Archive for July 4th, 2011

Despite garnering six All Star selections, three Yankees were conspicuous by their absence from the team. Both Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia currently rank among the top three players at their respective positions, according to fangraph’s WAR, while David Robertson sits atop all American League relievers in the category. If either or all three had been named to the team, it would have been justifiable.

If the Yankees had ended up with nine All Stars, it would have come within one of the franchise record, which was set in 1939 when 10 Bronx Bombers were selected. In that year’s game, the Yankees also fielded six starters, another franchise high.  Even with six participants, the 2011 team ranks among the top quartile in terms of the number of players selected to the midseason classic.

Yankees’ All Star Selections by Year (click to enlarge)
Source: Baseball-reference.com

Although some Yankees fans might not be happy with six All Stars, especially after the team had eight in 2010, others might argue the team is lucky to have that many.  In the mainstream media and among the more casual fan base, Russell Martin’s selection as a backup catcher is most likely to be called into question. However, Martin does rank third in WAR among A.L. catchers, so if three spots are allocated to the position, the Yankees’ backstop is certainly deserving.

Derek Jeter’s election as the starting short stop for the American League has been discredited by the sabermetric crowd. The future Hall of Famer’s struggles have been well documented, so his selection can’t be justified by first half statistics. However, nowhere in the voting bylaws does it mandate that criteria be used as a basis for inclusion. Since the game’s inception, legendary figures well past their prime have frequently been elected, so Jeter’s inclusion is well within precedent. It is, after all, a contest for all stars, and the Yankees’ short stop qualifies as one of the brightest in the game.

Robinson Cano is another Yankees’ All Star that could be disputed. Although Cano’s WAR of 2.6 is nothing to look down upon, he currently ranks fifth among A.L. second basemen. Like Jeter, however, albeit to a much lesser degree, Cano has established himself a bona fide star, so the combination of his current season statistics and impressive track record suggest that, if not a worthy starter, the Yankees’ second baseman is a deserving reserve.

Most Frequent Yankees’ All Star Starters, By Position

Po. Player #
C Yogi Berra 11
1B Lou Gehrig 5
2B Willie Randolph 4
3B Alex Rodriguez 6
SS Derek Jeter 8
LF Several  1
CF Mickey Mantle 12
RF Dave Winfield 5
P Lefty Gomez 5

Source: Baseball-reference.com

All things considered, there probably should be six Yankees jogging out to the foul line at Chase Field next Tuesday. However, some might argue for a different combination. That debate is part of the charm of All Star Game. Although the midseason exhibition has been met with increased cynicism over the years, the number of ballots cast and the volume of discussion about the selections suggest that the event is not only still relevant, but one of the highlights of the baseball season.

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