2012 MLB All Star Starters by WAR

2013 MLB All Star voting is upon us and before the results are in and the rosters are set I thought I would look back at last year and see how optimal the starting lineups were. I compared the 2012 All Star starters to their potential replacements based on Wins Above Replacement for the first half of the 2012 season. While there are certainly flaws with the current All Star team selection process I’m not actually suggesting it be determined by WAR, but it is a good tool to see how far from optimal the process is.


NL Starter NL WAR NL WAR Leader Leader WAR Diff AL Starter AL WAR AL WAR Leader Leader WAR Diff
C Buster Posey 2.6 Carlos Ruiz 4.2 1.6 Mike Napoli 0.9 Joe Mauer 2.5 1.6
1B Joey Votto 4.7 Joey Votto 4.7 0 Prince Fielder 1.8 Edwin Encarnacion 2.5 0.7
2B Dan Uggla 1.9 Aaron Hill 2.5 0.6 Robinson Cano 4.3 Robinson Cano 4.3 0
3B Pablo Sandoval 1.7 David Wright 5.3 3.6 Adrian Beltre 2.9 Miguel Cabrera 3 0.1
SS Rafael Furcal 0.9 Jimmy Rollins 2.1 1.2 Derek Jeter 1.3 Ben Zobrist 2.8 1.5
OF Melky Cabrera 3.2 Michael Bourn 4.3 1.1 Josh Hamilton 3.2 Austin Jackson 3.5 0.3
OF Ryan Braun 4 Ryan Braun 4 0 Jose Bautista 3 Josh Reddick 3.8 0.8
OF Carlos Beltran 2.8 Andrew McCutchen 4.5 1.7 Curtis Granderson 1.9 Mike Trout 4.5 2.6
DH Carlos Gonzalez 2.6 2.6 0 David Ortiz 2.5 David Ortiz 2.5 0
P Matt Cain 2.5 Zack Greinke 3.4 0.9 Justin Verlander 3.9 Justin Verlander 3.9 0
 TOTALS 26.9 37.6 10.7 25.7 33.3 7.6


I’ll give the benefit of the doubt for Carlos Gonzalez as designated  hitter since WAR isn’t really applicable for a National League DH. Most of the potential replacements were on the roster and probably got playing time so starting wasn’t essential, but the names in bold weren’t even voted onto the All Star roster. The American League was much closer to their optimal starting lineup but still lost the game 8-0. The biggest WAR mis-votes were Pablo Sandoval for the National League and Curtis Granderson for the American League. There was certainly some ballot stuffing for Sandoval, leading to this comment from David Wright’s GM:

ASG election of "Kung Fu Panda" shows the value of a cute nickname. Suprised Giants fans didn't elect a "ball due" to start at 3B.Wright was at least on the roster unlike Austin Jackson and Josh Reddick who could have replaced Granderson for the American League.

Based on WAR only five players rightfully started. Joey Votto and Ryan Braun for the National League. Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, and Justin Verlander for the American League. Verlander had the highest WAR for any MLB pitcher for the first half of 2012 but gave up five runs in the first inning of the game, including a 3-RBI triple to WAR-loser Pablo Sandoval.

Like I said, WAR shouldn’t be the determining factor for All Star rosters. The current system favors popular, exciting, and veteran players and I don’t think that is a bad thing. Stats aside, the point is Yasiel Puig should not play in the All Star game this year.

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