How many Rangers in 2011 All-Star Game?
"If I have a need and I got it here on this team...." Washington said, smiling instead of completing the sentence.
But that still means it's unlikely the Rangers will send as many players to the game as they did in 2010. Then, the Rangers had six players go to Anaheim, including newly-acquired Cliff Lee. OF Josh Hamilton and DH Vladimir Guerrero started, while SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Ian Kinsler and closer Neftali Feliz joined them as reserves. Feliz was the only player from the club that didn't play in the game.
This year, Hamilton could end up starting for the fourth consecutive year. He remains third in the voting, though Jacoby Ellsbury continues to gain ground. But Hamilton is the only Ranger in position to start. Some of the other candidates:
* DH Michael Young: He's second right now in the voting at DH and would likely get in via player vote, as he should. Young was a critical offensive component for this team while Hamilton missed six weeks and has been the club's most consistent hitter, batting over .300 since the second week of the season.
* 3B Adrian Beltre: He's an automatic All-Star, if you ask me. If the players don't vote for him -- and again, he's second in the balloting -- then Washington will certainly put him in. His glove has been exceptional and he has hit the ball much better in June. His average won't jump out at people, but he has a team-high 53 RBIs and has added 12 homers. Alex Rodriguez will likely win the fan vote and Kevin Youkilis has had a good season too. But if you ask me, Beltre deserves the backup spot. (Jim Bowden agrees with me.)
* RHP Alexi Ogando: Before his last two starts, this seemed like an obvious pick. But competition is stiff at starter and Ogando will need to get back on track with a couple of solid starts to get off the bubble. "It's tough to say," Washington said when asked about Ogando in the All-Star Game. "I have to see what other players are out there and if every team has a representative." Ogando's numbers remain solid, but when you've got a gaggle of players with similarly good numbers, it's tough. I still argue that he'll make it and do so by bouncing back with a couple of good starts. We'll see.
* RHP Neftali Feliz: At first blush, it might seem like he's a longshot. But remember, Washington's job is to not only make sure every team is represented, but to put the best team out there to try to win the game and, consequently, homefield advantage for the American League in the Worl Series. Feliz didn't look like the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year much until the last week. But he did get that dominance back a bit over the weekend. He blew a save on Wednesday and that inconsistency may hurt his candidacy. But if he gets a handful of saves between now and early July, an argument could be made for him. Despite missing two weeks on the DL with shoulder inflammation, Feliz is seventh in saves in the AL. He could move up that list and make it interesting. Of course, that depends on how many other guys Washington will need to pick from other teams.
Those four above are the leading candidates. But there are other Rangers getting plenty of votes from fans:
2B Ian Kinsler: He's third in the balloting, meaning he isn't likely to go unless an injury occurs and he gets in (and that happened last year to Kinsler when Dustin Pedroia couldn't go). Kinsler is hitting just .236, but any good sabermetrics guru will tell you he's valuable in all kinds of key categories, not the least of which is WAR. Still, he's not going to get voted ahead of Robinson Cano or Pedroia by the players.
OF Nelson Cruz: It would be fun for fans to see Boomstick make an appearance at the All-Star Game, but the competition at outfield appears too great. Cruz's average has hovered below the .250 mark, which obscures a little his power numbers. He leads the Rangers with 16 homers. But he's also seventh in OF voting by fans and there are too many guys having better seasons.
SS Elvis Andrus: The 22-year-old made it to his first All-Star Game last year via the player voting as he finished second to Derek Jeter. He's been third in the balloting for the past few weeks, behind Jeter and Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians. And I would imagine the players will show some love for Jhonny Peralta, Alexi Ramirez and Yunel Escobar, too. That doesn't leave room for Andrus.
LHP C.J. Wilson: Some of you have asked about him, so I threw him in here. He's taken the ball, pitched deep and helped his team win games. He has seven wins this season, an ERA in the top-20 and is sixth in innings pitched. Again, too many guys in front of him to make the squad. The numbers just aren't good enough with so much competition.
So we'll see. Washington will have some tough choices. He said he's been studying the teams so that he's ready when the time comes. But he has to see how the players vote and how many teams still need representatives before he can iron everything out.
Who do you think should make the All-Star team from the Rangers? How many guys do you think they'll end up with in Arizona?
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