Monday, June 20, 2011

All-Star speculation

Each team is guaranteed at least one player on the All-Star team. It's been quite a while since the Twins needed to use that mercy rule -- not since 2000 -- but this time around Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan, three fixtures, aren't realistic candidates.

Much of Denard
Span's value is in
his defense, and
that gets short shrift
for All-Star selections.
The Twins best all-around player this season, at least according to the statistical analysts, has been Denard Span. But Span (a) is out indefinitely with concussion syndrome and (b) looks better in the analytic stats than in the traditional ones. He's a singles-hitting center fielder who is rated highly in Wins Above Replacement in large part because of his defense (Baseball Reference's version makes him the best defensive player in the AL, the third best position player and the fifth best overall, but more than half that value comes from his glove).

Jason Kubel has had a good season at the plate, but (a) he's currently on the DL also and (b) has considerable competition among corner outfielders and DHs. Those kinds of players populate the leaderboards, and he's not there.

Pitchers? Scott Baker has been Minnesota's best starter, but a 5-4 record and 3.24 ERA isn't standing out this year. Francisco Liriano has the no-hitter, but he also has a 4-6 record and an ERA well above 4.

Few set-up men get
All-Star bids, but
Glen Perkins has been
stellar for the Twins.
This might be a good team for Ron Washington to think "need" from. What might he need on his roster in the game? A lefty specialist in the bullpen? Glen Perkins would not be a traditional All-Star type of selection, but he might be somebody to call on if Ryan Howard's up in a big situation with a right-hander on the hill. If Washington wants a pinch-runner, or a defensive sub in his outfield, Span makes sense (assuming he's available to play).

And, of course, there's Bud Selig's insistence to the managers that they have a multi-position player on their roster. Michael Cuddyer would fit that bill. But so would Michael Young, who is one of Washington's players and is hitting his usual .300+.

Bottom line: There isn't an obvious choice from this team, and who is picked will probably depend on what the All-Star roster needs after the election winners are in place.

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