As their website helpfully reminds us, the MLB All-Star Game is this July 16th at CitiField in New York -- and since that's less than a month away, we're well on our way to picking the representatives for both teams. Well, you all are. I'm mostly just kind of staring at the voting results with disappointment. With one or two notable exceptions, all the currently projected starters are just so … reasonable.
Even the exceptions are mostly reasonable. Take the man currently occupying the top of the list of American League shortstops, J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles. Voters are in a strange and frightening place with Derek Jeter, who has been voted the starting AL shortstop since 2006, missing the entire season so far with an injury. But Hardy, who followed up a disastrous April with two very good months of baseball, leads AL shortstops in home runs and plays very good defense at short -- perhaps Brendan Ryan was a better defender last year, but that doesn't mean Hardy's play in the field wasn't worthy of the Gold Glove he won for his work out there.
Ryan's closest competition on merit is the guy in third place, Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers. He doesn't have Hardy's glove, but even though Hardy's gone on a tear at the plate over the past few months he still can't touch Peralta's bat: .332/.387/.445 (.873), best among starting shortstops in the AL. If Toronto's Jose Reyes were healthy and hitting like he was when he went on the DL (.395/.465/.526) he'd be running away with the race, but the best case scenario for him is to be back on the Blue Jays by the All-Star Game, not representing them there.
Sandwiched between Hardy and Peralta is Elvis Andrus, who is in second mostly on reputation; the normally very solid glove-first shortstop of the Texas Rangers has had a deplorable season at the plate so far, and hasn't quite been his normal wizardly self in the field, either. The way voting is going, though, he might soon be in third and dropping. As for Derek Jeter, he still manages to make the cut in fifth place despite having not taken the field yet this year.
Other than that, the American League starters are all rather good choices -- Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera have the infield corners locked down as they should, considering they're either first or second in all three Triple Crown categories (Howie Kendrick is threatening Davis's average, however). Joe Mauer is having one of the best seasons of his career; Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball; and while Adam Jones, Mike Trout, and Nick Markakis as outfield starters is more than a bit Baltimore heavy -- swapping Markakis for Jose Bautista would be best from a merit standpoint -- but two out of three isn't bad, and both Trout and Jones deserve to be there.
Over in the National League, Giants fans with nothing better to do with their time than stuff the ballot box are messing everything up again, but that's what happens when a team wins two World Series in three years. So far the only near-criminal omission resulting from the San Francisco fanbase's meddling is Pablo Sandoval barely edging out David Wright's bid to be the starting third baseman at the All-Star Game in his own stadium, despite Wright having a much better season than Sandoval at the plate and Sandoval currently not even in the Giants starting lineup as he rehabs an injury.
However, Brandon Crawford is threatening Troy Tulowitzki's spot atop the National League shortstops, a spot Tulowitzki richly deserves -- and is unable to continue to build his case for, as he's gone to the DL himself. While Buster Posey isn't a bad choice for starting catcher by any means, Yadier Molina's having a better year both at and behind the plate; none of the Giants outfielders are currently in the starting three for the NL, though Hunter Pence is lurking down around eighth in the voting. Marco Scutaro, the Giants second baseman, sits behind Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds at the moment, and were the race just between those two men Scutaro would be getting robbed of a deserved starter's berth so far; however, St. Louis's Matt Carpenter is also in the picture, and he's not only able to field his position but is tearing the cover off the ball. He's not a veteran, however, and we have to be realistic here: There's a certain amount of inertia involved in All Star Game voting. How else do you think Phillips is on top in the first place?
The outfield in the NL is a bit more interesting than the AL's. Justin Upton has been bad recently, but so far his line on the whole is a very Justin Upton line. Bryce Harper is a no-brainer if he's healthy, but the state of his knee already makes one wonder who his injury replacement will be. Carlos Beltran, the vote leader so far, is having a very nice year as well, but guys like Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds and Domonic Brown of the Phillies have just as good claims to the spot as any of those three guys, and as much as I've ragged on Carlos Gomez in the past omitting him this year would be straight-up wrong, yet he languishes down in 11th. The Brewers have to send someone, and with Braun hurt it'll either be him or shortstop Jean Segura, but the way he's been playing he deserves to start on merit.
The good news: voting is still open for another few weeks, and these few problems are all temporary and entirely within your ability to fix -- or, should you be a Giants fan, worsen beyond all hopes of repair. The power is yours, thirty-five times per MLB.com account. Get stuffing.