Your guide to the 2008 election

This year, Americans will undertake one of their most sacred duties as citizens.  Millions of ballots will be cast, and this time, it really counts.  This year’s election will shape the very fabric of America.  (When did I become that writer?)  On a Tuesday night later this year, we will all gather together to watch the results of this momentous tallying play out on live television, and those results will have have effects that will be heard months, even years down the road. 
I ask all America to pause and consider what a great responsibility is being given to you.  Should you vote for the veteran who’s been doing it for years or for the new guy who might be a flash in the pan or might be the next big thing?  It’s a tough decision.  Maybe you vote for one of those other guys who probably won’t get elected anyway, but who you feel still deserve some support.  Now, it’s a tradition for media members to endorse candidates, and here at StatSpeak, we’re part of the new wing of the new new media.  I respect that you may have differing opinions on the candidates than I do, but perhaps my opinion means something to you.  Therefore, I’d like to endorse the following candidates in this 2008 election.  To the All-Star team.
(As for that other election going on this year, I have no clue.  I personally intend to flip a coin.  Or vote for Tommy Hinzo again.  And yes, I really have voted for Tommy Hinzo for President in the past.)
National League:
Catcher – Brian McCann.  Oddly enough, McCann’s currently losing in the balloting to a rookie from Chicago who might end up being amazing or might just be another in a long line of disappointments for the Cubs.  Sport is indeed a microcosm of life.  McCann gets my nod based on being atop the NL VORP standings for catcher and for being from Atlanta.  I could see an honest vote going to Russell Martin, and a good third place vote going to Soto, but there aren’t any third place votes on the All-Star ballot.
First Base - Lance Berkman.  Every once in a while, I wonder if people actually pay attention when voting.  It would be so easy for people just to punch the little chad by Albert Pujols’s name out of habit, but I’m impressed that the fans actually have Berkman up by a good margin.  After all, Terry Steinbach (!) actually started a couple of All-Star Games because people weren’t paying attention.  Can we change America?  Yes we can!
Second Base – Chase Utley.  He’ll win the actual vote in a landslide.  The thing that gets me is that a guy like Dan Uggla who is running a close second (not worthy of the same sentence as Utley, but worthy of the same paragraph), is right now running behind Mark DeRosa and Kaz Matsui?  Maybe all of Uggla’s votes in Florida have been locked away in a… are we still allowed to make Bush v. Gore jokes or is that too Michael Moore?
Third Base – Chipper Jones.  I know that David Wright is the wave of the future.  I know that batting average is a lousy stat.  But hey, Chipper at .400 at the All-Star break?
Shortstop –   Miguel Tejada.  He’s potentially been lying about his age and vitamin-taking habits, but thankfully, America has a history of voting for liars.  Hanley Ramirez is having a better year (although he plays horrid defense…), so if you vote on things like (hitting) ability, Ramirez is your pick.  But, Tejada is a better story.  Speaking of drugs, will someone tell me how Ryan Theriot is out-polling last year’s (ill-deserved and currently injured) MVP Jimmy Rollins?  Figure that Rollins would get some votes based on the fact that he won the MVP.  Oh right, this is the one election where they serve alcohol while you vote.  (Imagine whom America would elect if everyone went wasted to the voting booth.)  Now, that I think of it, Theriot plays for the Cubs.  And this is the third Cub who is strangely higher up in the standings than he deserves.  Maybe some of those dead people in the cemetaries are practicing with All-Star ballots.
Outfield – Pat Burrell, Jason Bay, Matt Holliday.  I’m not voting for Nate McLouth on GP’s.  Let’s see, the top three VORPers among NL outfielders are Ryan Ludwick, Jason Bay, and Pat Burrell (Matt Holliday is fourth).  The top three in WPA are Burrell, Bay, and Holliday (Ludwick is fourth…)  Holliday has been hurt, but I just can’t find it in my heart to punch out the little thing by Ryan Ludwick’s name.  It just doesn’t seem right.  The Indians had him for a while and figured he’d turn into a power hitting corner outfielder.  They were unfortunately right.  Plus, Holliday still has a little bit of that “you haven’t heard of him but I have” snobbery chic factor left, although not much.  That said, the fans are currently voting for the sentimental favorite (Ken Griffey, Jr.), the endlessly-talked-about-guy-who-signed-the-big-contract (Alfonso Soriano), and the he’s-Japanese-so-he-must-be-good guy (Kosuke Fukudome).  Two Cubs… weird…
American League
Catcher – Joe Mauer.  I opened the current vote totals to see what was going on in the actual voting and found a disturbing pattern.  The leaders: Varitek, Youklis, Pedroia, Jeter, A-Rod, and Manny (and Ichiro and Josh Hamilton.)  David Ortiz is winning at DH.  ESPN, what hath thou wrought?!  Since I’m the one writing this, I will no longer allow for the endorsing of any member of the Yankees or Red Sox.  In this case, it’s pretty easy as Mauer has been a better catcher (by VORP) than either Posada or ‘Tek.  Then again, so has Dioner Navarro.
First Baseman – Justin Morneau.  Oh great, the top two VORPers among AL first basemen are Jason Giambi and Kevin Youkilis.  Here’s why you should vote Morneau, other than to counteract the whole Yankees-Red Sox axis of evil.  Morneau is Canadian.  Now, what are the two most awkward moments on television all year?  The playing of the Canadian National Anthem at the All-Star game.  Why?  Because the camera guys have to ask ”What do we focus on for those two minutes?”  If we can get Jason Bay (also Canadian) and Morneau in there (plus whoever the token Blue Jay is), they can alternate between the two of them and Avril Lavigne, who will undoubtedly be called on to screech the anthem.  In other words, this election is all about foreign policy.
Second Baseman – Ian Kinsler and/or Brian Roberts.  The second base crop is pretty underwhelming this year.  Since we’re going a bit of political allegory here, this particular choice is like voting for the County Court of Appeals Judge, Third Circuit, for the term beginning on January 2nd.  You have no idea who any of the candidates are.  They’re probably all somewhat sleazy, yet competent enough lawyers.  And so you vote for the guy whose last name you like best.  This is why when I actually vote for the All-Star teams, I vote for all the Cleveland Indians and all the guys in the NL who won’t get many votes anyway.
Third Baseman – Alex Rodriguez.  Yeah, yeah, I know, no Yankees… but the game is in Yankee Stadium and he’s going to win anyway.  This is just a shrewd political maneuver on my part.  Plus, he’s the best hitter in the game and half of America votes just to say that they voted for the winner.  Besides, it’s not like we’ve never seen a broken promise in politics.
Shortstop – Michael Young.  Young’s probably wondering what it takes to get noticed around baseball.  His stats are superior to Jeter’s (and everyone else at the position) and he’s been to the ASG a few times before.  Heck, he was even the MVP in 2006.  But, the guy with the amazing resume doesn’t always get noticed when there’s a rock star around.  Just ask Bill Richardson.
Outfield -Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin, and B.J. Upton.  Hamilton’s story of putting his life back together is truly inspiring considering he was finally able to realize a lot of the potential he was supposed to have.  The guy he was traded for (Edinson Volquez) isn’t having a bad year either.  Carlos Quentin, where have you been hiding all this time?  You snuck up on everyone so much that I actually had to write your name in.  That means your own team didn’t think that you would be one of the best three outfielders on your team, much less the league!  B.J. Upton gets a nod based on the fact that he plays for the Rays, and the Rays are having the kind of year where they deserve to have a starter.  I should probably be suggesting that you vote for the ever-sublime Manny Ramirez (argh, there I am being that writer again) or the strangely-resurrgent Johnny Damon, but it’s my ballot.
Designated Hitter – Frank Thomas.  This is a snide vote on my end.  When Thomas was released by the Blue Jays, Sabermetricians everywhere shook their heads at how the Blue Jays could lack such a basic understanding of how to evaluate a small sample size (correct answer: don’t).  The A’s (gratuitous Moneyball reference!) picked him up and look what he’s done since.  He’s not the best DH in the league this year and he won’t win., but consider this a protest vote.
Then again, maybe I’ll just write in Barry Bonds.  How cool would that be?  He hasn’t retired.  He gets voted to start the game and is wearing just a plain gray uniform.  Hmmm… 
Anyway, go vote.

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3 Responses to Your guide to the 2008 election

  1. Shane says:

    What is the point of giving us multiple chances to vote?

  2. Alex M. says:

    I hate people who vote for Derek Jeter at shortstop. I agree he is the only Yankee who I can tolerate, but Michael Young’s stats are clearly better and the only time you should brag about Jeter and playing the field is when we’re talking about his dating habits.

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