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The Real All-Stars: Using FUBAR to Determine National League All-Star Roster

Felipe Melecio looks at what the NL All-Star roster would be in an ideal world where players are rewarded for merit and substance and not for their popularity.

Dee Gordon
Dee Gordon

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Voting for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is quickly approaching (deadline is July 3, 2014). As mentioned recently, the All-Star game does not always feature the best players as fans usually vote for the most popular players, regardless if they’re having good seasons or not. In our overview of the American League roster, we see that Derek Jeter will, undeservingly, be the starting shortstop for the AL team. Jeter is having an awful season, but because of reasons that are mostly unrelated to baseball, Jeter will most likely tie up a roster spot, preventing a much better player from making the team.

That’s why we’re using Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to help us create a world where baseball players are rewarded for merit and substance and not for their popularity. FUBAR helps us evaluate players based on the following criteria:

  • hitting prowess
  • plate discipline
  • base running
  • defense

For a more detailed look at the methodology used in compiling these player rankings, please be sure to check out our overview of the AL All-Star Game roster. We now will compare the fans’ selections (as of June 23, 2014) versus what FUBAR thinks should be in the 2014 All-Star game. All stats are good through June 21, 2014.

Catchers

The Fans Vote

  1. Yadier Molina
  2. Jonathan Lucroy

FUBAR Says

  1. Jonathan Lucroy
  2. Carlos Ruiz

By far, the best, overall catcher in 2014 is not Molina, but Lucroy. Lucroy is miles ahead in all the criteria being used to evaluate players, including defense. And although Ruiz is not the defensive stalwart that Lucroy and Molina are, his hitting alone makes him a solid backup in the National League.

First Base

The Fans Vote

  1.  Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Adrian Gonzalez

FUBAR Says

  1. Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Anthony Rizzo

This is an easy one as the choices at first are pretty slim. Goldschmidt is an offensive juggernaut, is the best base runner at the position, and plays solid defense. Of course, the fans are voting for Gonzalez because he’s a known commodity, but Rizzo is a budding superstar that is not getting enough attention playing for the lowly Cubs. Before we know it, Rizzo could become the best first basemen in all of baseball.

Second Base

The Fans Vote

  1. Chase Utley
  2. Neil Walker

FUBAR Says

  1. Dee Gordon
  2. Daniel Murphy

In all fairness, Murphy edges out Utley in our rankings by the narrowest of margins so it’s not that far of a reach for Utley to be a part of the All-Star festivities. Utley is performing at a high level with the bat and the glove. Murphy, however, has shown to be a better base runner and have much better plate discipline than Utley. Meanwhile, Dee Gordon has had a breakout season of sorts. He’s getting on base enough to take full advantage of his speed on the base paths and becoming the best base runner at the position. Because of his above average speed, he gets the starting nod.

Shortstop

The Fans Vote

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Jean Segura

FUBAR Says

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Hanley Ramirez

There is no doubt, if Derek Jeter were playing in the NL, he would be the leading vote-getter at this position. It wouldn’t matter that Tulowitzki was destroying the ball this season. Thankfully, Jeter is not in the NL and the fans get an easy choice at the position. Segura actually placed third in FUBAR’s shortstop rankings. But it’s a distant third to Ramirez. Ramirez is the better hitter and has the better discipline, although Segura is outstanding on defense.

Third Base

The Fans Vote

  1. Aramis Ramirez
  2. David Wright

FUBAR Says

  1. Todd Frazier
  2. Anthony Rendon

NEWS FLASH: David Wright is one of the most overrated players in baseball. Of the 21 players ranked for this position, Wright is not even ranked. That means his name did not appear in the top 10 in any category. He has a total of zero points in our rankings. Even Mike Moustakas earned points for defense. But once again, because he’s a known commodity, the fans just listlessly throw their vote away at another undeserving player from New York. Ramirez, due to injury, did not play enough to qualify in any category, but since the Milwaukee Brewers are doing well, Ramirez is the beneficiary from team success.

Though Frazier’s plate discipline is suspect, there’s no doubt that he can rake, leading all third basemen in wOBA. He’s also a really good base runner and a good defender. It adds up to Frazier being the best player at the hot corner, regardless of league. The race for the second spot is awfully tight, however. Matt Carpenter is only five points away from being on this list. The Cubs’ Luis Valbuena, a very underrated player, is actually tied with Rendon for that second spot, but Rendon gets the nod because of his glove work and base running.

Left Field

The Fans Vote

  1. Michael Morse
  2. Justin Upton

FUBAR Says

  1. Seth Smith
  2. Starling Marte

We are aware that the All-Star game just selects the best three outfielders, regardless of actual outfield position, but for the purposes of defense, and having high standards, we split the outfield position into three parts. Admittedly, left field has been a weak position, as can be seen from Morse leading in votes at this position (eight overall among outfielders). Morse is having a good year, in terms of power, but that’s his only attribute. He’s not an all-around player. Surprisingly, despite possessing the talent and skill, Upton is ranked as the 19th best left fielder, out of 20 players ranked, just barely beating out Alejandro De Aza for the penultimate spot.

Seth Smith gets the nod because he ranks second in wOBA and has the best plate discipline among all left fielders. Marte is the fourth best left fielder because he’s the best base runner and an elite defender.

Center Field

The Fans Vote

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Carlos Gomez

FUBAR Says

  1. Billy Hamilton
  2. Andrew McCutchen

Out of the 20 center fielders that received points, Carlos Gomez ranks 10th. Solid, but not good enough to make the All-Star team though he has the third best wOBA among all center fielders and has a solid glove that gets overblown by his disproportionate appearances in highlight shows.

McCutchen is a great choice at this spot. He can hit, run, and has wonderful plate discipline. Can’t really blame the fans for voting him in as a starter. But Billy Hamilton is the biggest surprise here because of his blazing speed on the base paths and in the outfield. He absolutely dominates the defensive metrics here, especially at a very important defensive position in baseball.

Right Field

The Fans Vote

  1. Yasiel Puig
  2. Giancarlo Stanton

FUBAR Says

  1. Jason Heyward
  2. Hunter Pence

Funny how the baseball world was angry at Puig for fist-pumping his way around the bases last year. Now they’re voting him into the All-Star game. Meanwhile, Stanton is a really good choice because of his hitting prowess and his defensive presence. The National League is loaded with good right fielders this season so it was easy-pickings for fans this year. Even Charlie Blackmon can make a case for All-Star consideration as he rates ahead of Puig in our rankings.

But only 10 points ahead of Stanton, Pence gets the nod because he’s a much better base runner. And as mentioned all season long, Heyward is part of a Braves’ team that has impressed with their defense in 2014. He is the best defensive right fielder in the game right now. He also is a good base runner and has enough plate discipline to give him the edge over Pence and Stanton.

There you have it, your true National League All-Star Game roster for the 2014 season. Here’s hoping that actual, deserving players make the final cut.

All stats courtesy of fangraphs.com.

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