In the comments section of John’s entry yesterday, there was a good deal of discussion surrounding “Sweet” Lew Ford (who has been the official player of this blog for a month and a half) and his candidacy for All-Star consideration. Also, Jimmy Souhan over at the Strib wrote a related piece today. This got me thinking. Even though it is only June 9th, All-Star balloting has been going for at least three weeks already and it is never too early to start thinking about such things. It doesn’t look like the Twins will have a player voted into the starting lineup (no surprise there), so we’ve got to start speculating about subs. Who should be the Twins All-Star representative(s)? Do the Twins even deserve more than one? First of all, let’s take a quick look at the possible candidates:
1-0, 18 hits allowed in 25.2 IP, 1.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.22 K/9 IP, 15 saves in 16 chances
Even if Nathan doesn’t continue his recent dominance (Sunday’s near-disaster notwithstanding) and is only respectable, he’s an almost sure-fire lock to make the team as a reliever. Joe Torre always likes to carry plenty of closers and middle relievers on his All-Star teams, and Nathan is one of the top three or four closers in the AL right now. Obviously Torre will take Mariano Rivera, and Francisco Cordero (Texas) and Keith Foulke are strong candidates as well. Outlook: Barring an unforeseen collapse, Joe Nathan will almost certainly be representing the Twins in Houston come July.
4-3, 3.36 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, MLB-demolishing 0.87 BB/9 IP (8 walks in 83 innings)
This is one case that has really REALLY got me steamed. Brad Radke has been absolutely outstanding this season; he has been a model of consistency over the past month and a half. If Radke gets even average run support over that span, he could easily have eight or nine wins right now. He should most definitely have AT LEAST seven. If the Twins offense hasn’t decided to go on vacation during the month of May (and now June), Brad could have possibly cruised into July with 10 wins and a low 3.00s ERA, more than enough to gain a spot on the squad. As it stand right now, the ninth-best ERA in the AL has only garnered Radke a measly four wins and little/no buzz about an All-Star appearance. Outlook: Unless the Twins start scoring more than 0-2 runs when Radke pitches, he’ll simply be another player left “on the bubble.”
.326 AVG, .404 OBP, .917 OPS, 7 HRs and 31 RBIs
I want to first off give this little disclaimer: I am a HUGE Lew Ford fan. In fact, I took the liberty of naming him the Official Player of Twins Chatter before he even reached his full sweetness. But Lew, as much as I love him, is not an All-Star. John and Mimiru did a good job of explaining just why yesterday, but it simply comes down to the fact that outfield is an extremely difficult All-Star position to crack. Manny and Vlad are locks, and Sheffield or Damon may (undeservingly) be the third OF starter, which would only further diminish Lew’s already-slim chances. In a perfect world, Ford might be rewarded for his excellent first half with an All-Star bid, but unfortunately, the All-Star selection process is even more flawed than the rest of the world. Outlook: Unless Ford goes on another tear like he did in April, his chances of making the All-Star game don’t look good.
The Usual Suspects:
Few of the Twins “core” players, they guys you would expect to warrant All-Star consideration, are even in the running this year.
Hunter is actually 9th among AL outfielders in the voting right now, but he doesn’t deserve to be. Torii was a deserving starter in 2002, but injuries have limited him to just 8 HRs and 24 RBIs this season.
Corey is tied for the team in home runs with 10, but a batting average in the .250s isn’t going to cut it any year.
Before his horrendous 1 for 37 slump, JJ was actually a viable All-Star candidate. But obviously that's not the case anymore, as his splits are .255/.314/.447.
Dougie Baseball has struggled with the omnipresent injury bug, but when playing he’s been one of (if not the) worst offensive first basemen in the majors.
My picks: If the game was to be played tomorrow, I believe Joe Nathan would be the Twins’ lone representative. A 31-26 team doesn’t really deserve more than one or two, and the Twins have never been a superstar-laden bunch. But by July 13th, I think that Radke will finally have the record to back up his superb ERA and will sneak in as a starter. In baseball, things usually have a way of evening out and I'm counting on this to be the case with Brad. Joe Nathan and Brad Radke are my predictions, but I hope Lew comes on strong and makes Torre seriously consider him for a bench slot (although I would be surprised if that happens).
Any other predictions/analysis out there? Post a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for stopping by Twins Chatter again today; please drive home safely.