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All-Star Insider: One AL ballot

  • June 21, 2014 - 6:58 PM

TARGET FIELD

Tues., July 15 • 7 p.m.

After Sunday, only four Twins home games remain in which you can cast a ballot in person for this year’s All-Star teams (though you can vote on mlb.com though July 3). But who should get your vote? We made NL suggestions two weeks ago. This week here’s our ballot for the AL starters:

1B: It’s tempting to take Jose Abreu, whose 21 home runs and clubhouse presence are invaluable to the White Sox. But that would be just a contrarian pick, because Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, while slightly less dominant than during his two MVP seasons, is still the league’s most feared hitter.

2B: Robinson Cano has the reputation and Brian Dozier is a hometown favorite. But Houston’s Jose Altuve, though only 5-6, has turned into a textbook leadoff hitter. He leads the league in hits and stolen bases.

SS: No arguing with Derek Jeter, if the aim is to let his fans see him start one final All-Star Game. If it’s about rewarding this year’s best shortstop, though, the question is a lot more complicated. The Angels’ Erick Aybar gets this vote, but it’s a close call over Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez and the Twins’ Eduardo Escobar.

3B: Oakland’s Josh Donaldson is the only AL player, according to baseball’s advanced metrics, who comes close to Mike Trout’s all-around excellence. He’s probably the best-fielding third baseman in baseball, and he’s fourth in home runs.

OF: An on-base percentage over .400, a league-high slugging percentage above .600 — Trout is only 22 and is already the best AL player. He’s on his way to becoming the best overall hitter, too.

OF: Toronto’s Jose Bautista hits the ball harder, scouts say, than anyone. Most advanced statistics show him to be close to Trout’s level in powering an offense, too.

OF: The third outfield spot may be the toughest call because Alex Gordon deserves a spot for his all-around brilliance in leading the Royals into first place, and Cleveland’s Michael Brantley is top 10 in slugging and a great fielder besides. But Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz has an AL-best 22 homers, 58 RBI and 159 total bases.

C: With apologies to the Royals’ Salvador Perez, Derek Norris receives high praise for his handling of Oakland’s pitching staff. He’s hitting above .300, too.

DH: Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion had one of the hottest six-week stretches of hitting anyone has had in the past five years, and he leads the AL in extra-base hits.

© 2014 Star Tribune