Welcome to the All-Star edition of The Heat Index! Unless you live under a very small rock, you probably know that next week is the All-Star game in sunny Arizona. So, this week’s column focuses on the Hot and Cold players who are participating in the coming week’s festivities. You might think that all the players who make the All-Star team should be in the hot column. But you would be wrong. This year, more than ever, it has become clear that the All-Star voting is more of a popularity contest than a vote based on actual stats. That is why it was easy to come up with five “All-Stars” who have been outperformed but still made the team. Let’s dive in.
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1. In the last seven days, Jose Bautista is hitting .360 with four homers and six RBIs. He received the most votes for the All-Star game and is a participant in the Home Run Derby. Bautista is on pace to hit 52 home runs this year and leads the league in HR, BB, SLG, and OPS. If you follow him on Twitter you know why, #Beastmode.
2. Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t had as much production over the last seven days but his stats this year are still ridiculous. When the Red Sox said that his bat was perfect for Fenway Park, they were right. Gonzalez is hitting .370 at home this year and leads the league with 75 RBIs. He is on pace for 30 home runs and 143 RBIs. This year should be a career year for him as he is on pace to crush his career highs in almost every category.
3. Curtis Granderson has been on a tear over the last week. His 25 home runs rank second in the AL and four of those came in the last seven days. He ranks first in the AL in runs scored and second in SLG. Granderson is only five homers away from his career high of 30. He is a catalyst in the Yankees lineup and should be for years to come.
4. Even though Ryan Braun has been out with a strained calf muscle for the last four games, he hit .571 in the week before getting hurt. Braun has been consistently productive this year hitting .320 with 62 RBIs. His base stealing has taken a sharp uptick and he has 19 SB on the season (career high is 20). Hopefully this will be the year Braun gets his first hit in an All-Star game. He is 0-7 with three strikeouts in three All-Star appearances.
5. This year in my fantasy league I drafted Jair Jurrjens in the 10th round and promptly dropped him in May for some unknown reason. I really can’t remember why. I must have hit my head on something. Jurrjens has been absolutely lights out this season as he leads the NL in wins (11) and ERA (1.89). Most recently he threw a one-hit shutout against the Orioles. This guy is only 25 years old. The Braves have something special here and that is saying a lot looking back at their history of great pitchers.
Bonus: Futures game — The 2011 Futures Game is stocked full of top prospects including Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Julio Teheran, Jose Altuve and Manny Machado just to name a few. Watch the game and get ready for lots of call-ups in the coming months.
1. It is sad that slumping Placido Polanco was the best option at third base for the NL. His problems started in May when he hit .248 and had only 10 RBIs. However, June was even worse than May and he hit .213 while driving in 10 runs. Why was he voted to the All-Star Game? Your guess is as good as mine.
2. Derek Jeter. In Jeter’s quest for 3,000 hits this season, he has not been the Derek Jeter that New York knows and loves. This season, he is batting .258/.322/.327 with 22 RBIs and 40 runs scored. His WAR is at an all time low of 0.5 and his ISO is also at an all time low .069. Jeter’s defense is not the best in the AL, and his range has definitely decreased. Jeter got into the All-Star Game strictly on his name and the Yankees large-market share of baseball fans. Asdrubal Cabrera should be starting, not Jeter.
3. Another Yankee has made this list! Go figure! Russell Martin has absolutely no business stepping onto the field at the All-Star Game, even if he is just a replacement. Martin is hitting a decent .220 (for a catcher) and his power is above average (10 HR), but a few different catchers have outperformed him including Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez and Matt Weiters. Martin is just another example of the Yankees large-market voting ability.
4. Tim Lincecum has decent stats this year but they do not merit and All-Star appearance. His 3.14 ERA is 10th in the NL, his 6 wins have him tied for 7th (20th overall) in the NL, and his 41 walks rank with some of the worst. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great pitcher (2 CY awards), but his spot probably should have been given to someone else this year.
5. I love Josh Hamilton just as much as the next guy, but why is he in the All-Star Game? Hamilton has only played in 50 games this year while hitting .294 with 10 homers. Alex Gordon and Brennan Boesch have outproduced him this year and they aren’t even reserves. Love the guy but he does not deserve to be a starter this year.
Bonus: The Home Run Derby is pretty cold in my opinion this year. David Ortiz compiled a decent team of Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, and Adrian Gonzalez. This team is good but not great. What happened to Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Nelson Cruz or Mark Reynolds to name a few? All have great power and have hit more homers than Cano or Gonzalez this year. Prince Fielder’s team is a failure besides his choice of Matt Holliday. Rickie Weeks is not known for hitting home runs, so I hope Fielder knows something we don’t know. Matt Kemp was a decent choice but still not a legendary power. I would have liked to see Lance Berkman, Mike Stanton or Ryan Howard in Kemp’s spot and Wily Mo Pena in Week’s spot. Wily Mo hits legendary home runs in BP and would have been a blast to watch.
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