Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Braves All-Star Selection Predictions

With less than 36 hours before fan voting for the 2011 All-Star game closes and only a few days before the player Selection Show on Sunday, I decided to take a look at the Braves chances for All-Star nods. The percentages listed after each player are my prediction/guess/shot-in-the-dark on how likely it is the respective player makes the team, not necessarily how deserving I believe they are.

Brian McCann (100%) - Not much is needed to explain here. McCann leads catchers is nearly every relevant offensive category and has been on an absolute tear in the month of June. After Buster Posey's injury earlier this year, McCann's fan vote total has been growing, nearly assuring him the starting spot.

Jair Jurrjens (90%) - There are pitchers with much better peripheral and advanced stats across the league, but I think it will be extremely difficult to leave the league-leader in ERA (2.07) and wins (tied with 10) off the All-Star staff.

Tommy Hanson (75%) - Tommy's a bit of a difficult read as it's tough to tell exactly how he's perceived around the league. What's clear is that the numbers are certainly there. Entering today, he's 4th in ERA, T-4th in wins, 6th in WHIP and 9th in strikeouts. Hanson struggled a bit in his first couple starts of the season and doesn't (yet) carry the name recognition of a Halladay or a Lee, so I wouldn't be completely shocked if he didn't make it (though a bit surprised). Much of his chances may lie with what the 'one All-Star' teams' position options are. and how many other Braves make the team.

Jonny Venters (55%) - First things first: Jonny Venters deserves to be on the All-Star team. He's arguably the best reliever in the league (if not all of MLB) this season, sitting first among his peers in games, innings pitched and third in strikeouts with a miniscule 1.26 ERA. The Braves sophomore also has yet to surrender a home run in 2011. The downside is that he's not a closer and has 'only' three saves on the season, meaning he's not the classic All-Star reliever-type pick. I think his 4 ER hiccup on 6/26 might have hurt his chances more than it really should have (how much better would a 0.56 ERA have looked?).

Craig Kimbrel (30%) - The rookie-closer is tied for second in appearances among NL relievers (41), tied for fourth in saves (22) and is blowing away the field with 63 K in 40.0 IP. He had a few shaky performances in May, but has made eight consecutive scoreless appearances. His 2.70 ERA is maybe only a bit better than average for closers, but his five blown saves likely serves as his biggest negative. It will be tough, though not impossible, for both Venters and Kimbrel to earn the nod and I think Venters is the more likely option between the two.

Chipper Jones (10%) - A month ago, maybe even a couple weeks ago, Chipper was probably an even bet to make his 7th All-Star appearance and first since 2008. But he's hit .240 in June and just .212 over the past 2 weeks. It looks like Placido Polanco will earn the fans' vote at third base, meaning the Braves veteran would have to be selected by the NL coaching staff. With Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley arguably putting up better overall seasons, only Chipper's third basemen-leading 43 RBI stand out.

Thoughts? Agreements? Objections?

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