All-Star site Target Field in Minnesota. Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The season is only a few weeks old, but balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Star game has already begun. Cast your vote for your favorite Padres at http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2014/ballot.jsp
Which Padres are worthy of the All-Star game? The team’s offense as a whole is off to a less-than-optimal start, but there are a few players who have played well enough early in the season to deserve some All-Star consideration.
1) Chris Denorfia – Outfield
Denorfia leads all major leaguers in “batting average with two strikes”, hitting an unbelievable .439 through Saturday’s games. The league average with two strikes is .174. Denorfia has blossomed from a platoon player into one of the Padres’ best hitters this year, racking up a .318 batting average while leading the team with five steals. Denorfia currently leads all NL right fielders in range factor. He made a lot of highlight reels last week after successfully laying down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt. After several years of toiling in relative anonymity, Deno is starting to get a little press this year, and deservedly so. While the NL outfield is probably too deep for Denorfia to be selected to the All-Star game by the fans, a few more weeks of this kind of production will almost certainly put him on the radar screen of this year’s All-Star Game for NL manager Mike Matheny.
2) Everth Cabrera – Shortstop
Cabrera was the All-Star representative for the Padres in 2013, and he is looking to repeat this year. He is off to a good start, with his 33 hits leading all National League shortstops. Over the last two years, Cabrera has developed a reputation as an elite basestealer. He led the league with 44 swipes in only 115 games in 2012 and stole 37 more in 95 games last year. He has been bothered by a sore knee since mildly injuring it on a defensive play two weeks ago, and his SB attempt rate has been lower this year than the last two. But he has stolen two bags in the last four games, so he may be ready to run again. If he gets back to his stolen base rate of the last two years, Cabrera would have 29 steals by the All-Star break. He faces some stiff competition at the position in 3-time All-Stars Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez, but if Cabrera continues to pile up hits and puts up close to 30 steals by the break, he will warrant serious consideration to make the team.
3) Andrew Cashner – Pitcher
Cashner is the Padres’ best player. The young pitcher has established himself as a legitimate ace, and is putting up the numbers this year to prove it. His ERA is a stellar 2.68, and he is among the top 20 starters in ERA, strikeouts, and opponent’s OBP and SLG. In 2/3 of his starts this year, Cashner has allowed two or fewer runs. His won-lost record of 2-3 is far more a reflection of the team’s hitting woes than any deficiency on his part. It would be nice if the team could get him a bit more run support to boost his win total. That would help Cashner to earn his rightful place on the All-Star team.
4) Huston Street – Closer
Street was the Padres’ All-Star in 2012, and is putting up the numbers again this year to get another bid. His 10 saves are tied for second in the league, and his ERA and WHIP are an absurdly good 0.82 and 0.73. He has struck out 14 hitters in 10 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .154 average. Street is among the top closers in the game, and is off to one of the best starts of his career.
Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross have also shown flashes of excellence this year, and a bit more consistency could put them into the conversation for All-Star consideration. Dale Thayer, Alex Torres, and Nick Vincent have been marvelous in the bullpen, but middle relievers are rarely considered for the All-Star game.