Hello again, all. If you don’t remember, a couple of days ago, I discussed, in a sort of winding way, who you should be voting for in the All-Star Game in the AL, and whether these choices could have been expected going into the 2010 season or not. Anyway, it’s NL time!
1B: Joey Votto
BB-Ref’s WAR and VORP likes Pujols better, but Fangraphs’ WAR likes Votto better. Just to make this more interesting, I’ll take Votto here. He’s getting on base a little less than Pujols but hitting for a little more power, but they’re both getting on base a ton and hitting for a lot of power. Joey Votto’s a good player, but you wouldn’t expect him to be putting up Pujols-type numbers. You’d expect it more from other guys in the NL Central even, Prince Fielder or Derrek Lee, but they’re both struggling to an extent. Lee’s OPS is barely over .700 and Fielder has struggled with RISP so far this season (though that’s a cyclical thing and provided the guys in front of him are getting on base, I expect he’ll have his usual numbers there by the end of the season.). Votto reaching the levels of the elite is rather unexpected.
2B: Chase Utley
This is like Longoria and Mauer in the AL. If you’re surprised or if this is unexpected, you haven’t really been paying attention. Even with the Phillies in a terrible slump, Utley’s the best 2B in baseball.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
This isn’t particularly surprising or unpredictable, except maybe that Hanley’s not the shortstop choice with a bullet. Hanley’s got a better bat, but he’s a much worse fielder. What is unpredictable about the ASG? So far, Jimmy Rollins leads balloting. He’s played in twelve games so far this year due to injuries. He doesn’t have enough PAs to qualify for leaderboards. Um…
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
Again, this isn’t particularly unpredictable. What is unpredictable, I suppose, is how highly Zimmerman is ranked by Fangraphs’ WAR. At this point, he is equal to Longoria, who I always think of as #1 with a bullet. Go figure.
C: Brian McCann
I always thought McCann was pretty underrated, actually, so this is fairly predictable to me. He’s got a good bat and he rates decently defensively. That he’s doing so well is not surprising to me. The stats back up Yadier Molina’s stellar defensive reputation, but he hasn’t put up very good offensive numbers so far.
LF: Josh Willingham
As I said in the AL post, what’s surprising is not so much the dominant LFers, as the fact that LFers are not dominant. I guess I’m just remembering years like 2001, when guys like Bonds, Berkman, Luis Gonzalez (ugh….), Sheffield, and Giles in his prime slugged it out. Guys like Matt Holliday and Ryan Braun are the closest to them, but Holliday hasn’t really heated up yet and WAR doesn’t like Braun that much because he’s terrible defensively.
CF: Angel Pagan
In addition to having maybe the greatest name ever, Pagan has provided the Mets with strong hitting and fielding. I suppose it’s unpredictable that the Mets actually give him the majority of the playing time, as opposed to the far inferior Gary Matthews Jr. Cheap shot alert! No, what’s really surprising is that Matt Kemp isn’t here. But, per Fangraphs, while Kemp is fine when it comes to hitting, he has been an utterly abysmal fielder. So far, he’s putting up a -13.6 UZR. -13.6!!!! That’s bad, and it takes out a lot of the advantage he gains with the bat.
RF: Jason Heyward
The Heyward situation is my favorite here, I must say. Hype surrounded him from the beginning of Spring Training, where he made a habit of hitting monster bombs. He made the team, and then, well, I admit to watching the Braves/Cubs game on Opening Day, grinning from ear to ear as he hit another massive homer in his first at-bat, his parents crying and celebrating in the stands at Turner Field – and I’m not a Braves fan. So far, even with all the hype, Heyward’s managed to live up to it. Hearing so much about highly-touted prospects, and then having them live up to the hype and inject something new and exciting to the baseball world, just utterly rules, honestly, even if they’re for teams I don’t root for.
As for where Heyward is at the end of the season, who knows? Maybe the league figures him out or he goes into a major slump and his production falls off, or maybe he really is a future Hall of Famer. You just never know in baseball.