Six members of the Detroit Tigers will be going to this year's All-Star game. Some of them are no-brainers while others leave a person to wonder.
Obviously, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who is currently 13-0, should be at the head of the list. As should 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera. After winning the triple crown last year, Cabrera is tearing it up again in 2013. Last time I looked, Cabrera was leading the American League in batting average by a wide margin, and wasn't far behind in the home run and RBI departments.
Justin Verlander is going. As a reigning Cy Young winner, JV was always going to attrract attention. And Verlander's been good this year. He's hardly his former unhittable self having posted a 9-5 record, but that's not too shabby.
Prince Fielder is having a good year so far, but whether it qualifies as All-Star caliber is certainly debatable.
Aging Torii Hunter will be on the roster as well. So far, Hunter has seemed to defy Father Time. He's hitting close to .300, still has good range in the outfield to "go and get em", and it certainly appears his throwing arm is as strong and accurate as ever. In years past, All-Star voting has basically been a popularity contest based on a player's former contributions to the game -- and/or his public image. Yet despite being an all-around nice guy, is Hunter truly amongst the top current 5-6 outfielders in the American League? I dare say a lot of people would take issue with that.
The puzzler would seem to be shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Yes, after a miserable 2012 showing, he's rebounded to have a very good year so far in 2013. At last look, he was hitting over .300, had seven homers, and 40 RBIs, while committing only 4 errors in the field over the first half of the season. That's pretty impressive for a shortstop.
So how come I still get this nagging feeling that Peralta being in the All-Star game doesn't feel right?
Yeah, ever lovable Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland will be running the dugout of the American League All-Stars, and the Marlboro Man can pretty much do whatever he wants with the players at his disposal. Might favoritism come into play? Nah. Not Jimbo. Perish the thought.
Still, it seems like there ought to be a better option than Peralta. Is it too late to drag Alan Trammell out of retirement? How about Luis Aparicio? Bet the fans would get behind a 79-year-old former household name patrolling the #6 spot on defense for a few innings. Don't think he'd steal many bases like he used to, though.
Ah well. It will probably boil down to Leyland changing a lot of pitchers and using his "bullpen" wisely.
Translation? Advantage National League.