In which we will discuss which Mariners deserve to make the All-Star team.
Ichiro: No one in their right mind would disagree. You just can’t compare to a .343/.397/.439 line. And 20 stolen bases. Through 65 games. He’s on pace to be worth near 6 wins above replacement. UZR likes Ichiro (16.4 UZR/150 projection so far this year), and, as usual, he’s rarely swinging and missing. I don’t really need to say much else. I’d love for Ichiro to keep up his rate of production into his forties — and I’m sure he is fully capable of doing that — but the human body tends to break down over time. But if anyone could hit .350 at age 42, it’s Ichiro.
One of Doug Fister/Jason Vargas: This has more to do with the system than the actual success rate of Vargas and Fister. True, the sparkling ERAs belie xFIPs of 4.3 and 4.8 respectively, but the pair does have the fortune of pitching in front of the M’s defense and in the spacious Safeco Field. Vargas has pitched in a way that is much more sustainable over time, but Fister has shown a nifty ability to hit the corners of the strike zone. The deception in his delivery might come from his height or his arm angle, but whatever he’s doing is working, as opposing hitters just aren’t swinging at many of his pitches. He’s also posting extreme groundball rates, which never hurts. Vargas, on the other hand, is striking out 2.4 batters to every batter he walks, and currently has a decent 5.66 K/9 rate. He’s performed beyond expectations and I wouldn’t be surprised he finished 2010 with an FIP under 4.
Cliff Lee: This seems obvious, doesn’t it? He’s already at 3.0 wins above a replacement-level pitcher, and he’s started a grand total of 9 games. There’s the 7.86 K/9 rate. The 60-to-4 K/BB ratio. The 1.93 FIP. The 3.02 xFIP. If these numbers lead you to believe that Cliff Lee may well be the best pitcher in the American League, you are right. As Griffin told me the other day, rather frankly, “if Lee doesn’t make it, I’ll kill myself.” A world in which 2010 Cliff Lee isn’t elected to the All-Star team isn’t a world worth living in.
Franklin Gutierrez: Yeah. All of a sudden, Guti stopped hitting (and striking out) and starting walking, resulting in a line that, to this point, looks like .275/.355/.400. Even though his UZR is only 4.7, Guti’s offensive proficiency and plate approach have bumped up this year. Oh yeah, and he’s on pace to be worth 5 WAR this year. Franklin Gutierrez is also arguably the most watchable center-fielder in baseball, thanks to his frequent array of diving catches and acrobatic plays. Despite what UZR says (remember that single-season UZR values should be taken with a grain of salt), Guti hasn’t gotten worse on defense this year. In fact, he still seems to be improving all aspects of his game. All-Star voters damn well better vote for this man.
Sean White: Wait, what? Is Don Wakamatsu running this blog or something?