I was watching Baseball Tonight last night—it happens—and they were doing a rundown of the All-Star selections. The estimable Peter Gammons assessed the AL vote as a victory for fantasy baseballism over ballot-stuffing homerism since there were 4 players selected who were on new teams.
So fans are no longer stuffing the ballot boxes in favorite of the local yokels but are stuffing it in favor of the players on their own imaginary teams. That's progress?
Maybe he should have mentioned the fact that the ridiculously homerish Japanese voters catapulted the eminently undeserving Ichiro Suzuki over former ex-pat Japanese player and at least defensible candidate, Hideki Matsui.
Let's take a look at the leaders per position per league in OPS to determine if the selected players were the right ones. By the way, I know that some rail against voting based on a half-season of stats while overlooking perennial All-Stars and quality veterans. However, I am of the opinion that if a veteran were worthy his stats would tell us that. I know that the All-Star game on occasion is a lovefest for doddering future Hall-of-Famers like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn even well after they have passed their primes. I guess that sort of maudlin pap placates the masses; I'd rather see the best players face each other and I’ll risk an odd poor Atlee Hammaker-esque selection or two to achieve that.
That said, in the AL, Pudge Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Vlad Guerrero lead in OPS at their respective positions. However, Giambi is a great player but would rank about middle of the pack among AL first baseman (Mark Teixeira leads). The same holds for Alfonso Soriano at second (Ron Belliard is the leader) and Derek Jeter at short (Carlos Guillen). A-Rod is third among third baseman in OPS (behind Melvin Mora and Hank Blalock). Suzuki's second to least among right fielders in OPS. It's well that no center fielder was chosen, since the league leader there. Carlos Beltran, is no longer in the league.
That's three for eight, and Ichiro is a downright awful pick especially when his inevitable second half flop kicks in.
In the NL, Piazza would lead all catchers if he qualified as a catcher. Pujols is third among first baseman (behind Thome and Helton) though he is having a better year than anyone in the AL at first. Jeff Kent is second behind Todd Walker at second in OPS. Rolen is well ahead of all other third baseman in the NL. Edgar Renteria is seventh among qualifying shortstops (Jack Wilson is the leader). Bonds again leads all left fielders. Griffey is third among center fielders (behind Edmonds and Finley). Sosa would be middle of the pack in right if he qualified (Drew leads).
The NL is also 3 for 8, but aside Renteria has no indefensible Ichiro-type choices. I guess listing Piazza as a catcher even though he's played more games (37 to 34) at first is unfortunate. But his catching Roger Clemens apparently has been designated the story of the game so I guess the likes of Gammons would actually have to talk baseball if it didn't happen.