Which NL hitter deserves the fan vote for the 2014 All-Star Game?


(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Fans can vote one of the following National League hitters to be in the 85th All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota:

  • First baseman Justin Morneau of the Rockies
  • Second baseman Anthony Rendon of the Nationals
  • First baseman Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee of the Marlins
  • Left fielder Justin Upton of the Braves

McGehee has a 13-game hitting streak but is perhaps the weakest hitter and baserunner of the group. His Weighted Runs Created Plus, which is park and league-adjusted, is 120 (meaning 20 percent better than league average) while the value he adds to the Marlins via base running is negative (minus-0.6).

Morneau trails only Giancarlo Stanton in RBI (59 vs. 62) and has the batting average of an all-star (.314) but he hacks away at the plate (swings at 41.9 percent of pitches outside the strike zone).

Morneauswing

Plus, Morneau has the second worst wRC+ of the bunch (125) after adjusting for the friendly confines of Coors Field. He is also a liability on the base paths (minus-1.4).

Upton is tied for third in the senior circuit for homers (17) and has benefited form a higher than normal batting average on balls in play despite driving the ball less (19.3 percent of batted balls are line drives). However, he is hitting with more power than last season (average flyball distance of 302 feet vs. 285 last season) which corresponds to a higher flyball-to-home run ratio (19.8 percent). But, he also strikes out a ton (28.1 percent of plate appearances).


2014 Season Home Runs for Justin Upton (Source: ESPN)

Rizzo leads all NL first basemen in homers (17) and walks (50) plus his wins above replacement is second best among NL first basemen (2.4), behind only Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (3.7), who is starting in the All-star game. Rizzo also has the highest wRC+ of the group (140) as well as the highest weighted on-base percentage (.380), which combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. He also shows a high amount of plate discipline, swinging at just 28.2 of pitches outside the strike zone.

Rendon is one of the best base runners in the game (3.8 BSR, tied for seventh best in NL) and is a slick fielder, making six of nine “unlikely” plays at third base, as classified by Inside Edge. He can hit too, posting a 3.2 WAR to go along with a .286 batting average, .343 on-base percentage and .489 slugging plus power to all fields (12 home runs, 67 extra base hits) and speed (eight steals).

Rendon

Couple that with tremendous plate discipline (swings at 23.7 percent of pitches outside the zone but makes contact with 93.8 percent of pitches in the zone) plus the ability to also play second base and #VoteRendon is the fan’s best choice for the final spot on the all-star team.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · July 6