Votebook: Interesting mix after Tulo at short in NL
Simmons, Rollins, Peralta among second-tier candidates worthy of consideration
Balloting continues for Major League Baseball's 85th All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota, and fans can cast their votes using the 2014 All-Star Game Ballot Sponsored by Experian. Deciding who should get voted into the starting lineup can be challenging. Today, Richard Justice and Phil Rogers discuss National League shortstops.
Rogers: There are some givens in life: One of them this year is that Troy Tulowitzki will be on the National League All-Star team this year, don't you think? So maybe the question we should debate is what's the deal with him and Coors Field? We might be able to have an argument about shortstop if anyone ever got Tulo out at Coors but they sure haven't been, have they? His hitting there is the craziest thing I've seen. To be hitting over .500 for as long as he has at home is amazing. These NL pitchers are pretty good, don't you think? So, really, Richard, how do you explain what Tulo is doing? Let's talk about that first and then get on to the question of who is the next best shortstop in the NL.
Justice: I'm with you. I can't even comprehend Tulo hitting .521 at Coors Field. His batting average is more than 200 points lower on the road, but even on the road, his OPS is .911. That's better than any other NL shortstop. He's the NL MVP by a wide margin at this point, and when you look at what Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gomez have done, that's even more impressive. Logic dictates he's going to cool off, but in terms of who should start at short for the NL All-Star team, there's no one else in the conversation. I hope the good folks of Colorado understand how lucky they are to be able to watch a guy like this every single night. It's amazing.
Rogers: Yeah, I'm sure those LoDo crowds do appreciate what they've got with Tulowitzki. His frequent absences due to injuries have given them little choice. I can't believe he's been around this long. The 2007 playoff run and the start of those "Tulo, Tulo, Tulo'' chants seem like they happened last year. But it probably doesn't seem that way to the Rockies organization. It's been a struggle for them despite having Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, guys any team would want to build around. Without Tulowitzki dominating the conversation, we could be discussing Jimmy Rollins' renaissance or Starlin Castro's emergence as a middle-of-the-order contributor. Jhonny Peralta has been hot and cold for the Cardinals but his WAR (2.2) is the next best to Tulowitzki's 4.7. If you were going by the eye test, you'd have to have Brandon Crawford up there high too. His impact on the Giants' is huge. I fell in love with him as a player during the 2012 playoffs. He's the real deal, and it looks like he's becoming more confident as a hitter. I'm not sure who'd I'd go with as the second-best shortstop. You have a favorite outside of Tulo?
Justice: I expected Andrelton Simmons to be more a topic of conversation. He was the best defensive player in the National League last season and a superstar in the making. The Braves were impressed enough to sign him to a seven-year, $58-million extension. What happened to this guy? fangraphs.com has his defense eighth-best among all shortstops. His WAR is 0.6, which is 15th-best among MLB shortstops. This is all about defense because is batting average, slugging and OPS are all up a bit over last season, so that theory among scouts that you have to see a guy for 1,500 plate appearances to make an evaluation doesn't hold. He has 1,025, by the way. On the other hand, he won't turn 25 until September, so we're still right at the beginning of his career. I'm pretty sure the Braves wouldn't trade him for any other shortstop in the game.
Rogers: You're right on Simmons. He was a huge guy for the Braves last year and hasn't been this year, which is really hurting them. They need to get some help for Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis. A big second half from him would be huge but I think the All-Star train is leaving the station without him. Another guy who has been a statistical disappointment is Ian Desmond. He's a really important player for the Nationals. He's been hitting for power but not average. I bet Castro gets some consideration. He has gotten back on the horse after a puzzling slide the last year and a half. Rick Renteria has been hitting him cleanup, behind Anthony Rizzo, and he's been productive. He's got a .754 OPS, which is outstanding for a shortstop. But I think Tulowitzki and Peralta are the two most deserving. Do you think players will vote for Peralta? If they punish him for the PED suspension, then Castro or Rollins might go as the players' choice.
Justice: It'll be interesting to see how Mike Matheny sorts out the positions on the NL team. Tulo probably will win the fan vote, and based on his history, Jimmy Rollins has to go. That's one of my "distinguished service" nominations. He'll probably take his own guy, Jhonny Peralta, and deservedly so. Which means three young guys -- Crawford, Simmons and Chris Owings -- will be staying home. Wait 'til next year, fellas.