[With nods to my friend Chris, "The Baseball Procrastinator", for the title]
Mike Bauman at MLB.COM opines that "[t]he voting for the 2007 All-Star Game indicates, more than anything else, that the fans have been paying attention." I beg to differ with the estimable Mr. Baumantruthfully, I don't know if writing for MLB requires more than a head for the byline picture, but the fans' vote was as unfathomable as ever to me.
I mean, there were a few favorable signs: Russell Martin, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, all are young players that are the best at their respective positions that were tabbed to start the All-Star Game by the fans. But really Martin and Utley had no real competition and these plusses in no way outweigh the minuses at other positions.
Selecting Ivan Rodriguez was particularly indefensible given that he is not even in the top five catchers in the AL this year. Pudge is not in Jorge Posada's or Victor Martinez's league, so to speak. Placido Polanco is having a nice season as usual, but Brian Roberts should have been the starting second baseman. Cabrera was a better choice than David Wright at third. Carlos Beltran may have been a worse choice than Pudge Rodriguezthere were nine outfielders that were arguably better than him but did not get chosen.
Actually, Bauman chides the fans for picking Barry Bonds was a "sentimental vote" that it indicates that the " the Giants' 'Vote Bonds' campaign was a big success" and that "voters were willing to overlook the steroid allegations, and give a nod to the weight of Bonds' career". This is completely ludicrous. Bonds is not only arguably still the best outfielder in baseball, he is among the top handful of players in the National League at the age of 42. Bonds is one that the fans got right.
As for the players and managers, they had more than their fair share of bad picks. J.J. Hardy was tabbed as the backup at short for the NL, but Edgar Renteria was a better pick. They also picked Alfonso Soriano, the eighth best NL outfielder, and Carlos Lee, the 15th. In the AL, the players took Justin Morneau, largely because he is the reigning league MVP. He is having a fine season, but at first, he might be the sixth best candidate. They also picked Manny Being Manny Ramirez, the 13th best OF candidate.
By the way, I have to mention that Morneau got tabbed largely because he is the current AL MVP, but the reigning NL MVP got no respect, not even in his hometown. Ryan Howard was the 24th best position player in the NL (by my method below) while Morneau was 23rd, and Howard's been even better since he returned from early season injuries. But Howard is batting in the .250s, so the NL pollsters completely overlook him. What is worse is that in Philly the talk is all about Jimmy Rollins getting snubbed, even though there are two clearly better shortstops who aren't going either. In my opinion, none of these three players should go to the ASG, but it's curious that Morneau can be tabbed to be the only true first baseman on the AL roster.
Tony LaRussa made maybe the worst selection, Freddy Sanchez, arguably the 55th best position player in the NL, as a reserve at second. He overlooked Edgar Renteria, perhaps the best SS candidate. In the AL, Jim Leyland made some very fine selections in Victor Martinez and Brian Roberts, arguably the best players at their respective positions in the league. However, Leyland also picked seventh-best shortstop, Michael Young, and the fourteenth best outfielder, Carl Crawford, and before you say that he had to take Crawford as the obligatory D-Ray, I would argue that Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton were both better selections (even Brendan Harris was). In fact, they were in the top two at their respective positions in the league. With DH David Ortiz as the starting first baseman, Leyland had cause to pick another first basemanthere are four in the NL.
And top-ten players Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Eric Byrnes, and Edgar Renteria were the big snubs.
As far as the method I used, I ranked the top eighty or so players per league by OPS and then added in rankings for Baseball Prospectus' VORP and Bill James' Win Shares. Ranked the players finally by the average rank. And here are the final results by position: