ASG debate: Miggy or Fielder at first for AL?
There can be no wrong choice among the supremely worthy candidates for the American's League starter at first base in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers is a perennial All-Star and perhaps the finest all-around hitter of his generation. He is a nine-time All-Star, and, of course, the AL MVP in 2012 and 2013. He won the AL Triple Crown in 2012.
Prince Fielder of the Rangers isn't exactly new to the center stage. He has been on five All-Star teams, and it was eight years ago that he established himself as a premier power hitter with a 50-home-run season for the Brewers. But Fielder is fashioning what might very well be the best all-around offensive season of his career, even as he is coming back from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
Miggy and Prince are the most productive hitters among the AL first base candidates, and this has traditionally been an offense-first position. But a legitimate case can also be formed, by those who lean toward an all-around performer, for Eric Hosmer of the Royals.
Hosmer is only 25, but he has already won two Gold Gloves. He is an emerging offensive player. While his numbers are not at the level of Cabrera and Fielder, they are still commendable -- .300/.371/.475 through Thursday.
Cabrera is having a season that, for anybody else, would be a career year. For him, it is slightly off his peak. Through 60 games, he was at .330/.436./577. The .436 on-base percentage was, not surprisingly, a league-leading figure.
Fielder is having a season unlike any in his career. After 60 games, he was .346/.408/.527. The .346 average leads the league and constitutes a breakthrough for a player with a .287 lifetime average.
This is a particular breakthrough for a man who was limited to 42 games in the previous season. But even the neck surgery does not detract from the fact that, for the vast majority of his career, Fielder has been a remarkably durable player. He has played in all 162 games in four seasons, and he played in 161 once. Prior to last season, he had never played in fewer than 157 games.
Some people approach All-Star voting on the basis of what the candidates have done in the current year. Other people see the voting as a combination of current accomplishments and what amounts to a lifetime achievement award.
In the cases of Miggy and Prince, both of those categories could apply. Cabrera has had a career that has very few contemporary parallels. But Fielder's career has also been characterized by accomplishment, and this year it includes an entirely new area of excellence. There is no wrong choice, no inappropriate choice, no lesser choice in this All-Star debate.
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Following the announcement of the 2015 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player for each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 14, watch the 2015 All-Star Game live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.
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