Give the fans a pat on the back: They did a great job selecting the National and American League All-Star rosters for the July 12 game in Phoenix.
The only player that was selected to start that shouldn’t was shortstop Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, but that’s not the end of the world. Jeter is his way to becoming the first Yankees player to reach 3,000 career hits. Jeter was six hits short as he returned to the Yankees’ lineup Monday in Cleveland.
And, the fans should be congratulated for their final-week push that allowed for four deserving players to make the team: In the final days of voting in the NL, Prince Fielder overtook Albert Pujols at first base while Jose Reyes replaced Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop and Matt Kemp went ahead of Matt Holliday in the outfield. In the AL, fans voted Detroit’s Alex Avila over the Yankees’ Russell Martin as the catcher.
Other All-Star thoughts:
* How weird will be it to not have Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki in the All-Star Game? His string of 10 consecutive appearances has come to an end. Ichiro has slumped all season for the Mariners.
* Hard to believe that in 2009, Jose Bautista - Toronto outfielder who was the leading vote-getter this year - was a role player. And in 2005, he played with five different teams: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and the New York Mets.
* Arizona, the host team, probably deserved more than reserve outfielder B.J. Upton, but what a surge he had to make the team. He was hitting .241 on May 28, but after a day off, he hit .388 the rest of the way.
* The 34-man rosters for each league are too big. They should be trimmed to 28. That would allow the game to be more competitive. Instead, managers focus too much on trying to get every player a chance to play.
* There are always snubs, but the biggest might have been Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh. McCutchen is an excellent defensive centerfielder who has hit .289 with 12 home runs, 15 steals, 20 doubles and an on-base percentage of .390. He lost out to Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce and the New York Mets’ Carlos Beltran. Beltran is a feel-good story, but Bruce’s selection by the players is strange: He has 18 home runs, but hit only .217 during June.
* Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa had an impressive home run total (15), almost double that of the backup choice, Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati. But, Phillips was hitting 50 points higher, and usually in cases like this, the player with the most experience gets the nod. Espinosa, though, is going to make a strong run for the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
* The Orioles’ Matt Wieters was the best selection as the AL’s backup catcher. Russell Martin was nearly selected as the fans’ choice to start the game, but it would have been a bad call if Martin had been selected ahead of Wieters. Wieters’ clutch hitting and overall defensive play is enough to give him his first All-Star selection.
* The fan vote for the roster spot is simply a popularity contest. It will help the Nationals’ Michael Morse that his team will be at home until the All-Star Game, but it doesn’t bode well for the Orioles’ Adam Jones. Victor Martinez of Detroit would be my choice in the AL, given his versatility as the Tigers’ DH, catcher and first baseman.
* The Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game has run its course. It might be a good TV show, but it’s boring for the fans that have to sit through all the commercial breaks at the ballpark. One thing that could help the competition is to make it shorter.
* Also, is there any one who thinks that the winner of the All-Star Game should be given home-field advantage at the World Series?