The 2014 MLB All-Star Game Starters Debate: The Rev Vs. The Cheap Seat Fan


Over the past two days, the starting lineups for both sides of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game have been dissected by TSFJ's head editor and baseball aficionado, the Reverend Paul Revere, and the lead of the on-site baseball department, Matt Whitener. The debates against the people's choices have come to a close, and now the standoff has become of the mano y mano variety, and now its time for the critiques to turn potentially, even personal.

Today both sides will jockey for why their differing picks are superior, while attempting to disprove the other's choice for the same position. And when the dust settles, perhaps nothing else will have either. At any rate, here is the final primary in the examination of the perfectly imperfect task of pick the 'right' All-Star team.


Catcher: Yadier Molina vs. Jonathan Lucroy

Rev: OK, let's just call this like it is — Matt's "indisputable" decision to go with the fans and take Yadier Molina as his NL catcher is nothing more than a homer move. Sure, Yadier is still gunning down runners and handling the St. Louis staff with the best of them. I don't want to take anything away from the greatness of Molina. But let's be real here. Jonathan Lucroy has been better than Molina at damn near everything. He's played more games, scored way more runs, collected two dozen more hits, doubled up Yadier in doubles, has more homers, way more RBI, more walks, a far superior batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. Add in his 3.9 WAR, and he's not only been better than Yadier this year — he's been way, way, way, WAY better. It's not even close. Oh, and he's helped his Brewers to the top spot in the NL Central, ahead of Yadier's Cards. This is just stupid that I even have to debate this. Let's move on.

Matt: The selection of Lucroy is not a far-fetched idea, and is even one that I have made myself recently. However, the reality of the situation is that Lucroy has been better than Molina—at one aspect of the game only, and that is at the plate. While there is no debating that he has been superior at the plate, there simply is nobody in the game that doesn’t throw pitches for a living that changes an opponent’s destiny more than Molina does—and this year is no exception. His defensive impact on the game has been superior than Lucroy’s has been offensively: Lucroy has allowed 49 stolen bases against him, while Molina only 18. Molina has also turned twice as many double plays, guides his pitchers to a lower ERA, and for good measure, has the Cardinals only 2 games back of the Brewers today. Catcher is position of details as well as measurables, and Molina is still the master of his domain there by far.

Second Base: Chase Utley vs. David Murphy

Rev: Chase Utley is a fine choice, but as a guy who watches the one-time best second baseman in baseball on a nearly daily basis, the simple fact of the matter is Utley has been dog shit of late. He got out to a hot start that saw him putting up MVP-type numbers … but has since dropped off the cliff. He's regressed defensively, his already suspect arm now reaching full-on noodle status, and his bat has slowed as the temperature has heated up. With David Murphy playing much more consistently this season, he's the man who finally deserves some recognition. Chase is still doing a fine job, but his days as a shoe-in to start the All-Star Game are a thing of the past.

Matt: David Murphy is the ultimate empty stats warrior. Sure, he’s posting solid spread of stats, but there is not even one area that he has a great advantage in over not only Utley, but every other second baseman in the NL. Regarding his in-league ranks at his position, he is fifth in RBI, fourth in home runs, third in average and fourth in on-base percentage. Add on to this that he is a brutal defensive liability, who leads the Majors in second base errors and has the second worst fielding percentage, despite being in the lower half of the game in range factor, and there’s no debate here. Murphy is debatable as pick as an All-Star at all, let alone as a starter.

Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto vs. Adam Wainwright

Rev: OK, so Clayton Kershaw may have pitched the most impressive game in MLB history and is currently on one of the greatest pitching streaks of all time … wait, where was I going with this? Oh, that's right: Johnny Cueto. In all seriousness, no one can logically complain should Kershaw get the starting bid for the NL. He's on another planet right now. But given Cueto's impressive numbers and the fact he's actually pitched in a lot more games due to Kershaw's late start to the season, I'd give Johnny his shot. I mean, jeez, does Kershaw have to get all the good things on the diamond?

Matt: Kershaw has been incredible, and nobody has gotten very close to scoring on as of late, let alone actually defeating him. But for the sake of debate, if there was to be another hurler to take the mound, it should be Adam Wainwright. At the risk of being called a homer again, what Wainwright is doing is only approachable by where Kershaw is. He has the lowest ERA in the Majors by a good margin and nine of his 18 starts have gone at least seven innings and have yielded no runs against.


American League

Second Base: Jose Altuve vs. Ian Kinsler

Rev: I'm not going to lie — Jose Altuve probably deserves this spot. But with Ian Kinsler inexplicably not even making the AL roster as of yet, I couldn't let the injustice stand. And while Altuve leads the AL in batting average and steals — and deserves recognition for that — Kinsler's all-around consistency at the dish makes him a worthy candidate.

Matt: Checkmate. The case Rev makes for Kinsler is a passion play of sorts for the pretty blatant oversight of him being left off the AL club entirely, and it is a just one. And while they are asked to do different things, Altuve is doing his MUCH better.

Shortstop: Anyone But Derek Jeter

Rev: So here's a confession — I completely glossed over the AL shortstop in my post Tuesday. Flat out missed the position. It was completely an accident, probably because as Matt stated, "It is not a banner year for shortstops in the AL." I mean, I get the Derek Jeter farewell tour, but given that Erick Aybar leads all AL shortstops in WAR and has more runs, hits, triples, home runs and RBI than Alcides Escobar while leading all AL shortstops in slugging and OPS, my nod goes to Erick Aybar. Derek Jeter has received more than enough love in his career.

Matt: In all fairness, I picked Escobar more for his defensive prowess and his growth from a year ago, when his potential was beginning to be doubted. But Aybar is having a majorly underrated campaign for the Halos, so I am actually not opposed to this choice either. Regardless of the pomp and circumstance of it all, it is a shame that neither of the top two performing AL shortstops will make the roster.

Outfield: Adam Jones vs. Michael Brantley

Rev: Adam Jones is not only a fantastic all-around center fielder, but he's also one of my favorite players in baseball. I really have no serious qualms with Jones, the clear leader of the first-place Orioles, getting a starting spot. But I stand by my stance that Michael Brantley deserves to be in the starting lineup, leading all AL outfielders in average and putting together a wonderful season in anonymity for the Tribe.

Matt: Speaking of underrated seasons, Michael Brantley is having a tremendously excellent under the radar effort. While it is true that he is leading all MLB outfielders in average and has clipped Jones in RBI, stolen bases, runs scored and OPS as well, there is something to be said for rising to any and all occasions when needed, and Jones has done that for the O’s. He is the superior defender by far (Brantley is the lowest rated AL left fielder by defensive WAR) and Jones has hit .319 with 15 home runs over the past two months, while replacing the lost production from the injured Matt Wieters in Baltimore and moving them atop the AL East. This is the closest of margins between deserving starters in either league, but Jones got his due.

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