Indians up for All-Star consideration
JUL 04, 2013 8:47a ET
Major League Baseball’s annual All Star game is fast approaching. The 84th edition of the midsummer classic is set to be played on Tuesday July 16th in New York, NY at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Fan voting for the starters for both the American League and National League ends today. The complete rosters, including the reserves handpicked by the managers, will be unveiled on Saturday July 6th at 6:30 p.m. ET live on Fox’s nationally televised 2013 MLB All Star Selection Show.
The Indians will not have any players voted in by the fans, but there are several worthy candidates which Tigers manager Jim Leyland will have to strongly consider as reserves.
Here is a breakdown of the top Indians players up for consideration, from most likely to least likely.
Justin Masterson, RHP
If there ever was a slam dunk to represent the Indians in the All Star game this year, Masterson would be it. Pitchers are not voted in by the fans, so the manager is completely responsible for making up the pitching staff.
Masterson is in the midst of a special season. Among qualified starting pitchers in the American League, Masterson ranks 13th in ERA (3.48) and really shines everywhere else. He ranks 1st in innings pitched (124.0), 3rd in strikeouts (125), 4th in wins (10), 6th in opponent batting average against (.223), and 5th in opponent OPS against (.627). He’s having a great year, one that is Cy Young worthy and could put him in the top five or six finishers if he continues to pitch like this through the end of the year.
The only question is whether Masterson would be available to pitch in the All Star game. He is scheduled to start the Sunday prior, which would make him unavailable for the game. The Indians might choose to have him rest in preperation for the big second half burden he will need to carry with the rotation.
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Robinson Cano of the Yankees will be voted in as the starter. But beyond that, it will be interesting to see who Leyland selects as the backup second baseman and if a third second baseman is added to the roster.
Indians fans know how blistering hot Jason Kipnis was in June. He hit a Nintendo-like .419 with 5 homers, 25 RBI, 30 walks and 1.216 OPS in 27 games for the month. His giant month put him right in the mix for possible consideration for a reserve spot at second base, but was it enough?
Kipnis is up against the likes of Dustin Pedroia (.323 AVG, 5 HR, 47 RBI, .850 OPS, 4.1 WAR) and Howie Kendrick (.323 AVG, 9 HR, 38 RBI, .841 OPS, 2.7 WAR), both of which are just as deserving as Kipnis who is hitting .299 with 12 HR, 51 RBI, .913 OPS and 3.7 WAR. Kipnis is outperforming both and he should get more consideration over someone like Kendrick, but it will be hard for him to overcome the star power and former MVP-winning Pedroia.
My prediction is that even if Cano is voted in and Pedroia is selected as a reserve, Leyland will roster a third second baseman in Kipnis. Otherwise, Kipnis could take it out on his Tigers for the rest of the season and years to come.
Joe Mauer of the Twins will be voted in as the starting catcher, but the backup and possible third spot, are up in the air. At the moment, Santana ranks 3rd among catchers in the American League in batting average (.268), 2nd in on-base percentage (.382), 3rd in slugging percentage (.457), 2nd in OPS (.838), and 2nd in WAR (2.0).
Santana got off to a great start this year hitting .389 with a 1.198 OPS in April, but then slipped to .200 with a .661 OPS in May and then .250 with a .746 OPS in June, so his overall numbers are greatly affected by his hot start to the season.
Based on offense, Santana has an edge over Royals catcher Salvador Perez (.301/.327/.422/.749 and 2.0 WAR). If Leyland bases his choice on defense, Perez will probably get the nod.
Houston's catcher Jason Castro has had a solid year and could throw a wrench in things if he is selected as their lone representative. Castro is hitting .266 with 11 homer, 27 RBI, and .797 OPS which could push both Santana and Perez to the third catcher selected or off the roster completely.
Santana’s pedestrian performance over the last two months will probably cost him a spot. Even if Castro is selected and a third catcher is taken, Perez will fill the spot.
Joe Smith and Cody Allen, RHP
I listed both Smith and Allen together here simply because both deserve consideration, but both have little chance of being selected since closers and eighth inning setup men get almost all of the attention.
Smith boasts a 2.01 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and 1.1 WAR in 34 appearances, and Allen is not far behind with a 2.14 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 and 0.6 WAR in 33 appearances.