One of the more interesting developments in baseball over the past few years, has been the usage of advanced metrics by fans in baseball. You almost can’t get into a baseball debate without talking about BABIP, wOBA, or even UZR anymore. Whether or not that’s a good thing, that’s probably another debate. But, there is no escaping the effect that sites like have Fangraphs have had on how we view the quality of baseball players.
That’s why I like taking a strictly WAR based look at who should be in the All Star game. It’s interesting to compare final rosters, or who the fans choose, against strictly numbers based criteria. So, as the title of this piece suggests, I will be looking at the WAR leaders on Fangraphs, and see who, according them, should be starting in the All-Star game in July as of today.
Catcher- A.J. Pierzynski (2.1 WAR)
Raise you hand if you didn’t realize the season Pierzynski was having for the White Sox. For a player that isn’t quiet at all, he has toiled in relative anonymity in Chicago while having a fantastic 2012 season. With 12 homers, and a wOBA of .356, and a plus defensive rating, A.J. should get the nod for the American League.
1st Base- Paul Konerko (2.4 WAR)
This one shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Konerko is one heck of a hitter, and 2012 has been one of, if not his best season to date. His .431 wOBA is easily the best at the position, and he leads 2nd place Edwin Encarnacion by a half a win.
2nd Base- Robinson Cano (3.2 WAR)
Cano is arguably the best 2nd baseman in baseball, along with the Rangers Ian Kinsler, so it’s no surprise to see him leading this list. Thing is, I don’t think he is even getting close to the credit he should be for the kind of season he is having. His .910 OPS is easily the best among American League 2B.
Shortstop- Elvis Andrus (2.7 WAR)
Andrus isn’t physically imposing by any stretch, but he gets the job done at one of the most demanding positions in baseball. About the only thing he doesn’t do is hit for power. He hits for average, runs well, is a plus defender, and walks almost as much as he strikes out.
If this one is a toss-up, I get to break the tie here. I am giving this one to Moustakas. I think Moustakas has been a little more consistent so far this season, and his power numbers give him the edge. Lawrie is a better base runner and a slightly better defender, but on an All-Star team, the offense counts.
Outfielder- Josh Hamilton (3.6 WAR)
Hamilton looked like he was going to run away with the MVP trophy in May. Now, he has come back to earth. Still, the numbers are fantastic, and he can certainly be the left fielder on my All-Star team. He is slugging an amazing .674. That’s like a video game number.
Outfielder- Mike Trout (3.5 WAR)
Okay, the heck with just going for the Rookie of the Year award. Mike Trout at 20 years old has put himself into the MVP conversation, and his team the Angels back into the playoff picture. I’m not sure that anyone has had a bigger impact on their team this season than Trout.
Outfielder- Adam Jones (3.4 WAR)
Jones has always had the tools to become one of the games best center fielders. He just hasn’t put together all phases of the game to the extent he has in 2012 though. Jones is hitting for power and average, as well as running the bases and playing above average defense. He has done it all for the resurgent Orioles.
Starting Pitcher- Justin Verlander (3.6 WAR)
Finally! A Detroit Tiger! Yep, Verlander is on pace, at least with everything except wins, to be better than last season. The reigning AL MVP hasn’t slowed down one bit, and undoubtedly will be starting the All-Star game in 2012. If he doesn’t, that would be kind of a shock. The only other option is the White Sox’ Chris Sale, who with a few more innings, might have actually beat Verlander out.