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Wednesday, May 22, 2002

An Early Look at Possible First-time NL All-Stars

Rich predicts about ten first-time All-stars in the Senior Circuit.

Forget for a moment that it’s way too early to pick this year’s
All-Star teams. It’s fun to jump the gun, so I’m ready to leap right
in. I’d like to get a handle on which players who have never before
made an All-Star team are the most likely to break through this
season, based mostly on who has gotten off to the hottest start at
each position.

 

Like most All-Star voters, I heavily weight how a player has
performed from the start of a season up to the end of the voting. Is
that fair? Perhaps not. But who cares… it’s just an exhibition
game. I also, like most voters, give some weight to players who play
for my team (the A’s). But I’m not crazy in this regard. I’m therefore
unlikely to give Ramon Hernandez, .204/.241/.287, my vote for AL
catcher.

 

Today I will go over the National League candidates. Tomorrow, I
will address the American League.

 

In the Senior Circuit, not only does it appear that there are a
large number of good candidates, but it looks like about 10 players on
the 2002 team will be first-timers. Here are the best NL break through
candidates for each position:

 

Catcher - Michael Barret (MON),
.348/.398/.591. Barrett leads all starting NL catchers in Runs
Created, Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage;
Barrett is tied for the lead (with Paul Lo Duca) for most Hits.
LoDuca(LAD), .308/.375/.438, and Damian Miller (ARI), .263/.349/.518,
are two other possibilities at this spot. I suspect that Mike
Piazza (NYM), .254/.333/.500, will be voted in by the fans. So
if Bob Brenly goes with 3 catchers, I have a feeling that LoDuca will
miss the cut.

 

First Base - No one really stands out
as a first-timer, here. Todd Helton and Jeff Bagwell are the
likely All-Stars at this position. However, Richie Sexson (MIL),
.258/.295/.546, and Derrek Lee (FLA), .245/.335/.497, both stand an
outside chance of breaking through. Lee gets some extra credit
because I saw him play in high school.

 

Second Base - Junior Spivey (ARI),
.331/.415/.563, has really emerged. He was rather old (26) for a
Rookie last year, so it wasn’t unreasonable to think his ceiling was
not all that high. But he’s gotten off to a great start and will
very likely be an All-Star. Luis Castillo (FLA), .303/.372/.355, is
the only other possibility here.

 

Third Base - There will probably be
two first-time All-Stars at this spot on the NL team. Mike
Lowell (FLA), .337/.384/.576, and Scott Rolen (PHI), .256/.356/.470,
are more deserving than any others who are veterans of All-Star games
gone by, so far at least.

 

Shortstop - Infamous for his 185
strike outs in 2001, Jose Hernandez (MIL), .273/.354/.540, who is now
on pace to whiff 202 times this year, stands a good chance of making
his first All-Star team (which will be played in his home park, by the
way). Juan Uribe (COL), .282/.344/.388, is off to a nice start,
but unless Brenly goes with three shortstops, Uribe, whose OPS is .073
higher at Coors than on the road, will probably be watching the game
on TV.

 

Outfield - It’s unlikely that any
first-time All-Stars will make the NL outfield in 2002. However,
JD Drew (STL), .291/.362/.475, and Danny Bautista (ARI),
.340/.384/.524, are reasonable possibilities. Depending on how
things go over the next six weeks, the two young Reds, Adam Dunn,
.257/.414/.514, and Austin Kearns, .372/.505/.628, may become
candidates. (Kearns, by the way, may be giving Kaz Ishii a run
for his Yen as the Rookie of the Year in the NL. Was Kearns on
anyone’s list as a favorite for the ROY?)

 

Starting Pitchers - The best bets
look to be Odalis Perez (LAD), 4-2, 2.00 ERA, Kirk Rueter (SFG), 6-1,
2.51 ERA, Kazuhisa Ishii, (LAD), 6-1, 2.70 ERA, Roy Oswalt (HOU), 5-2,
2.32 ERA, Josh Fogg (PIT), 5-1, 2.36 ERA, and Pedro Astacio (NYM),
6-2, 2.49 ERA.

 

Relief Pitchers - The most likely
first-timer is Mike Williams (PIT), 15 Saves, 0.55 ERA. Eric
Gagne, 14 Saves, 1.17 ERA, is probably deserving (now) over Trevor
Hoffman; however, the Padres will likely get Hoffman as that club’s
lone All-Star. So my guess is that Gagne may
missout. Danny Graves (CIN), 14 Saves, 2.70 ERA, stands a
chance, depending on how many relievers are picked. It wouldn’t
surprise me also if Brenly goes with his closer, Byung-Hyun Kim, who
has 12 Saves in 13 chances with a 1.38 ERA.

 

Tomorrow, I will run down the Junior
Circuit.

 

Rich Rifkin Posted: May 22, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. bob mong Posted: May 22, 2002 at 12:30 AM (#605219)
I didn't know that Scott Rolen had never been to an All Star Game. Kinda interesting, that...
   2. Loren F. Posted: May 22, 2002 at 12:30 AM (#605220)
If Brenly goes with six starting pitchers, it seems to me that there would only be room for two or three of those first-timers. I'd guess Ishii and Reuter would be the top picks, then.
   3. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: May 22, 2002 at 12:30 AM (#605221)
I'm not crazy in this regard. I'm therefore unlikely to give Ramon Hernandez, .204/.241/.287, my vote for AL catcher.

Heh... I'm unlikely to give him my vote for dog catcher.
   4. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 22, 2002 at 12:30 AM (#605223)
I'm not saying it's in any way right, but I'd have to think there's a pretty good chance Roberto Alomar will be picked as the NL second baseman by the fans.

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