July 5, 2004

Vote 4 Lew?

I write an awful lot about the Twins, both here and at The Hardball Times, and so a lot of people accuse me of being a "homer." Actually though, I think of myself as the opposite of a homer, whatever that might be.

As I've said before, I am such a pessimist when it comes to the Twins that I typically expect them to lose rather than win, and I almost always criticize their players rather than pump them up. See the "Shannon Stewart for MVP" debate from last year for a good example of this.

Here's another example of me not being a homer: Lew Ford is one of five American League players in the "Final Vote" contest over at MLB.com to determine the final member of the AL All-Star team. I know tons of Twins fans have been stuffing the electronic ballot box with votes for Lew, but I wouldn't vote for him. I just don't think he's deserving, regardless of what team he plays for.

Here's how Ford compares to the other eligible players ...

                     AVG      OBP      SLG      GPA     VORP

Frank Thomas .274 .436 .570 .339 37.2
Travis Hafner .306 .407 .520 .313 32.0
Paul Konerko .280 .368 .545 .302 27.6
Lew Ford .317 .382 .490 .294 24.0
Hideki Matsui .279 .381 .490 .294 23.3

Now, it's possible you could make the case that Ford's defense is good enough to move him up a spot or two, ahead of maybe Paul Konerko or even Travis Hafner, but I don't think he's good enough (or plays an important enough defensive position) to move into Frank Thomas' territory.

According to VORP, which judges players against others at their position, Thomas has been worth about 55% more than Ford on offense this year. That's just an awful lot of room for a leftfielder to make up on defense, even if he's going up against a designated hitter.

Plus, as I've said in the past, I'm a big believer in the All-Star game being for players who have established track records of excellence. Ford, although he has done very well in both his stints in the majors, still has just 363 career at-bats. Meanwhile, Frank Thomas is one of the best hitters of his generation, and has been putting up huge numbers for 15 years.

With that said, I have no problem with Twins fans (or anyone else) voting as many times as they want for Lew Ford. He may not be the most deserving, but he's still not totally undeserving, and his making the team might make up for the fact that, because of a weird set of circumstances, he's ineligible for the Rookie of the Year award this season.

With that said, I have a favor to ask of all the Twins fans who are placing all these votes for Lew Ford. While voting for Ford in the AL, take a moment to vote for Bobby Abreu in the NL. Think of it as a personal favor to me (and Bobby Abreu too, I guess).

If you need further convincing that a vote for Abreu is the right thing, read this ...

The Hardball Times: Rock the Vote

Today's picks:

Cincinnati (Acevedo) +175 over St. Louis (Morris)

Arizona (Fossum) +140 over Los Angeles (Lima)

Colorado (Stark) +260 over San Francisco (Schmidt)

Total to date: -$2,405

W/L record: 120-156 (0-2 yesterday for -215.)

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