Look Me Over Closely

I’ve got another Baseball Prospectus/ESPN Insider twin killing today, this time devoted to players who might be left off the two leagues’ All-Star teams.

By midnight tonight, the All-Star balloting will have ended, and on Sunday the starting lineups will be announced. Inevitably, deserving players will be left out in the cold (even after managers Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel have stocked their benches and bullpens), whether they be unheralded veterans amid career years, youngsters whose stars haven’t fully risen, or players nudged aside to ensure that every team is represented. What follows is a mixed-league lineup of players who might not get that trip to St. Louis, though they should. Space considerations prevent me from showing the entirety of my mental math for both leagues at each position, so I’ve spotlighted what I felt was the more interesting decision of the two.

…Outfield: Adam Dunn, Nationals; Adam Jones, Orioles; Matt Kemp, Dodgers
In the NL, Raul IbaƱez, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Beltran lead the voting. With the latter out of commission due to injury, Mike Cameron or Shane Victorino (who rank fifth and sixth in the voting) are likely to replace him as starter, but Kemp is even more deserving. He’s hitting .302/.363/.474 with the second-best EqA (.302) among NL starting center fielders. The fact that Joe Torre has mainly hit him sixth, seventh, or eighth in the lineup suggests that his accomplishments, which include outstanding defense (+12 FRAA, +11.5 UZR), could be overlooked; he’s just 13th in the voting. Also likely to be overlooked is Dunn, who’s batting .260/.396/.528 while ranking second in walks and fifth with 20 homers. A polarizing figure, he hasn’t been invited to the midsummer party since 2002, but only Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have bashed more homers since then. From the AL ranks, I’ll channel Joe Sheehan and put in a plug for 23-year-old Adam Jones, who has tacked superb defense onto his .305/.359/.509 performance while ensuring that the name “Bavasi” will be cursed in Seattle for years to come.

Starting Pitcher: Edwin Jackson, Tigers
Figuring out who’s in or out on the All-Star pitching staffs is a trickier game than it is for the hitters due to starters’ schedules and teams’ understandable reluctance to part with their aces. Rather than pull my hair out overthinking this, I’ll simply stump for a less-obvious choice: Jackson, who’s finally living up to the promise shown when he beat Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday. He’s second in the league with a 2.49 ERA, fifth in SNLVAR (ahead of his more heralded teammate, Justin Verlander), and ninth in strikeouts.

Yeah, as a Dodgers fan, that Jackson one still stings.

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