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 third basemen.
Castrovince: Thus far, All-Star voters have embraced the obvious, which is that Josh Donaldson is the best third baseman in the American League.
It's not just what he does offensively -- although nobody is going to scoff at his .484 slugging percentage, 17 homers and 51 RBIs for the first-place A's. This guy made the conversion from catcher and worked to make himself a tremendous defensive asset. If you're into WAR, his combination of skills on both sides of the ball gives him a 4.4 mark (as calculated by Baseball-Reference), double that of any other AL third baseman.
Donaldson looks bound to get MVP votes again this year, perhaps faring better than his fourth-place finish last year. For now, he'll settle for the All-Star votes, which have come pouring in. At last count, Donaldson had 1,953,423 of them, more than twice the number cast for the Rangers' Adrian Beltre, who is in second place.
The voters have got this one right, Doug. So the question for now is, who should back up Donaldson on the All-Star stage? I can think of one guy who happened to hit three homers with nine RBIs in a 5-for-5 game earlier this week, but he's not even on the ballot.
Miller: I'm with you -- and everybody else -- on Donaldson, all the way. As for the other guy, you must be talking about Mike Schmi ... err ... uh ... Lonnie Chisenhall.
The Indians have been super-patient with this one-time big-time prospect, and four years into his career, it is paying off. Chisenhall is still lacking in the plate-appearances-per-game department that would qualify him for the batting-title race, but he'll get there soon now that he's a lineup fixture. He's on an incredible tear and could easily be chosen by AL manager John Farrell or by his peers in the player voting.
As for guys who are on the ballot, it would be unwise to ignore Beltre, now or in any season, really. Beltre was on the 15-day disabled list in April with a left quad strain, but it didn't take him very long to get back to being Adrian Beltre, who's making a pretty good stealth case for the Hall of Fame.
Entering Wednesday, Beltre had put up a line of .314/.360/.491, with eight homers and 35 RBIs, and his defense has earned him four Gold Gloves, so you know he'll catch the ball for you. He's also made three All-Star teams, so he's no stranger to this stage.
So Donaldson, Lonnie Baseball and Beltre. Anyone we're forgetting?
Castrovince: I've got two more guys who obviously won't get the start but could be on the backup radar when the rosters get filled out: Kyle Seager of the Mariners and the out-of-nowhere Yangervis Solarte of the Yankees. Among qualified AL third basemen (which, of course, rules out Chisenhall) they both rank behind only Donaldson and Beltre in the FanGraphs-calculated weighted runs created plus mark, which makes adjustments for ballparks.
Seager has been an underrated asset for the Mariners for a while now. He's been nearly as productive as Seattle's $240 million man, Robinson Cano, and Seager (and Cano, for that matter) would have even better power numbers if he didn't play half his games at Safeco Field.
Solarte, meanwhile, survived eight Minor League seasons with two organizations before finally getting a big league opportunity with the Yanks, and his performance has been one of the season's most pleasant surprises.
He's cooled a bit in recent weeks, but he's given the Yankees far better production than they expected.
Again, Donaldson is the clear starter here. But between Chisenhall, Beltre, Seager and Solarte, it could come down to who gets (or stays) hot these next few weeks to grab an AL roster spot. And on that note, we can't completely rule out a run by Xander Bogaerts, either, now that he's manning the hot corner in Boston.
Miller: I think we're pretty much in agreement here on the choices, Anthony. And I think we both agree that the AL will be stocked at the hot corner at Target Field on July 15. The only thing left for fans to do now is get those votes in and let their voices be heard.
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.