Did Fans get the 2012 MLB All Star Game Wrong?

Tonight, some of baseball’s greatest players will square off against one another in Major League Baseball’s grand, yearly exhibition; The All-Star Game.

Well, that’s how Bud Selig, FOX, ESPN and, really, anyone who stands to make a few bucks off of the game want us to see it, anyway. In reality, It’s a massively-hyped but often-under-whelming contest between baseball’s most popular players that will inexplicably effect a pair of yet-to-be-decided teams’ World Series hopes who may or may not have more than a couple of players even present at this game.

But, then again, there’s not much that can be done about the majority of those issues. For example, Selig still seems to think that the “This time it counts!” concept is a winner – despite just about everybody on the planet understanding otherwise. And, as far as the on-the-field performances, there are bound to be some awkward defensive situations due to the fact that most of these players have never played together before as a unit. That’s the primary characteristic of All-Star games in every sport.

One thing that is up to the fans to control, however, is who plays in the game – at least for the most part. Fans get to select the starters (eight for the NL, nine for the AL) for each team. And, in case you wondered, we screwed it up pretty badly. Again. Of the eight players on the National League roster that the fans selected, one deserve to be there. On the AL side, fans got two of nine possible choices correct.

So, out of 17 players, we got three right. That’s 17.6 percent, and that’s pathetic.

Of course, right about now you might be asking yourself what criteria I am using to decipher who deserves to be in Kansas City this evening and who does not. That’s simple; I’m using a statistic that has gained quite a bit of steam over the last few years – Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. When you’re talking about an All-Star game, and who deserves to be there, WAR is about as perfect of a stat as you can ask for.

WAR essentially tells us how many more wins than the “average” AAA/MLB level replacement player that any given ballplayer is worth. And when you’re talking about who deserves to be at an All-Star game, that’s exactly what you want. So, without further ado, here are the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star rosters, as well as what the roster’s should be.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Pos- Player – Correct Player

C- Buster Posey – Carlos Ruiz

1B- Joey Votto – Joey Votto

2B- Dan Uggla – Darwin Barney

3B- Pablo Sandoval – David Wright

SS- Rafael Furcal – Starlin Castro

OF- Melky Cabrera – Andrew McCutchen

OF- Carlos Beltran – Michael Bourn

OF- Ryan Braun – Matt Holliday

I’ll admit – Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro being on this list surprised me. Neither of them are putting up stellar offensive numbers. But, as it turns out, Barney and Castro have the two highest Defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR) in all of the National League. So, their defense is literally so good that it has pushed them above and beyond players with better offensive numbers. Who knew.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Pos- Player – Correct Player

C- Mike Napoli – Joe Mauer

1B- Prince Fielder – Albert Pujols

2B- Robinson Cano – Robinson Cano

3B- Adrian Beltre – Brett Lawrie

SS- Derek Jeter – Asdrubal Cabrera

OF- Josh Hamilton – Mike Trout

OF- Curtis Granderson – Josh Reddick

OF- Jose Bautista – Austin Jackson

DH- David Ortiz – David Ortiz

There were a couple of surprises here, too. First of all, Brett Lawrie got hosed – badly. He is far and away the best overall player in the AL this year, yet he didn’t get anywhere near enough votes to start. As a matter of fact, he’s not even on the team. Also surprising is the fact that the first base and catcher positions are pretty weak in the AL this year. I had to go pretty far down the list to find a full-time first baseman that was deserving.

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  • Kevin

    1) Brett Lawrie is not even close to being the best AL player. There are 40 players with higher batting averages, 100 players with more home runs, and 120 players with more RBI’s, and those are just the three main offensive categories. 2) Your WAR statistic has two main flaws. First, every site that calculates WAR publicly states that they use different principles when evaluating WAR, so it is not a concrete stat such as AVG, HR, or RBI. Second, if one team has a very poor substitute in a certain position, then that would give their starter an increased WAR value and could rank him above other players who out-perform but simply have a talented substitute on the bench. 3) Jason Bourn is a fictional movie character. You must mean Michael Bourn. 4) Braun had more HR, RBI, and SB to go with a higher OPS and total bases. He clearly earned it. 5) Fielder outranks Pujols in nearly every statistical category, with the exception of 2B and SO (both of which he remains quite close). 6) See my first point as to why Beltre is way more deserving than Lawrie. 7) Your 3 AL OF starters have all had a great 1st half and deserve to be in the ASG, but their numbers simply do not match up the 3 current starters and therefore I am glad to have Hamilton, Joey Bats, and Granderson as the AL starters. Please do us all a favor and conduct proper research and editing prior to submitting your release.

    • Jamie Bradley

       Oh, Kevin.

      First of all, You are right on one count – I have no idea why the hell I typed Jason instead of Michael. That was weird.

      But, beyond that, please never use batting average or RBI’s as a reason why a player is good. If you’re going to act like a condescending jerk at least know what you’re talking about. Batting Average only shows a small segment of a player’s offensive output. Using batting average to describe a players overall offensive ability does nothing but show that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      As for RBI’s, that’s even worse. an RBI requires that someone is on base in front of a player. You can’t fault a player for being in positions where fewer people are on base in front of them.

      Also, as for your hate for the WAR statistic – there are slight differences in how it is calculated, however, you very clearly do not understand the stat. This line, for example:

      “if one team has a very poor substitute in a certain position, then that
      would give their starter an increased WAR value and could rank him above
      other players who out-perform but simply have a talented substitute on
      the bench.”

      That’s bullshit and that’s not how the stat is calculated. The stat is based off of a hypothetical player, not the actual player that is on the team’s bench. When the stat refers to “replacement,” they are referring to what the absolute MLB average is for a replacement-level player – which mean’s it’s uniform across the board.

      Reading down your list of reasons, you write a whole lot about RBI’s and batting averages, which have been proven over and over to have an incredibly limited view of a player’s actual evaluation.

      Additionally, you appear to be paying absolutely zero attention to defense. Braun, for example, is a horrid left fielder. He’s an offensive beast. If you’re looking for the best all around players, that’s what I’m giving you. If you’re looking for the biggest bats in the league, then that’s a different story.

      So please, as you so eloquently said, conduct the proper research before “submitting your release,” whatever the hell that means.

      • Kevin

        1) I did not put too much emphasis on BA or RBI. Each of the starters outranked your picks in multiple categories in addition to those two stats lines. 2) Admittedly, I do not know an incredible amount on the WAR stat, and for two main reasons. First, it is not becoming increasingly popular, since next to no one uses it when taking into account a player’s worth. Secondly, any stat that puts Darwin Barney, Brett Lawrie, and Albert Pujols in ASG starting roles is from some other universe. 3) If you want to watch good defense, tune into the Web Gem segment. The All Star Game is about the big hitters in baseball. It’s a marketing tool to keep fans tuned in over the course of a six month season. And what keeps fans excited are big hitters, which is why very few take defense into account when choosing the ASG starters. So no, the American public did not get the votes wrong (with the exceptions of Nap, Posey, and Sandoval). 4) Finally, Braun is not a “horrid” fielder. His fielding % this season is .976 which is only slightly behind Holliday’s .983. And besides, Braun holds a career fielding % of .992 so although it’s been an average year for him, he’s typically a terrific left fielder.

        • Jamie Bradley

           I don’t know what your obsession is with obsolete stats, but it’s really not becoming.

          You did rely very heavily on BA and RBI in your initial retort as it’s mentioned multiple times. And you don’t seem to understand that WAR doesn’t exclude the skills that you are alluding to – getting hits, getting extra base hits, stealing bases, etc.

          Also, I’m not sure where your idea that “next to no one uses it when taking into account a player’s worth.” WAR is widely used. Baseball-reference.com, fangraphs.com, baseballprospectus.com, thehardballtimes.com and multiple other reputable baseball analysis and stats websites use the stat frequently. Hell, even ESPN – who is notoriously slow to catch on to new statistics – has begun to use the stat with some frequency.

          Also, fielding percentage is crap. Because it only accounts for errors. Errors, on their face, are a horrible way to rate a fielder. They only account for mistakes that a player makes on ball that he actually gets to. So, in theory, you or I could stand in the outfield and never move. And as long as we catch every ball that comes directly to us, we would never get an error.

          Errors – and therefore fielding percentage – put an unfair burden on players with great range. Braun, while he’s not nearly as bad in left as he was at third, takes horrible routes to fly balls and just flat out doesn’t get to many fly balls that other left fielders do.

          To put things more simply: the stats that you are relying on to make your decisions about which players are good, and which players are not, only give a very limited view of each player’s actual abilities.

          Batting average tells you that a player can get hits – but it values a HR the same as a single. It doesnt even count walks. And sacrifices aren’t included.

          HR tells you that a player has power – but that’s not the only way to be a good ballplayer.

          RBI tells you nothing except that he’s had a lot of players on in front of him.

          WAR encompasses everything. And outside of your own mind, there are plenty of people – as i said, even the notoriously-slow ESPN – who have accepted it as a far superior way of judging a player’s overall worth.

          Look, if at the end of the day, you want an offensive show, then fine. But I was trying to find the best all around players in the league this year. Those are the players that I believe should be recognized as All-Stars. If you disagree with that, that’s fine. That’s a principal difference in our methods for choosing an all-star team.

          But you should really look into what the statistic you choose to rely on really show you. Go pick up a copy of Baseball Between The Numbers by the Baseball Prospectus crew. Or at least try and expand your mind beyond the point of “what you see is what you get” baseball analysis.

          I understand that the concept of Barney on the all-star game is hard to grasp – as I said in my article, I was shocked, as well. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

          As baseball fans we’re way too enthralled by the long home runs and the flashy plays – but that doesn’t make someone a good player. Looking good isn’t necessarily being good.

          So, anyway, I appreciate you reading my articles and I hope you will continue to do so in the future. I would hope that, maybe, reading this might open your eyes to a new side of baseball that you find interesting to explore.

          Or you could just continue to roundly reject it because you refuse to believe otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m a baseball genius and I’m always right. Far from it; I’m wrong quite often.

          But, at the same time, I’m not naive enough to continue to rely on outdated and obsolete forms of player analysis.

          • Kevin

            Highly doubt you watch every one of Braun’s games to determine his route running skills. You fail to provide numerical data as to why he is such a bad outfielder, so your argument is invalid. As for your WAR argument, I’d like to know for each player if it takes into account the team they play for. Sure, they use a “generic substitute” for replacement, but when they calculate the wins I’m curious if they use a “generic team” or the actual team they play for. If it’s there actual team, then there, sir, is the flaw with WAR. If not, then I’d love to see the exact formula you’re using. You choose to get on your knees for WAR, and that’s fine. I choose to look at the entire stat lines when deciding an all star, so we can agree to disagree. As for AVG, HR, and RBI being outdated data, you are gravely mistaken. And p.s. the ball does not need to touch a fielder’s glove for it to be an error. So your theory of me or you standing and not moving and having a perfect fielding percentage is actually quite false.

          • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

            i dont know about a “generic team” but they do use a “pythagorean W-L” which is basically saying based on the runs scored and runs allowed, what their record should be

          • Kevin

            Exactly, so theoretically an offensive player would have a higher impact on a team in desperate needs of runs, thus giving someone on, say, the Cubs a higher rating when calculating his overall WAR.

          • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

            but its all hypothetical anyways. at least with pythagorean W-L. and i dont think WAR takes into account a teams record bad or good. its purely what a player contributes compared to another player of the same position

          • Kevin

            You don’t think it takes their record into account? If you and your friends want to sit around and post blogs about how great the WAR stat is you should probably be 100% certain as to what it takes into account. Or there’s always plan B: getting a real job.

          • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

            as i stated before, im not 100% sure. therefore im not going to get all worked up over it. brother, there’s no reason to get personal. you’re banned from baseball. its okay. it happens. take it like a man

          • Kevin

            you clearly have no authority to ban anyone from baseball so stop acting like a little bitch.

          • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

            im sorry man. it was a close vote, but you’re clearly not cut out for being a fan. totally banned.

          • Jamie Bradley

             You know, if you admittedly know so little about WAR, why are you trying so hard to bash me for using it? And yes, AVG and RBI are vastly outdated. They account for almost nothing in terms of player evaluation. Why on earth would anybody use AVG to evaluate a player when it doesn’t actually tell you how often he gets on base? It tells you a single skill – how often he gets hits. Why would you want to judge a player on one skill?

            RBI is entirely team-dependent. If players don’t get on base in front of the person in question, they’re not going to get RBI’s no matter how good they are. Period

            As for your confusion with WAR, the “flaw” that you believe sulleys the stat in its entirety is actually the beauty of the stat. It credits a player for the impact he makes – not the impact his team makes around him. It doesn’t give players extra credit for being on a good team.

            To quote fangraphs: “WAR is context, league, and park neutral. This means you can use WAR to compare players between years, leagues, and teams.”

            If you want to learn more about the stat, I’d sincerely suggest you pick up a copy of the book I mentioned above. They go into pretty great depth about it there. Or, read this:

            http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/misc/war/

            Or, of course, you can continue to bash something you admittedly know nothing about.

            Oh, and as for Braun:

            He has a whopping one run saved above average and his UZR is about 1.6. So, while this year is far and away the best year of his career defensively, He’s still average at best.

          • Kevin

            1) Getting hits in one of the main goals of an offense. So for you to say an AVG is severely outdated because it only looks at one skill, which so happens to be the most important skill of a hitter, then you are a fucking retard. Also, if you’d like to know how much a player gets on base, we have OBP and OPS to compliment the AVG for a more complete look. Although OBP is dependent upon the other team’s defense (errors) and pitching (walks) so it’s not entirely affected by the hitter. 2) Yes, you need a runner on base to get an RBI (with the exception of a solo home run). But to say it’s entirely team-dependent is bullshit. You still need to bring the runner in with a hit or sac fly. So yes, a runner needs to be on, but the hitter also needs to be clutch. Again, you’re a moron. 3)  “Or, of course, you can continue to bash something you admittedly know nothing about.” I said I know little. Not nothing. As a “journalist”, you should get your facts straight. 4) You first said Braun was a horrid fielder, now you say he’s average at best. You should probably stick with your original view if you’d like to win an argument.
            5) The 4 above reasons are why you write for the pathetic excuse of a sports blog and do not have a real job as a sports reporter. If you debated anyone on SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight you would get verbally bent over. Have fun writing for a blog your whole life.

          • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

            what exactly makes this pathetic? your pants are soiled because he used stats you refuse to acknowledge and then he backed them up with “for instances” galore. Why would anyone want to go on ESPN? That’s foolish. I hereby ban you from watching baseball ever again.

          • Kevin

            Not once did I refuse to acknowledge it; I’m simply showing the flaws in the statistic and why I don’t get on my knees for the WAR stat. And also, you ban me from watching baseball? What kind of faggot ass remark is that?

      • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

        I’m learning to sway away from BA and RBI…at least when they appear low it can be deceiving. High numbers though usually tell the tale. but a guy can be batting .257 with 45 RBI and still be effective. i wouldnt say DeJesus is having a bad year at all. so i agree with you on that. what would you say about OPS? relatively ancient stat in terms of whats come, but i think still highly important.

  • http://twitter.com/MidwayJustyna Justyna

    Joe Mauer has been splitting his time between DH, C and 1B, and has started a total of 38 games behind the plate this season. That fact alone disqualifies him from being an All-Star catcher. 

    • Jamie Bradley

       I won’t argue with that. I guess my point was more that Napoli was way further down the list and there were better choices.

  • http://twitter.com/midway_brennan brennan barry

    new comment for Banned Kid, since the comments are skinnier than your resolve and wit. if you wish to continue waxing intellectual about baseball things, feel free. We’re adults here and can talk things out clearly, or you can continue being a bigot and call us faggots and other terrible terrible evil things. We’re here because we love Chicago sports. We are fans. You, as simple a human being as you are, have been able to grasp some sense of loyalty to teams. You are however, a terrible human being. The fact that you continue on in this discussion without anything more than derogatory statements about people you dont know through anonymity of internet, proves beyond a fact that youre tactless and derelict as a person. Shame on you. If you have differences of opinion, there are ways to mark them on record without calling people faggots and pieces of shit. I really hope you continue reading our articles. Maybe one day we can please you and validate your existence.