Carlos Beltran has been the best right fielder in baseball this year. But, when casting an All-Star ballot, fandom matters. And having been witness to Beltran’s short stint in San Francisco at the end of last season, there’s no way I’m voting for the guy, let alone endorsing him.
To prove I’m not going full-on homer, though, my vote for right fielder goes to Dodgers superstar Matt Kemp. It would be justifiable to bypass Kemp, who was recently activated after spending two weeks on the disabled list. His epic start is pretty much worthy of All-Star consideration in and of itself, though.
Kemp was the most dangerous hitter in baseball before being sidelined with a hamstring injury, and that dates back to last season when he won two legs of the triple crown. He earned NL Player of the Month honors in April, and is currently hitting .355, while his 12 home runs ranks third in the NL.
So far as voting for All-Star outfielders goes, it’s essential that fans keep in mind the importance of defense. All-Star ballots don’t recognize the three individual outfield positions, which makes being astute to the defensive dynamic all the more important. Seriously, Can you imagine Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, and Jay Bruce starting in the NL outfield? No one needs to see that.
Sliding center fielders over to play a corner is certainly acceptable, especially if there is good cause. There certainly is with Kemp, whose range has been inhibited this season by the hamstring injury. He has a fair amount of experience as a right fielder, though, and more importantly, would give the NL a viable center-field option should, for example, Holliday and Bruce earn the other two nods as starting outfielders.
And, just a quick note: As mentioned in the previous All-Star write-up, I had originally penciled in Carlos Gonzalez as the starting right fielder. This, of course, was before Kemp was reactivated. Rafael Furcal still stands as my choice at short over Troy Tulowitzki, however. Sorry, Rockies. However, we may soon need to reassess the first base situation now that Joey Votto is returning to his MVP form.