Cespedes, Martinez deserving of Final Votes
Tigers slugger, Cards righty having campaigns worthy of trip to Midsummer Classic
The 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote is underway to determine the last spot on the American League and National League rosters, and there are some very difficult choices on the ballots.
If you're having a particularly difficult time deciding which guys should get the opportunity to play at the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park, here are the guys I'd vote for in each league.
The two-time defending Home Run Derby champ is an extra-base machine. Cespedes has 38 in all, the fifth-highest total in the AL. His name is dotted across the leaderboard in slugging (18th), OPS (25th) and total bases (11). Cespedes would give AL manager Ned Yost a powerful option against one of those dominant right-handed NL pitchers.
Cespedes has a .514 slugging percentage against right-handed pitching and 33 extra-base hits in 255 at-bats. He could change a close game with a single swing of the bat. Cespedes loves those moments. In 13 at-bats with the bases loaded this season, he has delivered a grand slam, a double, four singles and 12 RBIs.
Two years ago when Cespedes' Oakland teammates learned he'd been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby at Citi Field, they almost universally predicted he would win, that he would rise to the moment. They said he was at his best when the lights were brightest.
Cespedes had the crowd at Citi Field on its feet with an impressive display of power and quickness. Afterward, he smiled and whispered to a friend, "I told you I could do this." If Cespedes got, say, one at-bat late in this year's game, he might just be a difference maker.
If the All-Star Game is for shining a spotlight on the best players on the best teams, Martinez belongs.
Martinez is just 23 and in his first full season as a Cardinals starter. That said, he continues to establish himself as one of baseball's young stars. Martinez is third in the NL with nine victories, 10th in strikeouts (105) and ninth in ERA (2.70).
Martinez does it with power, throwing a fastball/slider combination almost 80 percent of the time. If NL manager Bruce Bochy wants a right-handed strikeout option at some point in the All-Star Game, Martinez would be a nice option.
Martinez's average fastball of 94.7 mph is the fourth-fastest average in the NL, and he's averaging 9.45 strikeouts per nine innings (sixth best among NL starting pitchers). He's 10th among NL starting pitchers with 105 total strikeouts. Martinez won the final spot in the Cards' rotation during Spring Training after making 57 relief appearances and seven spot starts in 2014.
Whether Martinez grabs a spot on the 2015 NL All-Star team or not, he'll soon become a familiar face at the Midsummer Classic.