Single-Issue All-Star Voting Guide: Defensive highlights of designated hitters
When filling out your 2015 All-Star Game ballot, it is important to take everything into consideration -- even the nittiest, grittiest details. You only get 35 votes, after all, and maybe there is one issue that you hold above all others. A single issue that separates one candidate from the rest. An issue that will sway your hand in the (metaphoric) voting booth. An issue, like … the defensive highlights of designated hitters.
Though they may not be fielding during the game, it's in voters' best interests to know as much as they can about a player. Sure, slugging percentage and home runs are important for DHs. But don't dismiss their talent in the field.
Below are defensive highlights for some of this year's DH candidates -- savor them, because it isn't every day you see a DH on the diamond.
Nelson Cruz, Mariners
With Cruz, it's not so much "DH defensive highlights" as just straight "defensive highlights." He's one of the few DHs on the ballot to play somewhere besides first base -- in fact, Cruz has started more games this season in right field than as a designated hitter.
Cruz can make catches down low, punishing the grass like his colossal home runs punish opposing pitchers:
And up high, to rob ballot-mate C.J. Cron of a hit.
Vote Cruz: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Chris Davis, Orioles
Davis has started more than 50 games at first, the most non-DH starts of anyone on the ballot, but let's make this simple: Do not try to bunt with Chris Davis at first. DO NOT TRY TO BUNT ON CHRIS DAVIS.
Vote Davis: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
It may not have been the prettiest diving stop, tumbling around like a load of laundry, and he may have ended up on his back, but Encarnacion made the play and got the out. That's all that matters.
Vote Encarnacion: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Adam LaRoche, White Sox
There might be some people in the world who think unassisted double plays should be left to everyday fielders. Well, LaRoche scoffs at that. Here he is fielding a Yoenis Cespedes groundout and tagging/hugging Miguel Cabrera on the basepath, all by himself.
Vote LaRoche: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Kendrys Morales, Royals
Morales has actually spent slightly more time at first base than at DH during his nine-year career, so it really shouldn't be too surprising that he's able to snag balls in the dirt as well as anyone:
Vote Morales: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Mitch Moreland, Rangers
Moreland's bat has him on the ballot at DH, but he's started the large majority of games this season at first and plays like this show why: First, the excellent pick. Second, he got into a footrace to first base with a player named Billy Burns, and he won!
Vote Moreland: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
David Ortiz, Red Sox
Each season brings a handful of games featuring Ortiz playing first base, and every one is a beautiful occasion to be celebrated. Here he is using his towering presence to simply inhale a hard hit from Ben Revere. For someone who hasn't played more than 10 games as first baseman since 2006, he makes it look so easy.
Vote Ortiz: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Before 2015, A-Rod had never played first base. He started as a shortstop -- don't forget, he won two Gold Glove Awards -- and switched to third with the Yankees, but he never spent time on the opposite side of the diamond.
This season, he has played two games at first (one as a starter) totaling just over nine innings. It hasn't always been the prettiest, but it isn't bad for a guy who just started learning to ride this particular bike.
Vote Rodriguez: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot
Kennys Vargas, Twins
Here's Burns again, trying to sneak past Vargas on his way to first. He was originally called safe, but replay ruled that Vargas had made the tag. That's a smooth move for anyone.
Vote Vargas: Esurance MLB All-Star ballot