All-Star voting concludes at midnight on Thursday, meaning we have a limited time to correct the wrongs that have cropped up in the early returns. For those who were smart enough to save their votes until the last minute, the below is a guide to the six races where those votes are most needed based on the updates released by Major League Baseball earlier this week. NL vote totals are as of Tuesday’s update; AL vote totals as of Monday’s update.
1. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 3,100,939
2. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 2,636,640
The Brewers’ get-out-the-vote campaign has been tremendously successful, with all eight of their regulars among the top-four vote recipients at their position (and all three of their outfielders in the top seven). They even made a campaign video in support of Lucroy that specifically targeted Molina, but incumbents are notoriously difficult to beat. Lucroy, who is hitting .331/.401/.510, is an MVP candidate. Molina, hitting .281/.333/.406 in fewer plate appearances, is having his worst season at the plate since 2010, a year in which he also started the All-Star game perhaps in part because he did so the year before. Once again, Molina is the incumbent, but the people need to rise up and overthrow him. Few players are more deserving of starting this year's Midsummer Classic than Lucroy.
1. Matt Wieters, Orioles: 2,103,385
2. Derek Norris, A's: 1,924,049
3. Brian McCann, Yankees: 1,624,214
4. Kurt Suzuki, Twins: 1,025,717
5. A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox: 925,996
This is absurd. Wieters is out for the season following Tommy John surgery and hasn’t played since May 10. McCann is hitting .220/.280/.360, while Pierzynski is hitting .257/.288/.357. The hope is that Norris (.304/.406/.509, but in a part-time role) can take the lead before the polls close, but the real crime here is that the Royals' Salvador Perez (.284/.331/.450, 10 HR in almost 50 percent more plate appearances than Norris) is nowhere to be seen in the top five. That’s because Perez didn’t heat up until June. That’s also why no one should fill out an All-Star ballot until late June at the earliest. With limited time left, vote for Norris.
Second base, AL
1. Robinson Cano, Mariners: 2,474,924
2. Ian Kinsler, Tigers: 1,603,185
3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 1,477,800
4. Jose Altuve, Astros: 1,312,805
5. Brian Dozier, Twins: 994,447
I won’t lodge a complaint about Miguel Cabrera leading the voting by a mile at first base even though Jose Abreu has been the more compelling player this season and is tied for the major league lead in home runs (26) and RBIs (67). I understand that Cabrera has earned his place in the voters' hearts with his performances in recent years and has played well enough in the first half of this season not to be displaced by three hot months from a rookie. I can’t buy into the same argument for Cano at second base, however. Just look at these numbers:
Altuve: .347/.387/.450, 37 SB
Cano: .323/.379/.445, 5 SB
Baseball-Reference’s WAR actually puts Ian Kinsler (.306/.343/.483) on top, with Cano third behind Altuve. That’s because Defensive Runs Saved thinks Kinsler has been the fifth-best fielder in the AL at any position this year. Either way, it’s clear that Cano has been outplayed by both Altuve, an All-Star in 2012, and Kinsler, who has played in three Midsummer Classics. There would seem to be little chance of either catching him at this point, however.
1. Derek Jeter, Yankees: 2,924,686
2. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox: 2,325,527
This vote isn’t about performance — it’s about sentimentality. I’m already on record as having a cold, cold heart with regard to this particular method of honoring the Yankees' captain. Jeter has made 13 All-Star teams in his magnificent career and started the game eight times. He doesn’t need your charity, and a vote for Jeter is very much charity. He’s eighth in the league in OPS among qualified shortstops, ninth in bWAR and hitting just .276/.330/.334 to Ramirez’s .294/.328/.423. Erick Aybar and Alcides Escobar are, like Escobar’s Kansas City teammate Perez, late gainers in terms of performance, but neither was in the top-five in Monday’s returns, so vote for Ramirez and let the AL make Jeter an honorary captain.
Third Base, NL
1. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers: 1,790,777
2. David Wright, Mets: 1,555,717
3. Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,406,026
4. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: 1,323,021
5. Todd Frazier, Reds: 1,224,931
Here, the Brewers’ get-out-vote effort is part of the problem. Ramirez missed 22 games with a hamstring strain, so he’s not even a qualifying hitter right now. But even if you toss out their respective playing time, there’s no question who the best third baseman in the NL has been thus far this season: It’s that guy way down in fifth place. Cincinnati's Todd Frazier has hit .287/.354/.503 with 17 home runs, tied for third in the NL, and 13 stolen bases, compared to Ramirez’s .287/.339/.486 with 11 homers and three steals. Frazier may not be an established star, but he deserves to start in Minnesota.
1. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: 3,173,810
2. Carlos Gomez, Brewers: 3,169,748
3. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: 3,001,907
4. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: 2,681,019
All four of these guys should be All-Stars this year, and they will be. But if only three of them can start, one of them should be Stanton. In addition to playing an outstanding rightfield, he leads the league in home runs (21) and RBIs (61), is third in on-base percentage, second in slugging and tied for first in WAR with Troy Tulowitzki, the only other NLer with an OPS over 1.000. Leave Puig, who has slashed just .263/.333/.356 since hitting his last home run on May 28, off your ballot to make room for Stanton.