From the gutter to the grail…
Oh, sorry, I was singing the hymn to the future World Champions under my breath. I have this vision of the seas of Lake Erie opening up, tires and dead fish littering the sea bed, as the four horsemen of the Rolling Tribe sweep through the American League Standings.
Who would those horsemen be, though? Sort of a star amongst all. An all-star, if you will. Every winning team usually needs a few.
I could go on and on about my feelings towards the All-Star Game, but that rant could take up much too much space. If you ask really nicely I could light my corncob pipe, sit down in front of the fireplace and moan and complain for hours. No? Another time, perhaps.
Anywho, A recent poll was posted on MLB.com’s Indians beat report Jordan Bastion’s asking who do you, the fans, think best deserves to be on the 2013 American League All-Star team. The results were as follows at the time of this writing (June 15th):
- Justin Masterson – 50.91%
- Michael Brantley – 23.64%
- Carlos Santana – 9.09%
- Jason Kipnis – 7.27%
- Mark Reynolds – 5.45%
- Someone else – 3.64%
It’s the list one should probably expect, but I find the order to be sort of perplexing. Granted, the majority has it right by a country mile with Justin, but I’ve got a job to do. Let’s look a little more in-depth at these titans of Progressive Field. (All stats are from the time of writing, June 15th).
1. Justin Masterson is having the year we all desperately needed. He ain’t no Max Scherzer, but given the dire state of the expectations of the Indians rotation, we will take this year in and year out. As of this writing he leads the league in batters faced (424), complete game shutouts (1-0 wins are the best wins a heart attack can give), and his WHIP, K/9, and SO/BB ratio are vastly improved over his career stats. He has also been right on the heels of King Felix for innings pitched on the season (102.1 to 104.2 respectively). His left on base percentage (LOB%) is a decently average 75.6% and his batting average balls in play (.272) is low by his career mark (.302), but his fielder independent pitching (FIP) is 3.52, exactly where his traditional ERA is. All of this points to a vastly improved pitcher whose slider melts my heart and gives Indians fans hope that the next 100 innings will be as good as the first. If any Indian really belongs alongside the likes of Felix Hernandez and Mike Trout, it would be this guy.
2. Here is where my excitement dwindles a bit. Carlos Santana through the month of April had nearly rubber-stamped his ticket to Citi Field. We all knew this, because he did everything right (except field, but we are used to that by now, I hope). A triple slash line of .389/.476/.722 for a spit-your-cereal-out OPS of 1.198. Since, he has fallen far off that admittedly unsustainable pace to the I-really-have-no-right-to-complain-when-you-really-think-about-it .284/.389/.491. Where once there was a rubber stamp, now there is a really nice pat on the back. Pretty darn good for an Indians fan, but not quite good enough to eclipse that insufferably, consistently great Joe Mauer.
3. Mark Reynolds hit a wall. It was a wall made of steel-infused concrete about fifteen feet wide. Where once there was an OPS of 14 carat 1.019 at the end of April, now there is the scratched, battered, gumball machine plastic ring of .760. I used to smile at the man’s toe-tap swing as home run after home run elicited gales of admiration. Now, I sigh in resignation as he walks back to the dugout in shame after every painful swing and miss. He is still a contributor, but the 0.1 win above replacement he has generated (thanks largely to his defense) really is a testament to how far he has fallen. At least Chisenhall is back to provide a nice change of pace.
4. Wait, Michael Brantley? Really? I mean, Dr. Smooth can smile at me all day if he wants. Those sunglasses are boss. But an all-star? I love his sexy .342 OBP, his 19 walks to only 29 strikeouts and his perfectly acceptable .284 batting average. But what on earth makes a left fielder with a .698 OPS and only 2 home runs an all-star? Put the pipe down, sillies.
5. Jason Kipnis is such a fascinating tale this year. Where once I was pulling my hair out every time I saw him batting second in the order, I now smile in relief every time I see him at the plate. Kipnis’ April officially tanked his chances of making his way to the Game, but he has done absolutely everything he can to reverse that notion. He is on pace to beat his ZIPs projected 18/27 despite such a catastrophic start and I’m really looking forward to the notion that he can possibly attain the lofty goal of a 20/35 season.
It is sad to say, but it appears this season will be another one where we see no Chief in the first inning of the All-Star Game. Not all is lost, of course. We can take solace in the fact that the Game is nothing but a popularity contest anyway. I mean, Elvis Andrus has more votes than Jhonny Peralta at shortstop and Derek Jeter has nearly half as many votes as Elvis. What a silly process.
On a lighter note, I propose an all-star vote for utility players. Every teams got one, and I have to say, nearly everything Ryan Raburn does must make Detroit sick to their stomachs that they let him go so easily. They got Miggy, we got Raburn. Good enough for me.