I’m going to be honest right off the bat here: it’s going to be incredibly difficult for A.J. Ellis to get on the National League All-Star team this year. “Merit” is usually no higher than fourth on the list of requirements, with “name value”, “positional competition”, and “number of other All-Stars on the player’s team” usually taking higher precedence – and that’s without my continued yearly assertion that the All-Star selection process is horribly flawed to the point where I usually try to ignore it entirely, much like the Gold Gloves.
All that being said, our continued love affair with what Ellis has done so far this season demands that we do whatever we can to get the previously-unloved minor-league lifer onto the National League roster that will take the field in Kansas City in July, providing a nice segment in the inevitable TV movie on his life.
The stats are impressive, even at this early stage of the season. His .454 OBP is good for fourth in all of baseball, behind only David Wright, Joey Votto & Josh Hamilton – and it was above even the ridiculous Hamilton until last night. That takes on even more importance when you remember that’s coming from a catcher, traditionally a difficult area to find offense from. Just looking at his position, his 1.7 fWAR and .407 wOBA are each among the two best from all catchers in baseball, so there’s little doubt he’s deserving. Jon Weisman, writing at ESPN/LA yesterday as though he’d looked in my drafts folder, argues that Ellis has indeed been the best catcher in the NL through the first quarter or so of 2012. Even if there’s inevitable regression coming – and believe me, there will be at some point – not bad for a 31-year-old with 244 career plate appearances entering the season, right?
But the competition at catcher in the National League is quite tough. Brian McCann & Buster Posey are unquestionably bigger names. Carlos Ruiz & Miguel Montero have been solid players for several seasons, and Jonathan Lucroy has been excellent this year as well. In St. Louis, Yadier Molina has not only the benefit of Cardinal fans who always come out for the vote, but an NL team run by his former manager, Tony LaRussa. Whether or not Ellis is more deserving isn’t even relevant; it’s whether he can overcome the relatively limited name recognition outside – and, arguably, even inside – Dodger fandom to get himself onto the team. And he’s almost certainly going to have to get voted in as a starter, because I just can’t see LaRussa looking past Molina and the other names to select the little-known Ellis as one of his two backups, especially when the Dodgers are already going to have Matt Kemp and possibly Clayton Kershaw & Andre Ethier representing them as well, in a world where each of the 16 NL clubs must have at least one player.
If Ellis is going to make it, he’s going to need votes. Today, you can help. Through June 28, you can head on over to the MLB All-Star balloting page and vote for Ellis (and any other Dodger you like) up to 25 times per email address… and who among us has just one email address? Besides, as I’ve been reminded by the wonderful commenters of this site, there’s ways around that; reportedly, you can use the same email address many times from different devices, and if you have a gmail account, well, it’s a fun fact that gmail completely ignores periods even if other sites don’t. That is, the voting process will read email@example.com differently from firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com… even if it’s all the same account.
Vote early, vote often, as they say. And don’t stop there. Spread the word as much as you can, to friends, family, whomever. Use the Twitter hashtag #AJ2KC as often as you can (hat tip to Sons of Steve Garvey for that one). Download the campaign button you see above in this post and always on the right sidebar – helpfully provided by the wonderful Stephen Caver, who designed this site – and put it on your blog, on Facebook, make it your Twitter icon, put it anywhere you can. If you’re a blogger, feel free to steal it and use it on your own site. Just make sure to link it back either to this post or to the MLB.com voting page directly.
Do it for OBP. Do it because it’s always, always funny to mess with the All-Star voting. But most of all, do it for A.J. Vote now. Now!