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Busting Major League baseball's All-Star ballot box
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer.

 

Steve Nesius

Kansas City Royals catcher John Buck.

 

Associated Press

Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton.

 

Associated Press

Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/30/2009 10:35 PM | Updated: 5/30/2009 10:38 PM

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Ballot-buster cheat sheet

Here is Lindsey Willhite's take on the Good, and the Bad, candidates seeking your All-Star Game support:

American League Good Team

C Joe Mauer, Minnesota .407 BA, 11 HRs, 32 RBI in 91 ABs

1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota 14 HRs, 44 RBI, 1.082 OPS

2B Aaron Hill, Toronto .344 BA, 12 HRs, .919 OPS

SS Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay .373 BA, 7 HRs, 14 SBs

3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay 32 XBH, 51 RBI, 1.018 OPS

OF Jason Bay, Boston 14 HRs, 48 RBI, 1.018 OPS

OF Adam Jones, Baltimore .357 BA, 11 HRs, 1.047 OPS

OF Torri Hunter, L.A. Angels 11 HRs, 10 SB, .989 OPS

National League Good Team

C Brian McCann, Atlanta .317 BA, 5 HRs, .932 OPS

1B Albert Pujols, St. Louis 14 HRs, 40 RBI, 1.087 OPS

2B Orlando Hudson, L.A. Dodgers .340 BA, 16 2Bs, .898 OPS

SS Hanley Ramirez, Florida .320 BA, 8 HRs, .951 OPS

3B Ryan Zimmerman, Washington .333 BA, 11 HRs, .974 OPS

OF Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia .339 BA, 17 HRs, 1.109 OPS

OF Carlos Beltran, N.Y. Mets .367 BA, .460 OBP, 1.034 OPS

OF Adam Dunn, Washington 16 HRs, 42 RBI, 1.026 OPS

American League Bad Team

C Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay .215 BA, 11 RBI, .544 OPS

1B Chris Davis, Texas .203 BA, 12 HRs, .715 OPS

2B Jose Lopez, Seattle .216 BA, 10 XBH, .566 OPS

SS Mike Aviles, Kansas City .183 BA, 5 XBH, .458 OPS

3B Josh Fields, White Sox .229 BA, 7 XBH, .607 OPS

OF Delmon Young, Minnesota .245 BA, 2 XBH, .575 OPS

OF Ryan Sweeney, Oakland .246 BA, .627 OPS, 7 GIDP

OF B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay .192 BA, .283 Slug %

National League Bad Team

C Jason Kendall, Milwaukee .206 BA, 0 HRs, .548 OPS

1B Chad Tracy, Arizona .184 BA, 3 HRs, .579 OPS

2B Kazuo Matsui, Houston .219 BA, 8 XBH, .583 OPS

SS Alex Gonzalez, Cincinnati .211 BA, 7 XBH, .561 OPS

3B Garrett Atkins, Colorado .195 BA, 9 XBH, .565 OPS

OF Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta .247 BA, 3 HRs, .616 OPS

OF Brian Giles, San Diego .190 BA, 2 HRs, .573 OPS

OF Chris Young, Arizona .169 BA, 3 HRs, .519 OPS

Note: all stats through Thursday's games

OPS = on-base plus slugging percentage; XBH = extra base hits; GIDP = grounded into double play; Slug % = total bases divided by at-bats.

Some ideas are such a colossal waste of time - yet so much fun to contemplate and complete - they simply must be pursued to the bitter end no matter how futile the gesture might be.

And with that dramatic buildup, behold the idea:

Let's mess with Major League Baseball's decree, now in its seventh year, to award the homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game.

First, let's acknowledge there already are some partners in this enjoyable crime, such as members of The Sons of Sam Horn, the signature blog for Red Sox Nation. They launched a campaign last month to get Washington outfielder Lastings Milledge voted to the National League's starting lineup.

The joke? Milledge isn't even in the big leagues as he's struggling to hit .250 for Class AAA Syracuse.

And while it sounds like fun to blow up Commissioner Bud Selig's illogical plan to tie an exhibition's result to the game's most important event, here's why it might be seen as a waste of time:

The American League has won all six All-Star Games since Selig and the Fox Network cooked up the "This Time It Counts" concept. But in those six years the AL has won just three of the subsequent World Series.

And here's a local reason why it feels like a waste of time this season: The Cubs and the White Sox are struggling to live up to their potential and residing in the lower half of their respective divisions.

That leaves little incentive for Sox and Cubs fans to take the time to go online (www.mlb.com) and vote 25 times to stack their league's lineup while wrecking the other league's starting eight.

But some people in other cities enjoy doing just that, so let's not allow these facts to deter us from our pursuit of All-Star Game happiness.

With help from Baseball Prospectus' sabermetric-oriented statistics that provide the best picture of the players who are off to the best and worst starts, here are the names you need to put (or punch) on your ballots:

Best AL lineup for Sox fans

Catcher Joe Mauer (Minnesota), first baseman Justin Morneau (Minnesota), second baseman Aaron Hill (Toronto), shortstop Jason Bartlett (Tampa Bay) and third baseman Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay).

Mauer gets the nod over Cleveland's Victor Martinez due to his ridiculous start. After missing the Twins' first 22 games with a back injury, Mauer crushed 11 homers and drove in 31 runs in his first 23 games back.

Some might be tempted to vote for Texas' Ian Kinsler (13 homers, 10 steals) at second base, but he has been a Rangers Ballpark creation as he owns a .167 batting average on the road this year. Remember, the All-Star Game will be July 14 at St. Louis.

The outfield should consist of Jason Bay (Boston), Adam Jones (Baltimore) and Torii Hunter (Los Angeles), though Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay) also would be an acceptable answer since he's on pace for baseball's first 100-steal season since 1987.

Worst NL lineup for Sox fans

Catcher Jason Kendall (Milwaukee), first baseman Chad Tracy (Arizona), second baseman Kaz Matsui (Houston), shortstop Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia) and third baseman Garrett Atkins (Colorado).

If it seems too difficult to consider 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins as the league's worst shortstop, go with Cincinnati's Alex Gonzalez. He's not the ex-Cubs shortstop by the same name, though White Sox fans might want to vote for him just to rub the 2003 NLCS into Cubs fans' faces one more time.

In the outfield, you could simply vote for Atlanta's starting trio and be plenty bad enough. But that would be ignoring the horrid starts by Chris Young (Arizona) and Brian Giles (San Diego). Throw in the Braves' Jeff Francoeur to round out the crew.

Best NL lineup for Cubs fans

Catcher Brian McCann (Atlanta), first baseman Albert Pujols (St. Louis), second baseman Orlando Hudson (Los Angeles), shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Florida) and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (Washington).

Pujols edges San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Joey Votto, partly due to his track record and partly because oft-voting Cardinals fans will ensure Pujols starts on his home turf anyway.

Carlos Beltran (New York) and Raul Ibanez (Philadelphia) are shoo-ins in the outfield, while Manny Ramirez would be an easy third pick if he hadn't been caught with world's highest illicit testosterone level. He doesn't deserve to be rewarded for that.

In Ramirez's place, go with Adam Dunn (Washington), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee) or Justin Upton (Arizona).

Wouldn't it be funny if National League fans voted in one Upton as a reward for a good start and the other Upton as a punishment for a bad start?

Worst AL lineup for Cubs fans

Catcher Dioner Navarro (Tampa Bay), first baseman Chris Davis (Texas), second baseman Jose Lopez (Seattle), shortstop Mike Aviles (Kansas City) and third baseman Josh Fields (White Sox).

Texas' Davis owns 12 home runs, which means he probably doesn't deserve his nomination, but David Ortiz (Boston) doesn't appear on the ballot, and write-in campaigns never work out.

There are lots of good outfield candidates, but Delmon Young (Minnesota), ex-Sox Ryan Sweeney (Oakland) and surprisingly bad B.J. Upton (Tampa Bay) deserve your votes.

As an aside, why the heck is the Sox' Dewayne Wise even on the ballot?