By FRANK WARD
With the voting for the 81st MLB All-Star game in the final stages, and the Phillies offensive leaders in the midst of an unthinkable power outage, the red pinstripes may not be as well represented on July 13 in Anaheim as you would have thought.
Just three weeks ago, the Phillies had five guys in starting spots. Today, that number sits at two — second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco.
Utley leads all second baseman by nearly 1.1 million votes and trails Albert Pujols by roughly 100,000 for top NL vote-getter. He’s going, even if he doesn’t deserve it. Sure, he had a hell of a weekend going 6-for-14 with a home run and seven RBI. But, he’s still hitting just .267. Reputation alone gets him to All-Star weekend, but lets’ face it. He doesn’t deserve it this year based on his average. The Braves Martin Prado and his league-leading .339 average and six homers deserves to start.
Polanco has clearly earned his spot with his .313 average and .977 fielding percentage. A case could be made for Scott Rolen and his .301 average and 14 home runs. But, with a 200,000 vote lead over the Mets David Wright and two fan bases — Philly and Detroit — voting for him, Polanco will be in Anaheim.
After those two, the voting is not in the favor of Phillies players. Jimmy Rollins trails Hanley Ramirez by around 200,000 votes. Not bad for a guy who’s played just 11 games this year. Still, don’t expect Rollins to overtake Ramirez no matter how much of a jackass and clubhouse cancer the Marlins shortstop is. And, with such a small body of work to base him on, Rollins himself would admit he isn’t an All-Star this season.
Ryan Howard is one who always gets consideration, but the logjam of quality first baseman could have him on the outside looking in. Pujols will get the starting bid and he should. Howard ranks sixth among first baseman with a .290 average. His power numbers usually sets him apart. However, his 14 home runs is equaled to or less than three guys ahead of him (Pujols, Abrey huff and Adrien Gonzalez). He does lead first baseman with 51 RBI, good for fourth in the league. Does that do enough to put Howard over the other quality first baseman who lead in average and homers?
Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino also led after the first round of voting. Both have slipped and they now sit at fourth and fifth, respectively. Both are within striking distance, but neither really deserves to be there. Werth’s .278 average makes him questionable, while Victorino’s .247 average will have him on a Hawaiian holiday.
Werth has 12 homers, good for fourth among NL outfielders, and 43 RBI, fourth at his position. His average though is tied for tenth among outfielders. That’s just not going to get him there.
The only other Phillie who will get consideration is Roy Halladay. He’ll be there. How can a guy with five complete games in 15 starts and a 2.43 ERA not be there. Oh, and he has three shut outs including a perfect game. His 8-6 record is an aberration. If the Phils had not slumped, he’d easily have 10 or 11 wins already. he’s lost two 2-1 decisions this year.
So, while visions of a Yankee or Red Sox All-Star representation for the Phillies clearly excited South Philly, the fact is it isn’t, nor should it, happen this year.
Polanco and Halladay deserve to go. Howard will likely go as the NL’s DH if Charlie Manuel has his way. After that, be happy for any additions Manuel is able to justify.