Alexei Ramirez deserves All-Star start at shortstop
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI For Sun-Times Media June 9, 2014 10:37PM
Updated: June 9, 2014 10:46PM
That fans have made the Yankees’ Derek Jeter the leader at shortstop in American League All-Star voting is no great shock. It’s the voters’ prerogative to opt to see a sure-fire Hall of Famer in one last All-Star Game.
But if you want to vote for the shortstop who has had the best start to 2014, that’s not Jeter. Not even close.
By rWAR — Baseball-Reference.com’s version of wins above replacement — the AL leader is the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez. His 2.6 WAR through Sunday tops the Angels’ Erick Aybar (2.0). Jeter lags far behind, 15th in the AL at 0.0 — right at replacement level.
Ramirez is having the best offensive season of his career, with a .316 batting average, .352 on-base percentage and .451 slugging percentage for an .803 OPS. He also has posted five defensive runs saved, leading to a 1.0 defensive WAR.
Jeter’s offense has collapsed, with a .612 OPS that’s 211 points below his career average. And his offensive game always has been better than his defense. With a minus-9.2 career dWAR, he has been on the positive side only three times in his 20-year career. This season, Jeter’s dWAR is minus-0.1.
A selection of Jeter this season is a career award. Right now, Ramirez is a better player, as are many other AL shortstops.
Other AL All-Star contenders, by the numbers:
First base: The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, the two-time defending AL most valuable player, has been the leader, and he’s having another strong season with a .941 OPS and 2.4 WAR. That puts him in a virtual dead heat with the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion (.942, 2.5) and the Athletics’ Brandon Moss (.953, 2.5).
Second base: Roll the dice and pick a candidate among the Twins’ Brian Dozier (.796 OPS, 2.3 WAR), the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia (.739, 2.2), the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler (.780, 2.2) and the Angels’ Howie Kendrick (.743, 2.0).
Third base: No contest. The A’s Josh Donaldson (.894 OPS, league-leading 15 runs saved) has been the AL’s best player at any position with a 4.7 WAR.
Outfield: The fans so far have liked the Angels’ Mike Trout (.930 OPS, 3.3 WAR), the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (.983, 3.5) and the Blue Jays’ Melky Cabrera (.835, 1.4). The numbers like Trout and Bautista but much prefer Royals defensive whiz Alex Gordon (.822, 3.4, 15 runs saved) to Cabrera, whose WAR ranks 12th among AL outfielders.
Catcher: The A’s Derek Norris and the Royals’ Salvador Perez are tied at 1.8 WAR, with the Indians’ Yan Gomes right behind at 1.6. Norris has been the best hitter with an .882 OPS to .758 for Gomes and .748 for Perez, but Perez has been the best defender with three runs saved to two for Gomes and minus-1 for Norris.
Designated hitter: The fans’ leader, the Orioles’ Nelson Cruz, is more than worthy with a 1.021 OPS and 2.5 WAR. He plays about half his time in the outfield. Among those who spend a majority of their time at DH, the best numbers belong to the Tigers’ Victor Martinez (.967 OPS, 1.7 WAR).