Official Sports Take All Star Ballot(s) & Peek at the Picks

Hello again everybody...

Happy Hump-Day to you all. Hope you're looking forward to the long holiday weekend as much as I am. I need the break after my vehicle decided to up and die on me last night! Fun!

Today I'll present to you the official 2008 Sports Take All-Star Ballot. I should've done this earlier since voting ends at midnight tonight, but better late than never! And then I'll bring you this week's Peek at the Picks segment.

"It's (being selected to an All-Star Team) right up there with lobster."

- Gary Gaetti (1958- ), former major league 3rd baseman.

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So I placed my 25 votes online yesterday at for the 2008 All-Star Game. Each year I do one "homer" ballot and then fill the rest of my 25 votes with the players I think are most deserving. This year I developed a system for determining who those players are. I ranked the top 5 players at each position (except the outfielders, where, since you have to pick 3, I ranked the top 10) by batting average, home runs and RBI. Then added up each of their 3 rankings. The player with the lowest total score (1 being the best possible score) got my pick.

So without further ado, here are my picks:


1B: Kevin Youklis - Boston Red Sox (whom I hate)
This was by far the toughest pick I had to make. Youklis and Twins 1B Justin Morneau were neck and neck in the scoring system, but Youklis ended up ahead by a point. And to maintain the integrity of the system, I swallowed my pride and made the vote. For your information, my pride tastes very bitter.

2B: Ian Kinsler - Texas Rangers
Not really a suprise here. Kinsler has been playing at a high level since he entered the league just a few years ago. He ended up 7 points ahead of his nearest competitor in the ST scoring system. He'll make a fine trading chip when Rangers management decides to start their next fire sale.

SS: Michael Young - Texas Rangers
Young's the other half of Texas' formidable middle-infield. Young was also far and away the winner at his position, 6 points ahead of his nearest competitor. You can pretty much cut and paste everything I said about Kinsler for Young as well.

3B: Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
His alleged "Madonna-daliance" aside, A-Rods had a pretty stellar first half. He's hitting .322, with 16 home runs and 44 RBI. None too shabby. Added to his popularity (insert punchline here), I'd be shocked if he's not your starting 3rd baseman.

C: Joe Mauer - Minnesota Twins
Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays scored a close second to Mauer, but Mauer's .323 average and 34 RBI were enough to put him over the top. "Baby Jesus" should be your starter at catcher come July 15th.

OF: Josh Hamilton - Texas Rangers, Milton Bradley - Texas Rangers, Jermaine Dye - Chicago White Sox
Wow, you'd suddenly think I was a huge Rangers fan! But remember, this is an objective scoring system. It pained me to vote for Bradley since I think the guy is half a psycho, nut-job. But the only guy with a better score than him was Hamilton. Again, I decided to err on the side of the integrity of the system. Interestingly enough, Dye is the only player on my AL ballot who plays for a 1st place team. What does that say about the division leaders? Perhaps they're vulnerable.

DH: Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles
The O's had a nice start to the year, but have come back to earth rather roughly. But Huff's having a solid year and scored best for DH's. A full 4 points ahead of Big Papi. How's that wrist David? What a shame.


1B: Lance Berkman - Houston Astros
Lost in Chipper Jones' quest for .400 has been the incredible start for Berkman. Houston made some noise in May, but has since slipped back. Still Berkman was one of only two players to have a perfect score via the ST Scoring System. So voting for him is a complete no-brainer.

2B: Chase Utley - Philadelphia Phillies
Conveniently enough, Utley was the other player with a perfect ST score. Utley was touted as a potential MVP candidate in the pre-season, and his first half numbers have done nothing to dispel that notion. Yet another no-brainer of a vote here.

SS: Hanley Ramirez - Florida Marlins
Not a perfect score, but he leads players at his position in home runs and is second in RBI. Not too shabby. Still he finished only a point ahead of Houston's Miguel Tejada. Even with that though, Ramirez should be your starter. Questions about Tejada's inclusion in the Mitchell report should keep him from getting the starting nod. I hope.

3B: David Wright - New York Mets
This pick was difficult on several levels. First of all, Atlanta's Chipper Jones had the highest score. But I heard he was on the disabled list and assumed that meant he wouldn't be available to participate in All-Star festivities. But after I voted, it turns out he started last night, so now who knows? Maybe he will be available. But the best information I had at the time said he wouldn't be, so I moved on to the second place player. Make that "players" since Wright and Arizona 3rd basebman Mark Reynolds were tied for second. As a tie-breaker I went to their defensive stats. Wright has a .942 fielding percentage. Reynolds is at .922. So Wright got the vote.

C: Bengie Molina - San Francisco Giants
This pick was also fairly complex. Molina and Brian McCann of the Braves tied for first place. So again, I went to the defensive stats: Molina has a .994 fielding percentage. McCann has a .994 fielding percentage. Woops. That's not gonna work. So then I went to their Caught Stealing Percentage. Molina has thrown out 31% of the runners who've attempted to steal on him. McCann has thrown out 27%. Not a huge difference, but it's enough to tip the scales in Molina's favor.

OF: Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers, Carlos Lee - Houston Astros, Ryan Ludwick - St. Louis Cardinals
Braun and Lee were far ahead of the rest of the NL Outfielders. Ludwick was the best of a group of about 5 players including Pat Burrell of the Phillies, Adam Dunn of the Reds, Xavier Nady of the Pirates and Matt Holliday of the Rockies. Braun and Lee most of you are familiar with. But if you're like me, you have little to no knowledge of Ludwick. He's one of a group of little-known players that have helped the Cardinals hang in the NL Central race. And his .285 average, 16 home runs and 56 RBI get him one of my three NL All-Star Outfielder votes.

So there's my ballot. Like I said, I submitted that one 24 times and then for my 25th ballot, I submitted one replete with Minnesota Twins in the AL and Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL. Since they give me 25 chances, 1 "homer ballot" can't hurt can it?

Finally for today, it's this week's Peek at the Picks segment, where I compare the current MLB standings to my pre-season picks. Let the mockery begin!

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays, 51-32 (Dan's Pick: Boston Red Sox (whom I hate), 2.5 games behind)
Brace yourselves. The Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball. You could've won a whole mess of money if you'd bet me that I'd be typing that at some point this year. But there it is. A combination of quality young pitching and timely offense have propelled Tampa into a legitimate contender. For how long? That's debateable. But tonight they have the opportunity to sweep the Red Sox (whom I hate). So for tonight at least, I'm a believer!

AL Central: Chicago White Sox, 48-35 (DP: Detroit Tigers, 6 GB)
Suddenly everybody in the Central is hot. The Sox have won 7 of their last 10. The Twins and Tigers are winners in 8 of their last 10. And even the Royals have gotten into the act, also winning 7 of their last 10. Obviously interleague play was a big part of this. And with four of the five teams squaring off against divisional opponents now, those numbers will change quickly. I still say the Tigers aren't out of it, but they're going to have to play better than they did against the Twins this week in order to fufill their promise.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels, 50-34 (DP: Seattle Mariners, 17.5 GB)
Torii Hunter Watch: .272, 9 HR, 37 RBI
How long has Torii been stuck on 9 home runs? Seems like almost a month. At this point, I'd be surprised if Torii's headed to New York for the All-Star game. Not the kind of season I'd predicted. Though based on my pick for this division, that can't really be a surprise!

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies, 45-39 (DP: New York Mets, 3.5 GB)
The managerial change has officially failed to spark the Mets. But even with that, they're hanging around. Philly had a shot at putting some distance between them and the Marlins/Mets, but has failed to do so. This division is a far cry from being decided. I'm not out of this yet!

NL Central: Chicago Cubs, 50-34 (DP: Cubs)
Look. Crew fans. You dumped Julian Tavarez's sorry ass. Can't you just admit the mistake and do the same with Gagne? How long has he been "hurt" for now? Come on. You can do it! The race here has tightened considerably. St. Louis is only 2.5 back and Milwaukee's closed to 4.5 back. I'm glad to still have at least one pick still be correct at this point. But I'm not feeling comfortable at all. Not at all.

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks, 42-42 (DP: D'backs)
Are you serious?! A .500 record leads a freaking division? How sorry is that?! Shame on you "rest of the NL West"! And don't get cocky Arizona! You're not looking too good either! The D'backs and the Brewers have split the first 2 games of their 4-game set. Game 3 is tonight. Seth McClung vs. Micah Owings. Strap in Crew fans. I like the D'backs chances!

That's all for today folks. There's a slight chance I'll have something for you on Friday. But it's far more likely that I'll be out enjoying the holiday weekend. Hope you can do the same!

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