It’s that time of the year again.
The time when fans can go social-media crazy. The time when they can argue tirelessly with other fans over which player is more deserving. The time when teams will bribe their fan bases to vote.
That’s right, it’s All-Star voting time. In 2012, Giants fans managed to piss off baseball fans all over the country when they voted in Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Melky Cabrera while Matt Cain started. The first ballot update for the National League was released on Wednesday morning with several Colorado Rockies atop the list. San Francisco, however, does have a few guys in the hunt.
But which Giants, if any, deserve to be All-Stars this season?
Well, there are three guys who are pretty deserving (in my humble opinion) and would make great first-time All-Stars.
1. Brandon Crawford. The good news is that Crawford currently sits in second-place on the NL ballot at the shortstop position. The bad news is that he’s more than 500,000 votes behind the first-place Troy Tulowitzki. The Rockies slugger is leading the league in average (.373), on base percentage (.476), and slugging percentage (.711), is second in home runs (14), and is third in RBIs (37). It’ll be hard, if not impossible, to top him. But Crawford has proved this year that he deserves some consideration. He’s well on his way to his best offensive season so far in the big leagues. Despite hitting only .246 (entering Wednesday’s game), he’s sixth in the league among shortstops in home runs (six), fifth in RBIs (24), fifth in slugging percentage (.443), and tied with Adeiny Hechavarria with three triples. In the last week of May, Crawford is already more than half way to his career highs in home runs (nine) and RBIs (45). His 2014 OPS (on base plus slugging) of .757 is already a career-high, as are his two stolen bases.
And no one can deny how solid Crawford has been defensively. Though it’s early, there’s already talk of a Gold Glove this year, and if you’ve watched him play you know just how clutch his skills in the field have been for the Giants. He’s currently fourth in fielding percentage (.982), having only committed four errors. He’s third with 150 assists, 30 double plays turned, and 64 put outs (he’s tied with Tulowitzki on this one).
While his numbers aren’t overwhelming on paper, Crawford has saved run after run with his diving stops and strong throws. He’s also picked up his first career Splash Hit and his first career walk-off home run, adding to an already special 2014. His first trip to the All-Star game would make it that much more memorable.
2. Angel Pagan. Pagan is currently eighth in the race to be an outfielder on the NL All-Star team. And maybe he doesn’t deserve to start, but he definitely deserves to be there. Giants fans know just how valuable their center fielder is to this team, as the team went 49-64 after he was placed on the disabled list on May 26, 2013. The team was in first place and five games over .500 before he went down. He had surgery to repair a torn hamstring and has rebounded nicely this season. So far, he’s been one of the best lead-off men in the game. As the lead-off guy, Pagan is tied with Charlie Blackmon (who’s leading the NL ballot for outfielders) with 58 hits, is third in OPS (.815), is fifth in RBIs (15), sixth in walks (13), and sixth in home runs (three). Oh, and he’s hitting .319 overall and .324 when leading off. This team is vastly different when Pagan is not in the line-up, and his stats put him in the running to be an alternate on the All-Star team.
3. But the guy I’d personally most like to see make his first appearance at the All-Star game would have to be Michael Morse. He currently sits in ninth place on the ballot, and he’s proven to be possibly the best off-season pick up in baseball. In the National League, he’s third in RBIs (34), fourth in home runs (ten, tied with Yasiel Puig), fourth in doubles (13), and twelfth in average (.285). Most impressively, however, is what he’s brought to this San Francisco line up. Morse is leading the black and orange in home runs, RBIs, doubles, hits (49), and slugging percentage (.547).
And I know that indefinable qualities and leadership don’t get you All-Star votes, but if they did Morse would automatically be in. His 19 two-out RBIs are second in the majors, and the spark he’s provided in the absence of Brandon Belt has helped propel the Giants to the best record in baseball.
There’s a long way to go in the 2014 campaign, but if the voting ended tomorrow, those three guys would deserve to be first-time All-Stars. And we all know the power of a motivated Giants fan…