Red Sox

Baseball's real All-Star team

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

All-Star voting should adopt the slogan, Vote late, vote often. The folks at MLB would certainly object to that, but it would make for much better educated votes. Voting ends for the All-Star Game at 11:59 PM on Thursday, June 30. Which means that today, Monday, June 27 is the day to start your voting.

Let me start by saying I have very mixed feelings about the All-Star voting process and that is because I feel that too many people:

a) vote too early
b) vote based on prior seasons performances
c) vote for their favorite uniforms
d) all of the above

Yes, the correct answer is d.

Today I am introducing a stat that I created called ASV. It is unlike the sophisticated mathematical based statistical tools and equations that we use so frequently on the STATion and when discussing baseball in general. It is simply a mix of existing offensive and defensive stats.

Heres how it works: You may vote 25 times for your All-Stars and since I believe this isnt entirely a black and white exercise I assign weighted values to players by position. The total of the ASV must add up to 25 (representing my 25 ballots).

Its easy to understand once we get started, so lets begin behind the plate.

CATCHER - most recent voting totals:
Russell Martin, Yankees: 2,226,797
Alex Avila, Tigers: 1,730,511
Joe Mauer, Twins: 1,341,474
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox: 1,135,617
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers: 980,697

Russell Martin leads in voting because he got off to a great start (early voters) and wears a Yankee uniform, but he is not an All-Star. Joe Mauer has hardly played this season but gets props for his prior performance. He is not an All-Star this season either. Nation, I know Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .348 in June, but hes still hitting .250, thrown out 25 of prospective stealers and has improved enough not to be an automatic out, but hes no All-Star.

Alex Avila of the Tigers leads all catchers with a .303 batting average and has 10 homers, which ties him for second with J.P. Arencibia of Toronto, who is hitting .226, and trails Miguel Olivo, who has 12 homers and is hitting .227. I dont give any votes to anyone hitting under .250 for an All-Star Game. I am hard pressed to give a vote to an under a .270 hitter, but I can show flexibility, particularly behind the plate where hitting is often secondary.

Avila leads all catchers in average, RBI and has thrown out 39 of prospective base stealers (the league average is 29). He gets a 20 ASV from me.
Matt Wieters of the Orioles is hitting .262 but has 7 homers, 33 RBI and has thrown out 42 base stealers gets 3 All-Star Votes.
A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox and his .296 batting average but only 18 throwing out stealers, gets a 2 ASV.

FIRST BASE voting:
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 2,407,665
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 1,771,893
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 890,468
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 676,194

My first half MVP is Adrian Gonzalez, but there are a number of first basemen having monster seasons. I mention that because as much as I would like to give Gonzo a 25 ASV, I cant.

There are two other first sackers who are clearly having outstanding seasons: I must give some ASV love to Miguel Cabrera who is hitting .330 with 15 homers and 52 RBI. He has led his Tigers to first place and has All-Star numbers. Then there is Paul Konerko who has 21 homers, 60 RBI, and is hitting .324.

Even with 23 homers, Mark Teixeira does not get a vote from me and Mitch Moreland, hitting .286, gets shut out as well.

Adrian Gonzalez, in my mind, has done everything to put the Sox in first place including hitting .361, .394 with runners on base, and .400 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Gonzo gets 17 ASV
Miggy 4 ASV
Konerko 4 ASV

SECOND BASE voting
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 3,664,498
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 2,239,172
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 1,452,880
Orlando Cabrera, Indians: 910,941
Ben Zobrist, Rays: 828,771

At second base, I have a conflict. I love Dustin Pedroia. Pedey is my guy at second if I have to win one game, but its not easy giving him a high ASV this year.

Robinson Cano is hitting over .290, leads all second basemen with 14 homers and 48 RBI. However, when it comes to defense, as good as Cano is, Pedroia has an 8 Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average), the best in the AL. Cano is -1. Kinsler, Cabrera and Zobrist all have a 3. Pedroia is also recovering from his slow start hitting over .375 this month but his overall .797 OPS is third to Cano .841 and Zobrists .812.

Cano 20 ASV
Pedroia 5 ASV

SHORTSTOP - voting
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 2,654,040
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 2,242,157
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 1,513,929
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: 875,371
Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: 813,888

The three best hitting shortstops are J.J. Hardy of Baltimore (.31110 homers29 RBI), Peralta (.3011143), and Cabrera (.2901243). Andrus is hitting over .270 and has 22 stolen bases. Erick Aybar is hitting over .285 and has 15 stolen bases.

Alicides Escobar of the Royals is the best fielding shortstop with a 9 Rtot (and is hitting over .270), followed by Brendan Ryan of the Mariners with an 8 Rtot. Andrus has a 3 Rtot, Jeter -4, Cabrera and Lowrie -5. Scutaro is at 1.

In my most divided ballot, I give Andrus a 9 ASV.
Escobar 6 ASV.
Cabrera 5 ASV.
Peralta 4 ASV.
Hardy 1 ASV

THIRD BASE - voting
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 2,876,537
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 2,025,438
Evan Longoria, Rays: 1,639,405
Brandon Inge, Tigers: 490,734

Kevin Youkilis is another member of the Sox who started off slow (he hit .208 in April), but has boosted his average to .275. His 55 RBI reflect his .293 average with runners on base and his .359 RISPw 2 outs average shows how valuable he has been the season. In my mind, he is worthy of All-Star votes, just not enough to be a starter.

Dislike him or hate him, A-Rod is having another All-Star season. Hes hitting .300 with 13 homers and 51 RBI. For those of you who dont believe he hits in the clutch, you are half right: hes hitting .348 with runners in scoring position but .273 RISPw 2 outs.

The only other third sacker worthy of consideration is Adrian Beltre .2631456 and has a 9 Rtot making him the highest rated third baseman in the league. A-Rod is next at 8, Youk is only 1.

Alex Rodriguez gets 12 ASV
Kevin Youkilis gets 8 ASV

OUTFIELD - voting
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 4,156,940
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 3,473,227
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 2,400,408
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 2,249,323
Carl Crawford, Red Sox: 1,789,097
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 1,537,101
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 1,462,426
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 1,271,843
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 1,120,179
J.D. Drew, Red Sox: 1,112,720
Matt Joyce, Rays: 1,038,098
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 906,983
David Murphy, Rangers: 785,630
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: 764,817

We get to choose three outfielders and Jacoby Ellsbury is the only Red Sox worthy of consideration.

Let me start from the bottom by eliminating Choo, who was only hitting .244 before he went on the DL. David Murphy is hitting .236, so say good-bye to him and to Grady Sizemore hitting. 224. Jeff Francoeur is only hitting .257 and has a name I have trouble spelling. Matt Joyce is easy to spell and is hitting .308 with 10 homers and has a plus 3 Rtot, so we wont eliminate him yet. We will eliminate J.D. Drew, who would probably have some nagging injury that would make him All-Star day-to-day if he were not having such a miserable season any way. Brett Gardner is hitting .281 and fielding wise is the highest rated in the AL with a 19 Rtot, he has stolen 16 bases but has been caught 10 times. He stays eligible. Swish has a 12 Rtot, but his .245 BA eliminates him. And even though Nelson Cruz has 18 homers, hes hitting a non-All-Star .240, so he goes too. This season, Suzuki is hitting .273, but has 19 steals. That is countered by a Rtot of -11. Sayonara, Ichiro. While Carl Crawford has gotten some clutch hits, he has not gotten a lot of hits period. CC gets to rest the hammy. Adam Jones of the Orioles is having a really good season offensively, the only trouble is that with an Rtot of -15 the worst in the AL, his defense is pretty offensive as well.

Jacoby Ellsbury is really having a marvelous season, hitting over .300, stealing 26 bases, has an OPS of .827, and has a 7 Rtot. He is an All-Star and should be the ALs leadoff batter. Josh Hamilton has only appeared in 41 games and while he is hitting .293, the power hitter only has seven dingers and 35 RBI. Compare those numbers with the great Jose Bautista, who is having an even better season number-wise than Adrian Gonzalez, (but still not more valuable). Bautista is fourth in the league in batting at .325, leads with 25 homers, has 48 RBI, leads in slugging at .655, leads with a .468 On Base percentage, leads with a 1.123 OPS, and leads with 4.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

In the same respect, the Yankee centerfielder Curtis Granderson is doing it all for the New Yorkers, both hitting for power and hitting against lefties. He already has 21 homers to go with his .276 batting average and has nine homers against lefties. He even has 12 steals and may be the Yankee MVP this season.

Bautista gets 17 ASV
Granderson gets 4 ASV
Ellsbury gets 3 ASV.
Denard Span of the Twins, hitting .294 and playing great defensively, gets 2 ASV

DESIGNATED HITTER - voting
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 3,116,578
Michael Young, Rangers: 1,760,195
Victor Martinez, Tigers: 932,711
Johnny Damon, Rays: 864,535

Big Papi is the man for the Sox this season at the DH slot hitting .311 with 17 homers and 48 RBI, but he is not the only DH having an All-Star season. V-Mart is hitting .333, Michael Young is hitting .323 and the Royals Billy Butler is hitting .303.

Not getting any ASV votes are Bobby Abreu (.285), Vlad Guerrero (.282) and Johnny Damon (.274).

Obviously, fielding has no impact on any of these uni-dimensional players.

Ortiz gets 11 ASV
Martinez gets 8, Young 5, and Butler 1.

So, to sum it up, my AL starting nine:

C: Alex Avila
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Elvis Andrus
OF: Jose Bautista
OF: Curtis Granderson
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury
DH: David Ortiz

I would love to hear from you on your All-Stars (thats why we have the comments below)

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games.

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.