Well, he did it. Generally absent from the All Star conversation--almost entirely because of a unremarkable .256 batting average, Curtis Granderson was voted to the All Star game by a group of his peers. For as much crap as the fan voting gets, (much of it deserved), I'm not sure that enough credit is given to the player voting. For Granderson to make the All Star game in this fashion tells us that things like Defense actually are taken into consideration. Or that the ability to change a game, via speed, or power or what have you, go further than just the stat line.
For that, congratulations to Curtis Granderson, on his first of what we all hope will be many All Star selections. For those of you who may gripe about the selection, the only candidate I can see with a real beef is Nelson Cruz, who's 20 HR, 13 SB and high-quality defense should have given him a nod as well. However, Josh Hamilton, also of the Rangers made it in, despite not deserving it in any way, shape or form. My guess is that he declines the invitation, due to injury, and Cruz is added to the roster as his replacement. That would be fitting and just.
Onto other All-Star musings: Miguel Cabrera just misses out again. Here's a guy was an All Star in 4 of his first 5 professional seasons, but hasn't been included in his first two years in Detroit. Last year, he led the American League in Home Runs and was in the Top 3 for RBIs behind Hamilton and Arod. Nope, not an All Star. This year, he is tied with Justin Morneau (who deservingly did make the team) for the lead among first basemen in Batting Average (.323). His 16 HR and 47 RBI are greater than and equal to (respectively) those same stats for '09 All Star Kevin Youkilis. He has struck out fewer times than any of the three All-Star first basemen. Now, I'm not saying that the three selected players are not deserving, because it is a tough call. However, Miguel Cabrera seems to me to be the most complete first baseman of the bunch, and I have a hard time finding a reason to keep him out of the game.
Which leads me to a final point: The "Final Vote" competition for the last roster spot.
There are five candidates for this position, one of whom is Brandon Inge of the Tigers. Let's take a look at the group with some brief analysis:
Brandon Inge: Leads all AL 3rd basemen in Home Runs (19), Second (behind Evan Longoria) among AL 3rd basemen in RBIs (54), Arguably the best defensive 3rd baseman in the league, 2nd among AL 3rd basemen in Runs Scored.
Now, Inge is also the victim of a poor batting average (.269), but he is OPSing .874, behind only Arod and Longoria in the American League! And look at him play defense! If there is one player who should feel cheated, it is Inge, who lost out to the defensively inept Michael Young, in his first year as a 3rd baseman.
Although, Ranger teammate Ian Kinsler also has a legitimate claim to the All Star team. He was cheated out of a spot by Dustin Pedroia, who coasted in on the tails of Red Sox nation to a starting spot. Kinsler deserves to be an All Star, I don't know how anybody can argue with that either.
As for the other three:
Carlos Pena: has 23 HR and 55 RBIs--and a .233 batting average. He was nominated because the AL Manager is Rays manager Joe Maddon. He does not deserve it more than Miguel Cabrera. Next.
Adam Lind is having a breakout year with 18 HR, 57 RBI and a .310 average. In a normal year, that is All Star caliber. Oh, but he doesn't play defense and this is a national league All Star game with no DH. Next.
Chone Figgens. I've got no beef with Chone. He's got 24 SBs and a .312 average, but almost no power and doesn't have the same leather that Inge posesses. If he were tearing up the league in Stolen Bases then he'd get my consideration, but that's Carl Crawford and he's already on the team.
So, to me at least, both Brandon Inge and Ian Kinsler have legitimate claims to the Final All Star Slot. I will not be particularly upset if either of those two make the squad. However, I will say that there are already three second basemen on the roster (when you include Ben Zobrist of the Rays) to only two 3rd basemen, and considering this game "counts," who else would you want as a defensive replacement late in the game than Mr. Inge down at the hot corner.
Vote Inge. You won't be sorry.