The Rockies are not going to contend in 2016.
FanGraphs projects them to go 74-88 next year and be worth 26 WAR, making them among the five worst teams in the Major Leagues. It would take a lot for Colorado to contend next year, but in all reality, it won't happen.
But are the Rockies truly "rebuilding?"
One word that has been thrown around baseball far too much is the word "tanking." Analysts have pointed fingers at the Phillies, Braves, Reds, Brewers, and Rockies for purposely losing in order to get better draft picks.
Whether tanking truly exists in the Majors is a separate issue. I'm not sure, however, that the Rockies are even in a rebuilding stage. This is even considering that the team has not been to the playoffs since 2009 and has not been over .500 since 2010.
The Rockies traded star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, but have been reluctant to do anything significant since.
Pricey veterans such as Carlos Gonzalez and cheaper up-and-comers such as Charlie Blackmon are still on the roster. The team just signed Gerardo Parra to a three-year deal. Now, with Corey Dickerson in the fold too, they have four starting caliber outfielders.
Today, a rumor circulated that the Rockies were interested in dealing Dickerson to the Rays. Back-end relief pitcher Jake McGee was mentioned as a possible target for them. That makes me wonder why the Rockies would even want a good closer, even though it is considered a premium for a team likely out of contention.
The Phillies understood this. They dealt Ken Giles to the Astros this offseason for a good package that included former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel.
It is hard for me to comprehend what the Rockies are trying to do. Their rotation is shaky and their lineup has holes. Yet, they want something that lots of teams that have good, contending teams want. So do they really view themselves as rebuilders?
The Colorado Rockies are not contenders. The Colorado Rockies are not rebuilders. Who are the Colorado Rockies?
Using Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds, you should be able to tell who has the best chance of doing just that. Teams really should take those odds to determine whether they should be buyers and sellers because more often than not, they are right.
After games being played on July 6 last year, five of the ten eventual postseason teams had a 80 percent chance of making the playoffs or better. Every team that did have an 80 percent or greater chance of making the playoffs on this date last year did.
The team with the highest percent chance to make the playoffs on July 6 that ultimately didn't was the Milwaukee Brewers, who had a 71 percent chance to punch their ticket, but collapsed down the stretch and failed to make it.
Only three (Orioles, Royals, and Pirates) had less than a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs following action on July 6. By July 31, the Orioles were up to a 71 percent chance, the Royals were at a 17 percent chance, and the Pirates were at a 46 percent chance.
Knowing this, I will use Baseball Prospectus' current postseason predictions to determine who should buy and who should sell at the 2015 Trade Deadline.
All In (85% or greater)
St. Louis Cardinals (99.3%)
There's no reason why the Cardinals, who own MLB's best record at 54-28, should consider selling. In fact, Baseball Prospectus says that they have a 99.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, leaving just a very small chance for an extreme collapse. If the Cardinals play just .500 ball the rest of the way, that would put them on pace for 94 wins, which would definitely put them in prime position to punch their ticket to the postseason. The Cardinals have no reason to do anything but buy.
Los Angeles Dodgers (92.9%)
The Dodgers have the second-highest playoff percentage in the league, and nothing suggests that this team won't buy at the trade deadline. I predicted them to go out and get Johnny Cueto, perhaps the best pitcher available not named Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are always willing to spend money and prospects to make their team better and can easily justify doing so at the deadline.
Washington Nationals (85.6%)
The Nationals have arguably not played their best baseball yet, but still have an 85.6 percent chance to make the playoffs. They could use some reinforcements in their bullpen, but most of the additions the Nationals will be getting will be players coming back from injury, such as Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg. They may not need to make a ton of moves in July, but if they do, they have good reason to do so.
Houston Astros (84.7%)
The Astros have already shown interest in some of the top pitchers that will be available, and Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds completely backs that up. Houston's playoff percentage, at 84.7 percent, is so close to 85 percent that I had to shove them into this category. The Astros have showed that while they are a bit of a surprise, they still can win ballgames and do it over a period of time. The Astros by no means are "pretenders," as they have been able to hold a comfortable AL West lead since late April.
Should be buyers (70-85%)
Pittsburgh Pirates (81.3%), Chicago Cubs (73.1%)
The Pirates and Cubs have a case of some serious bad luck. They are playing in the National League's toughest division and would be either leading or close to leading any other division in the league. The only reason I'm wary of either of these teams buying at the deadline is because they are not division leaders and have more of a chance to collapse and fall out of the playoff race altogether. Unless they believe they have a real shot at the Cardinals (which it appears they don't), they shouldn't completely unload their farm systems to go out and get the best guy on the market.
Kansas City Royals (75.3%)
Of the three teams in this category, I am most comfortable with the Royals buying at the trade deadline due to the fact that they lead their division by a comfortable margin and need just one or two pieces to really put the pressure on the rest of the division. All signs point to the Royals making the playoffs again this year, so I would go ahead and pencil them in as buyers at the deadline.
Los Angeles Angels (64.8%)
The Angels are in a good position right now. They are playing good baseball and have shown the need for an upgrade in left field. Of the teams listed in this section, I truly believe they are the best and most complete team, so therefore they should be buyers at the deadline. The Angels could use some rotation help as well, but if they patch up a few spots, they will get into the postseason. My verdict? They should be buyers.
AL East: New York Yankees (59.4%), Toronto Blue Jays (39.6%), Tampa Bay Rays (34.9%)
The American League East division is lumped together because the division is so muddled and close that really anyone could win it. Baseball Prospectus' simulations give the Yankees the best chance to go to the playoffs out of that division, but with some rotation help, the Blue Jays are the division's best team. The Yankees and Rays should stand pat or make small moves at the deadline, while the Blue Jays should go out and make a splash for a rotation piece.
Detroit Tigers (36.7%)
With Miguel Cabrera being sidelined with his hamstring injury, I'm going to pencil the Tigers in as should be sellers, but as this team continues to try and make a run once again, they will find themselves trying to buy. The Tigers are heading towards a Phillies-esque fall, and if they don't realize that soon, it could only get worse if they decide to buy at the trade deadline in hopes for one last run at the World Series.
Maybe/Stand Pat (20-30%)
New York Mets (28.9%)
Even if the Mets added an offensive piece, I don't think that would be enough to get them to the playoffs this season. With that said, however, I could see them dealing for a guy with more than one season of control, as their young and talented pitching staff comes into their own. The Mets couldn't justify buying for a rental player, but a guy who is at least signed through 2016 could make sense.
Baltimore Orioles (28.7%)
The Baltimore Orioles have a ton of free agents at the end of the season that they probably should move. The Orioles could be one of those teams that tries to get 25-man roster guys with more years of team control in return. The Orioles could be a team that buys and sells at the trade deadline, and I would be fine with that.
San Francisco Giants (22.9%)
It's an odd year. The Giants aren't good enough to win the NL West, and considering that they have to deal with the Cubs and Pirates for the Wild Card, it will be tough for them to really make a run into the postseason. However, they still have a good core group of guys and the team has proved me wrong before. They probably should stand pat.
Shouldn't buy (Less than 20%)
Minnesota Twins (18.2%)
The Twins just aren't that good. Sure, they had a good run earlier this season, but all the numbers suggest that they were going to fall out of first in the AL Central. The Twins should really try and go for 2016, when some of their rookies will be more polished.
Texas Rangers (15.0%)
While the Rangers shouldn't buy, they probably will, as I consider them to be in a similar boat as the Tigers are in. The Rangers could legitimately contend, but they would more than a couple of upgrades, to the point where they probably shouldn't go for it this season.
Cleveland Indians (13.5%)
The Indians were a popular postseason pick prior to this season, but Baseball Prospectus' simulations show that they would need some serious luck to actually get there. The Indians shouldn't sell any pieces other than the impending free agents because my gut says that they will be back in the postseason sooner than later.
Boston Red Sox (11.8%)
The Red Sox are in a tough position right now. It might not be time for a fire sale quite yet, but it's definitely not time to go out and try and contend this season.
Seattle Mariners (7.0%)
The Mariners have had some issues staying in the race this season, and while they shouldn't sell off their entire team, they really shouldn't be buyers either.
Oakland Athletics (6.8%)
The Athletics are already shopping their pieces and it looks like they will be sellers.
Arizona Diamondbacks (6.4%)
The Diamondbacks are a team that should stand pat. They still have pieces to contend in the near future and as their pitching improves with guys coming back from injury, they could be a legitimate contender coming 2016.
Atlanta Braves (3.8%)
The Braves, especially in the offseason, have committed to becoming a selling team. They don't have any exciting pieces, but even though they have kind of surprised, they should by no means buy.
Chicago White Sox (3.2%)
The White Sox are in a tough position. They reportedly won't have a fire sale, which makes sense considering how much money they spent in free agency, but they need to get rid of Jeff Samardzija and still be planning to try again in 2016.
San Diego Padres (2.7%)
The Padres could buy at the deadline, but in all reality, they shouldn't. They've got some important games coming up that they need to win if people start seriously seeing them as contenders. Once again, they are proving that the winners of the offseason don't necessarily win during the season.
Miami Marlins (1.6%)
The Marlins shouldn't go into a fire sale, but Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Brad Hand, and other free agents at the end of the season should be gone.
Cincinnati Reds (1.1%)
The Reds have Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and possibly Aroldis Chapman available, and while they won't sell until after they host the All-Star Game, I expect it to come, as it should.
Colorado Rockies (0.2%)
I'd pull the trigger and deal Troy Tulowitzki. It's time for a real change in Colorado if they want to be relevant down the road.
Milwaukee Brewers (0.2%)
The Brewers should enter into a fire sale.
Philadelphia Phillies (0.0%)
Now, these rankings and categories don't mean that each of these teams will do as I advise. Their postseason percentages could change and perhaps an addition is all they need to do that. However, Baseball Prospectus' odds are very accurate and should not be taken lightly. Teams really should use them to determine whether they could justify buying at the deadline.
With the seventh pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, the Colorado Rockies selected a shortstop out of California State University Long Beach. His name was Troy Tulowitzki.
Known as "Tulo," Tulowitzki made his big league debut on August 30, 2006 with Colorado, at age 21. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tulowitzki has gone on to play in 961 games with the Rockies, recording 1,068 hits, 176 home runs, and four All-Star appearances, all while being a cornerstone in their lineup and also being known around the league as one of the better shortstops in baseball.
With rumors swirling of a possible trade of Tulowitzki, it is finally time for the Rockies to part ways with the shortstop this offseason. Because if they do not, it could really be a detriment to their team down the road, one that other teams, such as the Phillies, are starting to feel already.
Tulowitzki is locked up for the next six seasons on a $118 million deal. He is scheduled to make $20 million from 2015 to 2019, while deescalating his salary to "only" $14 million in 2020. This is the contract for a player that last made 600 plate appearances in 2011, for just the third time in his career.
When on the field, Troy Tulowitzki is fun to watch. Really fun. In 375 plate appearances this past season, "Tulo" had 107 hits, 18 doubles, a triple, 21 homers, and 52 runs batted in. That's in 91 games, ten more than half a season. Tulowitzki posted a 171 OPS+, the best in his nine year career.
But the injuries have kept Tulowitzki from being the stud that he is when on the field. He tore a labrum this past season, going under the knife for a second time in his career. And that isn't it. From 2012 through this past season, Tulowitzki missed 213 of 486 games due to injury (via Baseball Prospectus). In the past three seasons, 43.8 percent of the Rockies games have been without Tulowitzki due to injury.
It's time for the Rockies to make Tulowitzki's someone else's problem and deal him. The Yankees and Mets have reportedly been interested in acquiring Tulowitzki from the Rockies. Neither, however, have been able to divy-up the elite-level prospects that Rockies ownership has wanted for him.
The Rockies need to take what they can get for him. While playing in Denver is not good for his health, who's to say he would be a 100 percent healthy Tulowitzki somewhere else? The Rockies have been reluctant to give any team even the slightest bit of a discount due to his injury history.
The fact of the matter is, the Rockies are not contending within the next couple of seasons. If they can trade Tulowitzki at 75-85 percent of what he would be worth healthy, that would still get them a very nice package, one that would improve their farm system immensely, and almost immediately. They don't have to sell Tulowitzki at healthy price. And I'm not sure they have realized that.
A trade of Tulowitzki would not only help the Rockies. It would help Tulowitzki himself. Moving out of that Denver air, Tulowitzki would be able to play more games, condition at a higher level, and might just be able to have continued success for a lengthier amount of time. He wants to play for a winner, and the Mets, for one, are a lot closer to that than the Rockies are.
Taking a look at all the factors, a trade of Troy Tulowitzki is the right move. The young shortstop taken in that 2005 draft finally has to get out of Denver. And that should come this offseason.
Boy, has this season gone by fast. It feels like just yesterday the Boston Red Sox were hoisting the 2013 World Series trophy, and everyone else was waiting for the season to start again. It feels like just yesterday that Opening Day was here and that the teams were back on the field to start a new season with a clean slate. But this first half of the season has gone by fast. Really fast. Now we are at the All-Star break, and it is time to give out some "first-half awards," talk about some surprise teams, and just recap what went on during this fantastic first half of the 2014 season.
National League Awards:
MVP: Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Jonathan Lucroy has been the best player in the National League this season. He's more valuable to the Brewers than Troy Tulowitzki is to the Rockies. It is not only his offense that is near the top of the National League, but his handling of the Brewers pitching staff is arguably just as good as Yadier Molina's handling of the Cardinals pitching staff. While Lucroy's 3.7 WAR is tied for fifth in the National League and his OPS ranks 9th. So far on the season, Lucroy is batting .315/.385/.494 with nine homers and 44 runs batted in. Those are MVP worthy numbers on any level.
Honorable Mentions: Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, and Giancarlo Stanton
Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Only two rookies, Hamilton and Chris Owings, have WARs above one. While Owings has had a good season, Hamilton has been more impressive. He's hitting a slash line of .285/.319/.423 with 38 stolen bases, which ranks second in the National League to only Dee Gordon, who has an astounding 43 stolen bases. Hamilton's 4.7 percent walk rate is not great, but he is getting on-base on a fine rate. One other plus to Hamilton's game is his defense; he boasts a 9 defensive runs saved this season and a 23 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) prorated to 150 games. Hamilton's case is better than anyone else's.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Owings and Tommy La Stella
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
A no-hitter, a 40+ innings scoreless streak, and a sub-2 ERA. That's enough to be not only a Cy Young award winner, but also MVP. On the season, Clayton Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA and a 1.60 FIP in 96.1 innings pitched. Kershaw leads all National League pitchers with a 3.7 WAR, 1.72 xFIP, and ranks third in the National League in left-on-base percentage with an 83.6 mark. Kershaw also has a 126 to 13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In terms of FIP, Kershaw is having the greatest seasons of his career. The Dodgers are fantastic in his starts, as they are 11-3 when Kershaw is on the hill.
Honorable Mentions: Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg
Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke, MGR, Milwaukee Brewers
Ron Roenicke has dealt with the issues surrounding Jean Segura quite well. Not to mention, he took the Brewers, a team that was supposed to be around the bottom of the National League Central, into contention, with one of the hottest starts of the season. While they have cooled off greatly, they still are playing very good baseball, which has to come back to the managerial experience of Roenicke. Not to mention, Roenicke has challenged 14 calls this season, and nine were overturned, for an astounding 64.2% success rate. His work for the Brewers has taken them far and could take them further.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Williams and Bryan Price
The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is almost here. With only 17 days to the All-Star Game, I have decided to vote for the National and American Leagues' squads. Without further ado, here are my 2014 MLB All-Star Game rosters and why I have selected them.
First Base -- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt is the best first baseman in the National League. He leads National League first baseman with an .918 OPS, helped by his fourth-highest on-base percentage and the league-lead slugging percentage. Goldschmidt, known as "Goldy," has the highest WAR of any National League first baseman with a 3.0 mark and has posted a 149 wRC+, good for fourth. Not to mention, he is a class act off the field, as he spent a good ten minutes talking baseball with me when I ran into him in New York last year.
Second Base -- Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley is enduring one of his best seasons in a long time, and deserves an All-Star appearance to cap it off. His batting average, which was over .300 on June 21, has dipped to .295, but Utley's stats are too good to not net him his sixth All-Star selection. Utley leads all National League second baseman with a 2.6 WAR, has hit a third-highest six home runs, posted the third-highest wRC+, and has the second lowest strikeout percentage. The Phillies second baseman is playing as well as anybody.
Shortstop -- Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
This one is a no-brainer. Tulowitzki has been the first-half's National League MVP, if there was such an award. Forget where he stands against the National League shortstops, Tulowitzki has the highest batting average in the major leagues. His OPS is just as good, as his 1.060 mark leads everyone. Even with the Coors Field effect, Tulowitzki's OPS+ (which is known to take the ballpark effects out of a player) ranks behind only Mike Trout, posting a 176 mark. If Tulowitzki is not voted in as shortstop in the National League, I have no idea why.
Third Base -- Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Todd Frazier is the best third baseman in the National League. His .284 (5th among NL third baseman)/.350 (4th)/.508 (1st) slash line might not be the best of National League third baseman, but Frazier has done enough to make him worthy of an All-Star nod. How can the leader in National League OPS of third baseman not crack the top five in the voting (as of June 23)? Frazier's strikeout rate is extremely high, but he still has provided the most WAR of any third baseman in the NL and has the highest wRC+. Vote Todd Frazier to the All-Star Game.
Catcher -- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
I have really enjoyed watching Lucroy tear up any pitching this season. This season, Lucroy has been the best catcher in the National League, hands down. He has a 3.7 WAR (1st among NL catchers) and a 156 wRC+ (1st). His defense is highly underrated. While he might not be Yadier Molina behind the plate, Lucroy has been absolutely invaluable to Brewers' pitching. His .336 batting average alone should be enough to earn him All-Star status, but for good measure he also leads all NL catchers in on-base percentage, and is second to only Evan Gattis in slugging percentage.
Outfield -- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the best in the National League. There is no doubt in my mind. Besides his fantastic power numbers (21 home runs, .596 slugging percentage; both first among National League outfielders), Stanton is a very underrated all around hitter. His .316 batting average is also tops among NL outfielders, and his on-base percentage is only behind Andrew McCutchen. He actually plays average defense and his overall WAR ranks first in the National League. As of the last update, Stanton ranked fourth among outfielders. That is unacceptable.
Outfield -- Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
Carlos Gomez is another class act off the field. While he has started some scuffles on the field, I truly believe that is because he is passionate about his job and what he does. Gomez reads my website, and has followed me on Twitter for a long time. Not to mention, he is on my fantasy team. Before bias takes the best of me, look at Gomez's numbers. They are definitely All-Star caliber. He has a .310/.375/.525 triple-slash line, while posting the second-highest WAR, behind only Giancarlo Stanton, among National League outfielders. Gomez is a very good defender and is the cornerstone in the Milwaukee Brewers offense. He is as deserving as anyone for an All-Star appearance.
Outfield -- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen continues to provide MVP-type numbers in Pittsburgh. His .943 OPS is second among NL outfielders, along with his 167 wRC+. His WAR is good for third, but his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating; measures how many runs a player is worth on defense) on defense ranks second to last. That could be what really hurts McCutchen's stock and might make the fans choose Yasiel Puig, but I am still a fan of what McCutchen brings to the table every day, and what he has brought to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a whole. Nearly single-handedly, he has turned them into a winning organization, which I absolutely applaud.
First Base -- Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
How hard is it to come from a foreign country to the United States and then thrown into a game where as many as 40,000 fans show up to watch you play? That has been the story of Jose Abreu, who has taken the majors by storm. Abreu, 27, was given $68 million to come to the United States and play for the Chicago White Sox and already he has paid dividends. Abreu, even after sitting on the DL for some time, leads the American League (not just first baseman) with 25 home runs and is fourth with a .959 OPS (second among AL first baseman). He strikes out a lot, but as long as he keeps his power numbers high and continues to get on base, there is nobody more deserving than Abreu.
Second Base -- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Jose Altuve has the most hits in the major leagues, with 113. He is behind only Troy Tulowitzki in batting average, but leads all American Leaguers with a .343 mark. The 5'6" Altuve does not provide top-notch power numbers, as he has only homered twice, but, according to Moneyball, what is most important of any major leaguer? To get on base. With a .383 on-base percentage, Altuve does exactly that. He also leads the American League in stolen bases with 34 to cap it off. Since being signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, Altuve has, and will be, the leader on the Astros.
Shortstop -- Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Just because Derek Jeter is retiring this season does not automatically make him an All-Star. He is batting just .272/.329/.330 this season. Alexei Ramirez, without Jeter in the running, would be the starting shortstop for the American League team, which is why I am voting for him. He has a .295 (1st among AL shortstops)/.327 (4th)/.422 (1st) slash line with eight home runs and 39 RBI. While Jeter has barely stretched 0.5 in the WAR department (he has a 0.6), Ramirez is second in the pack with a 2.0 WAR. Of deserving shortstops for the All-Star Game, Ramirez is number one.
Third Base -- Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
I am so happy that Donaldson has a sizable lead for the All-Star Game. As I wrote not too long ago, Donaldson is the most underrated player in baseball, let alone American League third baseman. He has a good lead in nearly every metric of American League third baseman, including a 3.6 WAR. His wRC+ ranks third at 125. His defense, however, may be his most underrated of all his attributes. His UZR is 11.8, which ranks first over Manny Machado by 7.6 points! That is just, well, fantastic. Donaldson is the best third baseman in the American League, if not in the major leagues.
Catcher -- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
If Matt Wieters was not hurt, he would be my selection here. But he is, and I believe that Salvador Perez is the best all-around catcher in the American League. His combination of offense and defense is excellent, all while helping to lead the Royals into second place in the American League Central. He has posted a .785 OPS, which ranks third among AL catchers. His 117 wRC+ also ranks third. But it is his defense that truly separates himself. In the overall defense metric, Perez ranks above Yadier Molina for first in the major leagues. That is what sets him apart and what gives him the nod at starting catcher in the American League.
Designated Hitter -- Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
People love the power that Nelson Cruz supplies, but how is Martinez third in the AL designated hitter voting? While Cruz has homered 25 times, Martinez is a close second, with 20 bombs. He also has a .323/.383/.592 triple slash line, which he ranks first in all three categories. Martinez has one of the lowest strikeout percentages in the major leagues, behind only Jose Altuve. He has a 160 wRC+, nine points better than Neslon Cruz's 151. With all these fantastic stats, why is Martinez not leading the voting? Vote for him now and put him as the starting designated hitter.
Outfield -- Mike Trout, Los Angles Angels of Anaheim
Mike Trout is the best outfielder in all of baseball. That's enough said. Regardless, I will continue with the stats. He is atop all outfielders with 18 homers and leads them with a .611 slugging percentage. He is second in both on-base percentage and batting average, but is nearly an entire WAR point ahead of second place Alex Gordon. He also leads all American League outfielders with a 182 wRC+. Trout does not really need a description to show why he is an All-Star, he does that enough on all the highlight reels we see on MLB.com and on ESPN. Trout is a fantastic player and deserves to go to his third consecutive All-Star game.
Outfield -- Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Most people think of Jose Bautista as the guy that homered 54 times back in 2010, but he has completely evolved his game since. He still has power (Bautista has homered 18 times this season thus far.), but Bautista gets on base a lot more than he did, posting an AL-leading .433 on-base percentage. How did he do it? He has brought his strikeout percentage down and his walk percentage up. In 2010, Bautista stuck out in 17% of his plate appearances and walked in just 14.6%. Now, they have practically reversed roles, as he walks in 17.5% of his plate appearances and strikes out in 14.2%. Bautista continues to make adjustments, making himself a better hitter. That is a true All-Star.
Outfield -- Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Cespedes' throw of the year sold me for voting for him. Cespedes' UZR ranks 11th in the American League with a 2.7 mark, but his ARM (runs saved via a throw) ranks second with a 6.3 mark. And that is just his defense. Cespedes is one of the primer power hitters in the American League, showing us what he could do in the Home Run Derby last year. Cespedes has 14 home runs this season, which ranks seventh in the AL among outfielders and has a .502 slugging percentage which ranks sixth. His OPS of .827 is also sixth. Cespedes is one of the best pure power hitters in the American League and deserves his first ever All-Star nod.