The Phillies so far are having a crappy season, among the worst in all of baseball, especially when one considers the money being spent on the team.
But that shouldn't keep us from recognizing when some players are in the midst of a very good season.
The two clearest examples on the Phillies have been Cliff Lee and Chase Utley. Lee had the 9th best FIP and 5th best xFIP in the NL before going on the DL. Given that his return isn't imminent, even if he comes back in time for the game, there is likely very little chance that he would be added to the All-star roster.
Utley has been up and down thus far, but even so his overall season to date is better than any other NL second baseman. So he is the 4th leading votegetter among all players in the NL (behind Tulowitzki, Molina, and Puig), and deservedly has a comfortable lead in NL voting at the position. Utley seems to have a good shot at his 6th election as the starter by the fans, where he already has the 2nd most in Phillies history, trailing only Mike Schmidt (9), and the third most of all NL second basemen, behind only Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg (9) and Joe Morgan (7).
However there are two other Phillies who also belong at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis on July 15th:
Rollins is having a bounce-back season, showing renewed power and improving his already above-average walk rate to the top 10% in the league.
Not that it's all that big of a surprise. While it's true that he had a down year in 2013, a player's decline phase is rarely a smoothly progressive path, and after all he was the third best overall SS in baseball two short years ago (second best if you exclude Ben Zobrist, who only played 47 games at short).
The story at the shortstop position this year is obviously dominated by Troy Tulowitzki, who has been healthy and playing out of his mind (helped as well by playing half his games at Coors Field). Tulo is therefore the NL's leading vote getter for very good reason, and nothing Phillies fans do in the voting will change the fact that he will take his rightful place as the NL's starting shortstop on July 15th.
But NL manager Mike Matheny will likely bring two reserves at short, as has been the case in recent years, so the question becomes who he will pick. The Cardinals' own Jhonny Peralta is also having a good year, and barring an injury is likely to be one of the two reserves. Below are the top NL shortstops to date by fWAR:
In filling these spots, All-Star managers undoubtedly consider a number of criteria. It's not clear how much attention they pay to where players rank in the fan voting, but it wouldn't help a player's case if he doesn't appear among the top vote getters.
At the moment, inexplicably Rollins isn't even in the top 5:
Regardless whether it makes a difference in his selection in the end or not, Phillies fans should be voting for Rollins as the NL shortstop. He has earned it, and while he won't be voted in as the starter, the votes he gets may matter in whether he is selected for the team, by making it tough for Matheny to pass over a player who is having the 2nd best season at the position, AND is a high vote getter.
Chooch is another player who having a very good season. With a .393 OBP and 126 wRC+, his 1.6 fWAR projects to 4.2 for the full season, which would be the second best of his career.
Four of the top five in fWAR at Catcher are in the top 5 in fan voting. The only one who isn't that high in the voting? Carlos Ruiz.
Again, nothing Phillies fans do in the voting is likely to cause a change at the top of the ballot. But it would be good to at least get Chooch into the top 5 among vote getters where he belongs.
As in previous years, there will likely be three catchers on the All-Star roster, including the starter. Yadier Molina is going no matter what, even if he somehow falls out of the voting lead. Chooch has earned Phillies fans' support for the one of the other spots.
In rough terms, there are three main types of All-Star voters:
- The Homer: votes for his team across the board, regardless of merit
- The Analyst: votes solely based on merit (however they define that), with no preference given the home team
- The Fair-minded Fan (everyone else): votes for his team if they are among the worthy contenders
How should we expect Phillies fans of these three archetypes to vote?
- The Homer would (or at least should) vote as many times as possible for both Rollins and Chooch.
- The Analyst: if they would like to give even more inconsequential votes to Tulo, or try to get Lucroy to the top, that's their right.
- The Fair-minded Fan would presumably vote for both Rollins and Chooch, and they should vote as much as possible to put them among the top vote getters where they belong.
Rollins and Ruiz have earned the votes of their fans, and we should be doing what we can to get them to Minneapolis in July.