Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Catcher & DH

Buster Posey is a world champion & reigning #1 catcher on the Player Rater but he is not worth his ADP
Buster Posey is great but is not worth taking at his current ADP

Draft season is approaching and it seems that we still overthink how to handle catchers. While the production from the position and their ADP’s seem to be coming closer together, there are still owners out there who think that acquiring a top catcher is of the utmost importance. In that, a player like Buster Posey gets drafted too soon. He was the only catcher to crack the top 50 via ESPN’s Player Rater (he finished 49th). He and Jonathan Lucroy were the only two to finish in the top 100 (Lucroy broke out, finishing at 97). Even in two-catcher leagues, I think you can get by owning a top-12 option at the position and waiting until later on in your draft to gamble on a flier type. Devin Mesoraco circa 2014 comes to mind on the flier front.

Due to the declining power numbers in baseball, designated hitters are in transition as well. The top player at the position will be 39 this year and though there seems to be a player who can match Ortiz’s thump, Chris Carter’s batting average leaves something to be desired. 30-homers out of a single player will be rare in 2015, making Carter more valuable than he would have been otherwise. Whether it is the new age of pitching dominance or the emergence of shifts and specialty pitchers, run production will be in demand in fantasy next season. Power is such a scarce commodity that batting averages will likely be ignored if a player can produce 30 home runs. The stigma about a player that hits below .240 and launches 30 bombs is all but gone.

So how do we treat the players and rankings for these positions going forward? I gave my thoughts above about catcher, I try to target a solid top 10-12 catcher and get him at a fair market price whether in auctions or drafts then target a bounce back candidate or younger catcher who could break out later on. If the gamble does not work, there is bound to be someone on the waiver wire I can move on to. If any position in fantasy baseball is related to the kicker in fantasy football, it’s the catcher. Find one with a good chance to get at bats on a solid team and you’re golden. These are your Yan Gomes, Salvador Perez, and Russell Martin types. After that, take a flier or get two of the types above and gamble on upside later in the draft. But to spend a second round pick on a Buster Posey, as good of a real baseball player as he is, just does not make much sense to me.

Following up on my article about the NFBC’s top 200 by ADP, I will list the catchers taken in the top 200 along with their average draft position in the chart:
Catchers ADP Chart
As much as I liked Devin Mesoraco last year, I am shying away from him at the present cost this year. There are too many other players I will be targeting at pick 80. Knowing a catcher rarely makes the top 100 in overall rankings makes it tough to grab one early. Bounce back candidates include Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario and Brian McCann (if he can solve the shift). Stephen Vogt and Carlos Santana lose catcher status in leagues that use 20 games played for eligibility purposes, so that stinks. In an effort to gather statistics, I made a spreadsheet listing their projections by Steamer and CBS:

Catchers Projection Chart 1-6
Catchers Projection Chart 7-13

Two players catch my attention on the chart above; Evan Gattis and Travis d’Arnaud. One is limited by his defense and the other has durability questions. Rumor has it that Gattis will open 2015 as Atlanta’s left fielder now that Justin Upton has been traded to San Diego. This means good things for his value since he will not wear down physically due to the rigors of catching. This should allow him to get 500 at bats. That would be huge since he has hit 43 home runs in 723 career at bats in the majors. If he hits the magic 500 number, that would pace him for 29.74 homers if he maintains his career rates. 30-homer potential out of my catcher slot is something I will definitely be exploring at pick 125.

Travis d’Arnaud also has the ability to be a stealth starting catcher for fantasy owners in 2015, but he has to stay on the field. In the second half of 2014, d’Arnaud slashed .265/.313/.474 while hitting 7 home runs and showed us why he was a top catching prospect. He did appear in 108 games last year and had some bone chips removed in October, so if he is healthy and can stay healthy, then he represents a bargain in 2015.

Speaking of health, Yadier Molina is not even being drafted in the NFBC top 200 so if you like a low double-digit home run hitting catcher that will actually help your batting average then he is your guy. If a team has loaded up on power hitting early, then Molina is a perfect target to balance a team. Another player I like with spotty health issues but burgeoning power is Wilson Ramos. He may break my heart one more time but he can hit 18-20 home runs for Washington while batting .270. Speculate. One more target is Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers. I think he can hit 15 or more home runs for Los Angeles and be a player that is the perfect flier type to pair up with an Evan Gattis. Every draft or auction is different but I think it will pay to wait at catcher.

Since only two designated hitters were taken in the Top 200 NFBC ADP’s it is not too hard to look at them. First here are their projections by Steamer and CBS:

DH Projection Chart

As much as David Ortiz can light up a room and hit home runs, power hitters do not age well. Ortiz has been defying the odds for years. I give him all the credit in the world, but with an ADP in the top 90, I think it is better to let him age on someone else’s team. It’s better to be a year early than a year too late.

Chris Carter does not always make contact, but he has hit 66 HR in 1013 AB's the last two seasons.
Chris Carter does not always make contact, but he has hit 66 HR in 1013 AB’s the last two seasons

Chris Carter will be a polarizing fantasy player since he is the prototypical three outcome kind of guy: a walk, a home run or a strike out. In fact, over his 572 plate appearances in 2014, 48% of his outcomes were one of the above. Carter hit 37 home runs, struck out 182 times and drew 56 walks. But over the second half he slashed a respectable .252/.338/.521. This was fueled by a line drive rate that he cannot maintain for a full season, but the seeds are in place for some growth. Both projections above account for a batting average in the Dunn range, but there is a chance he can hit .240 which increases his value. With the potential for 40 home runs at pick 140, I’ll gamble.

Values are likely to change as all of the sleeper lists and under the radar picks will be coming out, but having a grip on where to take a catcher helps. Don’t be that guy who grabs Posey in the second round to preserve your team’s batting average while other teams are collecting power. It is a precious commodity in fantasy baseball today.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, CBSsports.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/29PPDZ (Posey), http://goo.gl/SwH7RT (Carter)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Transaction Scripts: Jon Lester to the Cubs

Jon Lester is reunited with Theo at Wrigley but are Cubs fans and fantasy owners expecting too much?
Jon Lester is reunited with Theo at Wrigley but are Cubs fans and fantasy owners expecting too much?

Not only were prospective free agent pitchers awaiting for Jon Lester to decide where to sign, so were the fan bases of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Lester is not only the first real domino for starting pitchers, but it should be the first of many dominoes to fall as the market has been set. It has been said repeatedly in fantasy not to pay for a career year, but did the Cubs do just that? After the Oakland A’s went all in on pitching to try and win a World Series it seems forgotten that Jon Lester was not able to preserve a 7-3 lead on the road in Kansas City while giving up six earned runs in the Wild Card play-in game. The ripple effect of being traded by Boston had to have some affect upon his decision to leave Fenway:

Whether Boston blew a chance to sign Lester last is a moot point now, but for fantasy purposes, what does this do for Jon Lester moving forward? Not only was 2014 one of Lester’s most successful years as a pitcher, it had some noticeable peaks. He posted career highs in swinging strike percentage (SwStr%: 9.9), a career low in HR/FB (7.2), had his best K:BB (4.58) and had his lowest WHIP (1.1). Although Lester’s repertoire has not really changed, his percentages year to year have fluctuated.

In 2014, Lester primarily used his 93 MPH fastball (42%), his 89 MPH cutter (31%) and his 76 MPH curve (16%) while mixing in his sinker and change. His curveball generated a 40.8 whiff/swing rate according to BrooksBaseball.net and limited hitters to a batting average against of .155 for the season. Since his 3 main pitches all produce groundball per balls in play above 48% (FB-76%, Curve 52.5%, Cutter-48.1%) it is reasonable to say that Lester can keep the ball in the park at Wrigley. But Chicago is a better ballpark for hitters than Boston or Oakland was so that career low in HR/FB may not return. What will ultimately determine Jon Lester’s fantasy value going forward will be how many wins can he get with the Cubs and whether he can maintain the career low in WHIP.

First, here are Jon Lester’s career interleague numbers:

Jon Lester career interleague stats: 15 W, 29 G, 188.1 IP, 170/51 K:BB, 3.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Those are solid numbers, but not dominant by any means. What is interesting is that even though Lester is only 1 year older than Jeff Samardzija and throws with less velocity, their 3-year averages may prove worrisome in regards to Lester’s win totals:

Lester 3-year average: 13 W, 212.2 IP, 188/61 K:BB, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Samardzija 3-year average:
8 W, 202.2 IP, 199/59 K:BB, 3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

Not only that, but Samardzija has a better K/9 (8.8) than Lester (7.9) during that span. Because the Cubs were willing to deal Samardzija for another top middle infield prospect, I do not think they are done tinkering with their roster. Other than Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant, another Minor Leaguer or 2 may be on the move for another pitcher to slot in behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. On the Samardzija front, he has to be ecstatic to see what a pitcher with similar stats was able to get in free agency, especially if he pitches well in Chicago. Also, pitchers like David Price and Johnny Cueto must be motivated to hit the free agent market after 2015. Not only is Jon Lester a huge signing for the Cubs, but now Chicago may be a top draw for other free agents to follow suit in 2016.

As for Lester’s 2015 fantasy value, I think his numbers will come back down to earth some. Fangraphs Steamer projections are a good start:

Jon Lester 2015 Steamer: 13 W, 192 IP, 185/51 K:BB, 3.28 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

I agree with the bump in WHIP, especially when you consider his career number is 1.28. If Lester can use his pitches effectively and keep the ball on the ground, the WHIP should not balloon past 1.20 in the National League. His interleague K/9 is 8.1 which is in line with his career 8.2 clip, so Lester may again break the 200-strikeout barrier. I am comfortable investing in 12 wins, 220 IP, 210/60 K:BB with an ERA between 3.30-3.50. The Cubs had to pay Lester to get him, but fantasy owners do not have to overpay to have him on their staff. Welcome to Chicago Jon Lester, it will be fun to see what the next chip that Theo plays is.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/PjUC6r

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Top DFS Plays for 09/03/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Hanley Ramirez vs. Jordan Zimmerman – hitting .455 (10/22) with 2 2Bs, a HR, 6 RBIs & 2 BBs

David Ortiz vs. Hiroki Kuroda – hitting .550 (11/20) with 4 2Bs, a HR, 3 RBIs & 3 BBs

Joe Mauer vs. John Danks – hitting .393 (22/56) with 3 2Bs, 8 RBIs & 5 BBs

Jose Abreu vs. Trevor May – no previous matchup. May is letting RHH hit over .370 against him this season. Abreu is hitting over .500 in the last week. BOMB ALERT!!!!!

Ian Kinsler vs. Danny Salazar – hitting .333 (1/3) with 1 HR & 3 RBIs
Also like Miggy if you don’t use Abreu.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Jose Abreu 

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Justin Verlander vs. Cleveland Indians – I know I am crazy but JV looked good in his last outing and I look for him to follow up with another solid output today. JV always has a 3.50 ERA against the Indians in 3 starts this season.

Chris Archer vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Don’t trust JV today? Go ahead and play it safe with Chris Archer. He went 7 innings giving up only 2 run while striking out 6 in his last outing against the Jays.

Movie of the Day – Draft Day – Just coming out on Blu Ray and honestly it wasn’t that bad folks. Some parts were a bit over the top but I loved the behind the scenes of the whole draft process.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Top DFS Plays for 08/22/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Mark Teixeria vs. John Danks – hitting .533 (8/15) with 2 2Bs, a HR, 5 RBIs & a BB

Jacoby Ellsbury vs. John Danks – hitting .429 (6/14) with a 2B & a RBI

Jayson Werth vs. Tim Hudson – hitting .366 (15/41) with 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs & 5 BBs

David Ortiz vs. King Felix – hitting .324 (11/34) with a 2B, a HR, 6 RBIs & 6 BBs
Love this matchup

Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton & Chris Johnson vs. Mat Latos – All hitting above .400 against Latos as well as over .400 over the last week.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: David Ortiz  

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Robbie Ray vs. Minnesota Twins – In his only start against the Twins this season he went 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs and 2 Ks. The Twins aren’t much better than they were on 5/11 of this year and they might be worst. It’s not going to be the flashiest starts today but he will get the job done and afford you to put some big time hitters in the lineup today.

Drew Smyly vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Smyly has gone back to back games into the 7th inning as well as striking out 13 over the course of those two games. Toronto hasn’t been playing it’s best baseball and neither has the Rays but I really like Smyly and his value today.

TV Show of the Day – Modern Family – All the tops Fall Shows are just a few short weeks away from coming back and this is one of the my favorites to watch. I love catching the re-runs on the 80 millions channels they are on.

Top DFS Plays for 07/28/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Giancarlo Stanton vs. Jordan Zimmerman – hitting .292 (7/24) with a 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI and 4 walks

Anthony Rizzo vs. Yohan Flande – No matchup history. Rizzo + Flande = must start

Dan Uggla vs. Vance Worley – hitting .455 (5/11) with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 walks

Yoenis Cespedes vs. Brad Peacock – hitting .333 (3/9) with 2 HR, 5 RBI and a walk

David Ortiz vs. R.A. Dickey – hitting .333 (5/15) with 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 walks

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Giancarlo Stanton

Top DFS pitcher for today:

Yu Darvish vs. New York Yankees – 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 3 career starts against the Bombers.

TV Show of the Day: Satifaction – One of my new favorite shows. USA produces some of the best shows on TV. Just started folks, go get hooked!

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!

The Sports Script World Series Preview

The World Series stage is set between arguably two of baseball’s most historic franchises. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox both won their respective league championship series in 6 games and will meet Wednesday night for game 1. The two teams are both 97 and 65 on the year and are no stranger to facing each other in the World Series. The Red Sox swept through the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series after losing to the Cardinals in 1946 and 1967. The winner of this World Series regardless of who it will be only the third team to win 3 World Series in a 10 year span.

The Red Sox made the turn from one of baseballs worst teams last year, to the best in the American League this year. The change of managers bringing in John Farrell to lead them changed the attitude in the club house for a team that was full of turmoil last year. The attitude change Farrell brought with him as proven to be just what the Red Sox needed as they are now on top again. The Red Sox have several veteran guys like Pedroia, Ortiz, Ellsbury, Napoli and others who lead their team at the plate. They have a solid pitching staff who were 11th in ERA this year. They will need for the back-end of the rotation in Peavy and Bucholtz to pitch up their potential in this series. The Red Sox will be faced with not having the DH when they play in St. Louis which does hurt them slightly having to take Napoli or Ortiz out of the line up. The Red Sox have an incredible bullpen and they need to get the games in their hands with lead to close out games if they want to win the World Series.

The Cardinals were suppose to be rebuilding when Albert Pujols bolted in free agency two years ago. They didn’t rebuild instead they just reloaded and were a game away from being in the World Series last year after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Giants. They wouldn’t make the same mistake this year as they closed out the Dodgers in 6 and are back looking for their 2nd title in only 3 years. The Cardinals have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball coming in with the 2nd best ERA on the year. The most appealing part of that stat is most of that occurred with Michael Wacha down in the minor leagues. Wacha is no minor leaguer at this points in fact you could argue that he’s just as much an ace now as Wainwright is. The Cardinals much like the Red Sox will have to worry about what kind of pitching they will get out of Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn once they pitch Wainwright and Wacha. They get a huge boost in the batting order as it looks like Allen Craig is going to be healthy enough to DH for them in Boston after missing the later part of the year and all of the playoffs up until this point. Craig is arguably one of the best hitters in clutch situations and should be huge in the World Series if he’s able to come back anywhere close to the guy who hit over .300 this year. The Cardinals need their “aces” in Wainwright and Wacha to continue to pitch the way they have in the playoffs and if they do that in the 4 games they pitch the Cardinals have a good chance of winning the World Series.

Prediction

I’m going with the Cardinals in 7 games as I just trust their pitching staff to keep the Red Sox bats at bay.

This is going to be a fun one to watch whether you like the Cardinals, Red Sox, or are just a fan of baseball. It’s not often you see the two best teams in a sport make it to the championship, but baseball have given us that this year.

Why MLB Should Suspend Ryan Dempster for the Year.

No matter how you feel about Alex Rodriguez, what happened last night is inexcusable. Ryan Dempster not only threw at A-Rod but, even worse, on a 3-0 count. He should be suspended for the rest of the season.

Joe Girardi said it best.

“You can’t start throwing at people,” Girardi said. “Lives — people have had concussions. Lives are changed by getting hit by pitches. Whether I agree with everything that’s going on, you do not throw at people and you don’t take the law into your own hands. You don’t do that. We’re going to skip the judicial system? It’s ‘My Cousin Vinny.’ “

He is correct. No matter how you feel about throwing at a player on purpose, it is outright WRONG. Players have suffered injuries and concussions from being hit by pitches. As a pitcher, you are trusted every time you step on the mound with an object that can kill or injure someone if you hit a player in the right place.

I will not justify what A-Rod has done. He lied. He tried to cheat the game by getting an advantage by using steroids. He should face a suspension (not 211 games, but that’s for a different article for a different day) but shouldn’t have to worry about stepping up to the plate and being beamed by an 85+ mph pitch.

With reports coming out now that Dempster had spoken about how he planned to hit A-Rod when he faced him on Sunday, just shows that this was premeditated. Furthermore this shows why he should be suspended for the rest of the year.

With the sensitive issue we are dealing with, the Umpire made the wrong move by just “warning” both benches and then tossing Girardi out of the game for coming to the defense of A-Rod. Dempster should’ve been tossed considering the count was 3-0.

If baseball shows an injustice by issuing a small suspension or none at all, it will just go to show that baseball is OKAY with putting a man’s career in jeopardy at the plate. Who’s to say this won’t happen again? Who’s to say that next time the guy throws at his head? No one knows, but now with Dempster’s actions, we are here to play a game of “what if” with a player’s life.

Of course A-Rod had the ultimate redemption by hitting a solo shot off Dempster cutting the Red Sox’s led from 6-3 to 6-4. As he hit home plate, A-Rod stopped, clapped his hands together and pointed to the sky, taking a page out of David Ortiz’s book of celebrating HRs. The Yankees went on to take the lead and beat the Sox 9-6.

In the end I hope the commissioner makes the right decision and makes sure we don’t see Dempster on the mound for a while.

A.L. All Star Game Lineup

All Star Game

The latest voting numbers for the MLB All Star Game were released over the weekend and the race in the American League is certainly heating up. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is reigning supreme with 4,337,223 votes and on pace to set record numbers for overall votes. Currently Josh Hamilton holds the record for the most All Star votes received at 11,073,744 in the 2012 season. The Baltimore Orioles are making a splash with 4 position players occupying the lead in votes. In the outfield, the battle for the final spot is a close one.

1st Baseman:

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has a secure spot with 3,960,299 votes, the second most overall votes. Davis is having an impressive season leading the league with 27 homeruns, has 69 RBI’s and is batting a .336 average.  Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers follows Davis in votes with 2,579,031. Fielder has 12 homeruns, 55 RBI’s, and is batting .275.

2nd Baseman:

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is leading the voting with 3,032, 183 votes. Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox occupies the number 2 spot with 2,135,499. Cano and Pedroia have similar 2013 numbers, Cano with 44 RBI’s and a .278 average, Pedroia with 41 RBI’s and a .305 average, but the real difference comes in the power hitting. Cano has 16 homeruns on the season while Pedroia has 4. Traditionally power hitters draw the most interest from fans.

Shortstop:

While J. J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles still holds the lead in votes, Jhonny Peralta has moved ahead of Elvis Andrus in voting. The more deserving short stop is hard to decipher. Peralta has had a fantastic season thus far, batting .331 with 31 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, and only 4 errors on the year. Of Hardy and Andrus, he has the best fielding percentage. However, Hardy is a power-hitting short stop with 14 HR’s. He has 43 RBI’s and a .270 batting average. Hardy has been on a tear as of late and is the reigning Gold Glove winner. A case can be made for either. Currently, Hardy has 2,788,972 votes compared to Peralta’s 1,838,500.

3rd Baseman:

Miguel Cabrera has comfortably claimed a spot on the All Star team with Manny Machado second in voting with 2,097,804 votes. Cabrera is on pace for another career-defining season with 74 RBI’s, 20 HR’s and a .368 batting average. Machado is having a breakout year and may well be the best overall 3rd baseman in the league; however, he plays the same position as the best pure hitter in baseball. Machado has 64 RBI’s, 12 HR’s, and a .299 batting average in 2013.

Catcher:

Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins holds the starting spot at 2,788,972 votes. Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles is second with 2,068, 032 votes. Mauer should get the spot as he is having a more consistent season at the plate. Wieters has had an under-performing year, hitting .233 with 37 RBI’s and 9 HR’s, but has thrown out 48% of attempted steals. Mauer is hitting .327 with 25 RBI’s and 8 HR’s, while throwing out 40% of attempted steals.

DH:

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox claims the DH spot with 3,247,462 votes (batting .309, 16 HR’s and 55 RBI’s). Lance Berkman of the Texas Rangers is far behind with 1,519, 503 votes. Third in voting is Edwin Encarnacion (1,091,593 votes) of the Toronto Blue Jays who may be more deserving of the spot. While Berkman is hitting .260 with 33 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, Encarnacion is hitting .269 with 59 RBI’s and an impressive 20 HR’s on the year.

Outfield:

With Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels looking secure in the first and second outfield spot, 3,571, 693 and 3,548,195 respectively, there is a 3-way battle for the final spot. Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles holds a slim lead at 1,915,860 votes. Close behind him is Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays with 1,867,367, a lead of only 48,000 votes. This week’s voting update puts him ahead of Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers, who currently has 1,851,657 votes, only 16,000 behind Bautista. If Jones and Markakis both get a spot it will be the first time in Orioles franchise history that outfield teammates are selected and only the 17th time in MLB history.

Pitching:

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers has a spotless record in the 2013 season at 11-0, an impressive stat even with the support of the Tigers’ strong offensive line-up. He has also struck out 6 or more batters in each of his 15 starts, the fourth longest consecutive streak. Holding batters to a .192 average, 122 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.05, Scherzer is a worthy candidate for starting pitcher. Between Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, of the Detroit Tigers, AL Manager Jim Leyland has a plethora of options on his own roster. Other candidates for the starting position include Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. Darvish boasts an incredible 143 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .208 batting average, and has an ERA of 2.95. Buchholz has 81 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .195 batting average, with an ERA of 1.71. However, Buchholz is currently on the 15-day DL making his availability uncertain. In relief, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees should be an easy selection. Already with 26 saves in 2013, 43-year-old Rivera has 634 regular season saves as well as 4 All Star game saves. Rivera is set to retire after this season.

While securing a spot on the All Star roster is not necessarily an indication of stellar performance on the season (see Derek Jeter who managed to accumulate 819,175 votes) we are looking at a crop of the very best representing the American League.

Voting is open until July 4th. Visit MLB.com to cast your ballot.