ASG debate: Jones or Cespedes in starting OF?
*** We will be doing daily ASG debates until 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think! ***
In the first results of the American League All-Star Game balloting, Baltimore's Adam Jones ranked fourth and Detroit's Yoenis Cespedes was fifth.
Today's question: If only one could crack the starting lineup for the July 14 Midsummer Classic at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, which should it be?
There was little to choose between the two statistically. Each has six home runs. Jones has a higher on-base percentage, but Cespedes has a better slugging percentage, based mostly on a big edge in doubles. That translates into a near dead heat in OPS: .800 for Jones, .782 for Cespedes.
So maybe the best way to tackle this is the same way you'd select an MVP Award winner. Which of these guys is more crucial to his team's success?
On the surface, Cespedes was that guy with the Athletics. Oakland won two straight AL West titles with him batting in the middle of the order, and the A's had a commanding lead last season when he was traded to the Red Sox for Jon Lester, but they've struggled since.
But the Red Sox didn't have the same success once he arrived, and Boston traded Cespedes after the season. And while Cespedes is having an excellent year, nobody questions that the Tigers' lineup revolves around Miguel Cabrera.
So the choice here is Jones, for a few tangible reasons. For example, Cespedes has struck out 48 times, twice as often as Jones (24).
And remember, the Orioles came into this season with the added pressure of being the defending AL East champions. But they opened without cleanup hitter Nelson Cruz, who signed with Seattle as a free agent, and without Matt Wieters, who is expected to return next Friday in Cleveland.
And how did Jones respond? He led the AL in batting average in April (.400), finished second in slugging (.707) and third in OBP (.440) and total bases (53).
Beyond that, though, is the respect Jones commands in the Orioles' clubhouse and the fact that center field is a premium position; Cespedes plays left.
Jones has been an All-Star four times in his career, and he's been selected as a starter by the fan vote in each of the past two seasons. This year should be his third.
You can vote for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- until Thursday, July 2, at 11:59 p.m. ET. For the first time, voting is exclusively online.
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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.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities.
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