I don't mean to write the exact same thing as my Detroit News colleague Tony Paul. But in previewing today's All-Star Game roster announcement it's hard to disagree with anything he said.
Today, sometime after 1 p.m. EDT on TBS, we will learn that Prince Fielder is an All-Star. The last we were told, he was in comfortable position to start the All-Star Game. It seems a little strange that Fielder would so easily win the honor. I'm going to credit some sort of Wisconsin-Michigan teamwork or something.
Miguel Cabrera probably wont start the game, but the third baseman should be named to his seventh ASG and third in three years. He is top 11 in the AL in pretty much every offensive category but steals. He leads third basemen in average, on-base percentage, slugging, home runs, RBI, you name it.
Undoubtedly, reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Justin Verlander will be named to the team. Some have questioned whether or not he'll win starting honors. Based on last year's laurels, Verlander would seem a great selection. He may not have the most wins (wins! meh!) or lowest ERA (he's fourth on the AL leaderboard at 2.69) but you acknowledge the ASG is partially about the pas and partially about the present, he's the perfect selection for starter.
Maybe the Tigers only have three All-Stars. Maybe they have more. Certainly arguments could be made for more.
Tony Paul made a great argument for Austin Jackson, writing:
Though, from the numbers, you'd never remember he was out. His .413 on-base percentage is first among all major league leadoff men; his .327 average, .534 slugging percentage and 30 walks are second; his 31 RBIs and 16 doubles are third; his seven homers are fourth; and, most amazingly, his 49 strikeouts only are fourth.
In leading off a game, Jackson is batting .375 with a .434 on-base percentage; in leading off an inning, he's at .356/.426.
He's also stealing bases at an 87.5-percent clip (7-for-8), and he continues to play his typical top-shelf defense.
There could be another thing holding Jackson back, of course. His career hasn't warranted it.
That's part of the age-old All-Star Game debate. Should the game be a reward for three months of baseball, or a gathering of the top established stars and top rookies? You can take that further and ask if the stars even need to be established ... or just hyped.
It seems to me All-Star rosters have always been a mixture of the two, making it hard to project which players will be selected to fill out the roster and leaving plenty of room for teams and players to cry "snubbed!" There are always pleasant surprises, and always players you can argue don't really have the stats to justify being there. Especially when the game "counts."
Jackson should probably be on the team. He's got great stats this year, and his defense never takes a game off. Plus this isn't the first year he's putting up nice numbers on offense. But I don't know that he will, don't know if he's got the recognition. We shall see.
Relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit appears to be the final Tiger with a chance to make the roster. (Good thing voting occurred before last night!) He has a 2.25 ERA and is striking out a career-best 11.5 batters per nine innings. Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been arguing for his place on the roster.
News beat writer Tom Gage quotes and notes:
Short of saying he campaigned for them, it's safe to say Leyland endorsed both.
"I offered my opinion," he said. "But I didn't browbeat him. I just mentioned it."
So, we'll see. As Leyland says elsewhere in the article, Jackson and Benoit probably deserve to be All Stars but he doesn't know if they will be.
Check back after 1 (we'll post a thread at 12:45) to follow the "drama" as it unfolds.