Less than two weeks before the All-Star Game rosters are announced on July 3. Going by the latest voting numbers it looks like, for yet another year, no D-backs will be elected to the startling eight position players for the National League. We will almost certainly therefore be relying on the player voting (16 spots), managerial selection (nine players) or the "last man" voting to get our designated player - or maybe more than one - onto the 34 man roster. But who will be chosen?
Fill in the poll below to make your selections. After the jump, there's more discussion of who might be representing the Diamondbacks on home turf. I'll close the voting on this one at the end of June, and announce the results a week on Friday.
First of all, here are the Wins Above Replacement player (WAR) values for our ten best players, as calculated both by baseball-reference.com (bWAR) and fangraphs.com (fWAR). They use somewhat different methods, and have different idea of what constitutes "replacement level," hence they do come out with numbers that are slightly (or further!) apart. To get some consensus, the third column adds the two values together to come up with a combined top ten of the most valuable Diamondbacks to date.
|bWAR||fWAR||bWAR + fWAR|
|#1||Ian Kennedy, 2.9||Justin Upton, 3.2||Justin Upton, 5.3
|#2||Ryan Roberts, 2.1||Daniel Hudson, 2.9||Ian Kennedy, 4.9
|#3||Justin Upton 2.1||Miguel Montero, 2.3||Daniel Hudson, 4.5
|#4||Miguel Montero, 2.0||Chris Young, 2.2||Miguel Montero, 4.3
|#5||Chris Young, 1.8||Ryan Roberts, 2.2||Ryan Roberts, 4.3
|#6||Stephen Drew, 1.6||Stephen Drew, 2.1||Chris Young, 4.0
|#7||Josh Collmenter, 1.6||Ian Kennedy, 2.0||Stephen Drew, 3.7
|#8||Daniel Hudson, 1.6||Gerardo Parra, 1.8||Gerardo Parra, 3.2
|#9||Gerardo Parra, 1.4||Kelly Johnson, 1.1||Josh Collmenter, 2.5
|#10||J.J. Putz 1.0||J.J. Putz, 0.9||J.J. Putz, 1.9
I think those ten names cover the credible candidates for spots. We can divide them into three groups.
Fringe candidates: Josh Collmenter, Gerardo Parra, Ryan Roberts and Chris Young.
There's various reasons why these, realistically, are long-shots to make it. Collmenter hasn't made enough starts; Parra's value is largely in his defense, which will never get you much All-Star consideration; Roberts is a 30-year old with less than 170 career appearances coming in to this season; and Young is barely hitting .250. They all probably deserve a better fate than they will actually get, where they will be lucky to receive a mention on the selection program.
That's true for Roberts in particular, who (as noted elsewhere) leads the NL at 3B in both bWAR and fWAR. It is partly the Diamondbacks' fault, who went with Melvin Mora as the team's representative at third-base, reducing Roberts to the level of a write-in candidate. As a result, Roberts is somewhere in the mists behind Scott Rolen in the voting, even through Rolen has appeared in only 44 games and has three HR. It would be totally awesome to see our tattooed infielder at Chase, but sadly, it would have to count as a major surprise were this to happen.
Possible candidates: Daniel Hudson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero
fWAR loves Hudson, giving him a FIP of 2.72, but the ERA is sitting on the wrong side of 3.50. A 7-2 record isn't bad, but one sense he might need to reach double-digits to have a chance, which would likely require him to win out the rest of the way. Drew continues to do what he does best, going under the radar with the approximate profile of a Stealth fighter arriving late for class. Since the start of 2010, only Troy Tulowitzki has produced more fWAR; only Troy-boy and Jose Reyes if you look at fWAR. He'll likely be overlooked again this year.
At catcher, it'd be hard to argue with catcher Brian McCann as the starter, but Montero is largely indistinguishable from him. The rampant homerism in the voting there (Jonathan Lucroy is fourth? Really?) is particularly sad. One thought: could politics play a role here? Wouldn't having a Hispanic player representing Arizona be a great middle-finger from baseball to the anti-SB1070 crowd? I think the ideal scenario there might be Adrian Gonzalez refusing the spot, and Montero taking his place - though last I heard, AGon seems rather less certain [11:30 mark] about boycotting Arizona, if as seems likely, he's voted in as the AL's starting 1B.
Top candidates: Ian Kennedy, J.J. Putz and Justin Upton
This is where we reach the real meat. My personal prediction is that it will be Kennedy and Upton who represent the Diamondbacks; anything beyond that will be gravy. With regard to pitching, last year there were seven starters and nine relievers on the roster. Kennedy is currently one of the ten NL qualifying starters with a sub-3.00 ERA, though Tommy Hanson is on the DL with shoulder problems, so I suspect won't be named. Jair Jurrjens and his 2.11 ERA leads the way, though Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels could also get the starting nod. There's a few ratting around the three ERA mark, so up to Kennedy to sustain his current numbers.
Conveniently, there are nine closers in the National League with between 18 and 20 saves at time of writing, so Bruce Bochy could simply fill up the roster with those relievers. Joel Hanrahan (18 Sv, 1.39 ERA) and Brian Wilson (who cares about the stats, his manager is running the team) appear the closest to locks, but the remaining spots could go to almost any of the other seven or outside them e.g. Drew Storen from the Nationals, or even a non-closer like Johnny Venters of the Braves (0.60 ERA, 2.7 bWAR, 1.6 fWAR). Putz has the best ERA of those other closers, but Craig Kimbrel and John Axford have the gaudy strikeout numbers.
Justin Upton is insanely hot right now, and I would be delighted to see him make his second All-Star Game. He has, for my money, been the Diamondbacks' Most Valuable Player to this point, and is currently on pace for career highs in BA, OBP and OPS, making his critics look even dumber than usual. Not bad for a player in his first year earning over a million, and that long-term contract keeping him under our control through 2015 is looking like it might be Josh Byrnes' greatest legacies to the team. And, let's face, who wouldn't want to see the man behind four of the 15 longest home-runs in the NL this year, taking part in the home-run derby?