Time is running out on the All-Star Ballot before the Midsummer Classic in Phoenix this year, and for some reason I have only voted 75 times. I can only help but think that if I created 12,000 new e-mail addresses, Prince and Rickie would be starters in the All-Star game. As it sits now, those two – plus Lucroy – are on the outside looking in when it comes to their respective positions.
What remains so frustrating about this is what we in Milwaukee actually take pride in: being a successful small market team.
Face it, Cheeseheads – sometimes it’s hard being a baseball fan in Wisconsin. It’s already hard enough that we have to play red-headed stepchild to Chicago when ever we try to brag about the city of Milwaukee, but when it comes to our National Pastime we can be downright invisible. We are getting more attention this year on the field, but then the Brewers had to go and mess that up by getting spanked by Boston and Tampa Bay in back-to-back losses – giving up our divisional lead and relegating the team to the margins of the National Sports coverage. When it comes to All-Star Voting, the issue of being a small market team becomes even more glaring. Just look at Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks.
At first base, both Joey Votto and Prince Fielder have been given gift in Pujols’ injury – not that I would ever publicly say that an injury is a good thing (I save that for the bars) – but the truth is that a majority of the votes given to Albert Pujols were based on notoriety over this season’s performance. Likewise, Joey Votto has been getting a lot of extra looks as the reigning MVP – well deserved, to be sure – but even his numbers don’t match up to Prince. Votto has a better average and OBP than Prince right now, but Fielder also leads all National League First basemen in doubles, home runs, RBI’s, Total Bases and games played. He also has one of the lowest strikeout totals (39) amongst everyday first basemen. If anyone deserves the spot in Phoenix this year, I think the numbers alone show it should be Prince. So it’s up to you readers to make sure the votes show it, too.
The same case could be make for Rickie Weeks right now. As much as I nit-pick about him, he is having a terrific year from any standpoint. You name it – Hits, Runs, Doubles, Home Runs, Total Bases, Walks – Rickie leads it in the National League. You know who doesn’t lead any of them? Your current vote leader, Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati. In fact, he doesn’t lead the National League in anything other than All-Star votes. Brandon gets the edge defensively but you show me a fan that votes just on defense, and I will show you a liar. Rickie currently sits 192,000 votes behind Phillips, so if everyone in Milwaukee votes for him 25 more times I think Weeks will have a pretty good lead.
I really wanted to keep building the case for Lucroy this year, but unfortunately his numbers have cooled significantly. He still remains one of the best all-around catchers in the National League, but Brian McCann of Atlanta and Yadier Molina in St. Louis have just been more consistent. Up until a few weeks ago, Lucroy was statistically even with McCann and an earlier push with the votes would have put him right up there but a lack of publicity (our fault), and a recent lack of plate discipline (his fault) will keep him off the roster. And that’s ok, because this is only his second year and he is still improving on both sides of the ball.
Milwaukee pitchers getting a nod for the All-Star game is a bit of a crap shoot, because you really do have to read between the lines. The numbers aren’t the best, but they have provided some incredible games for us and the Brewers would be nowhere without the top three in the rotation this season. My guess would be that either Marcum or Yo will get a spot, and in a perfect world both of them would. Hopefully Ax and Greinke get a spot next season, but their slow starts will definitely put them out of the running for 2011. In truth, I’m just happy that the fans don’t pick pitchers – otherwise Roy Halladay would be pitching 9 innings.
So Ryan Braun is the shoo-in to start in the outfield and is the leading vote-getter again this season, but it’s up to every Brewer fan to do their part and get three starters from Milwaukee to Phoenix. We haven’t had three position players in the All-Star game since 1983, let alone three starters. These three guys – Fielder, Weeks and Braun – certainly deserve this year. Don’t let a silly thing like small market mentality get in the way. Vote.