early going. I agree that if you're going to vote off the numbers, to date, you've got to go with Ramirez.
That said, you do have to applaud what Eduardo Escobar has done in seizing the Twins' starting job from Pedro Florimon. He's got a .324/.361/.486 slash line, albeit in only 111 at-bats. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up that offensive pace.
Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox has a respectable .813 OPS in his first full season, though he'll soon slide over to third base to accommodate Stephen Drew. Aybar does enough defensively to merit mentioning, even if his offensive numbers aren't overwhelming.
Again, though, for me it's Jeter all the way, and evidently a lot of other people agree. So won't you join me on the sappy side of life, Doug? You know you want to.
Miller: I can be sappy, Anthony. I'm a sucker for the final scene in "Erin Brockovich," for example. I liked "Tuesdays with Morrie." I have more than a handful of songs by Bryan Adams on my iPod. In fact, "Heaven" might be my favorite.
So yes, I will be one of the millions of baseball fans, even Red Sox fans, who rise from their seats and applaud Jeter when he tips his cap to the Target Field crowd at his final Midsummer Classic. I do believe he'll be there, and I do believe, despite my opinion on the matter, that he will start the game, because sentiment is such a powerful element in baseball, and for good reason.
But Ramirez better be there, too. He's simply the better shortstop right now.
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.