All-Star C: Vote Carlos Ruiz

            Three years ago, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel screwed the Giants by overlooking left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt for the 2009 All-Star squad. But, Giants fans need to take the high road this year by doing the right thing and voting for Carlos Ruiz as the starting catcher for the National League.

            After all, Affeldt got his revenge. After posting one of the best seasons of any reliever in 2009 – with a 1.73 ERA in 74 appearances, including a remarkable 1.32 ERA in the first half of the season – Affeldt was left off the NL All-Star squad.

            From an overview perspective, it’s tough to fault Manuel. There has long been rampant prejudice against middle relievers in terms of All-Star selections. And, the modern scheduling format doesn’t help, with out-of-division teams such as the Giants and Phillies only playing each other six times a season.

            Still, an All-Star manager is responsible for more than an overview perspective. It is after all an All-Star position. And so, when a pitcher who displays out-and-out dominance throughout a season gets left off the team, it should be viewed as a slight, whether or not that’s actually the case.

            Of course, Affeldt took it to Manuel and the Phillies in Game 6 of the 2010 National League Championship Series. History will remember that decisive game that propelled the Giants to the World Series as the Madison Bumgarner game. And, while the then 21-year-old Bumgarner was nails through two shutout innings in that game, it should not go overlooked that it was actually Affeldt who came on in relief of starter Jonathan Sanchez to shut the door and turn the tide of the postseason for the Giants.

            With the Giants having tied the game 2-2 in the top of the third, Affeldt emerged with two on and no outs in the bottom of the inning to settle things after benches had cleared following a hit batsman. Affeldt’s first order of business was a tall one, having to face slugger Ryan Howard. But Affeldt made quick work of the All-Star first baseman, striking him out on five pitches, before setting down all six batters he faced in order.

            Throwing four consecutive lefties at the Phils in the game – Javier Lopez went on earn the win – the Giants of course prevailed 3-2 to advance to their date with destiny against the American League champion Rangers.

            Back in the present day, Buster Posey may well be on his way to a date with destiny in becoming the first Giants catcher to start an All-Star Game since 1963. However, this year’s All-Star honor really should belong to Ruiz.

            Sure Posey is a heroic story, rebounding from a career-threatening injury suffered last season in a collision at home plate. And, there’s no fault in voting for the best catch-and-throw backstop in the game, who’s hitting .298 with 10 home runs through 66 games. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is also amidst a brilliant season, as the reigning four-time Gold Glove winner is currently hitting .317 with 12 home runs through 68 games.

            The travesty, however, is that Posey and Molina are the only two names in the All-Star conversation. While Ruiz has moved into the cleanup spot for the Phillies, he is hitting 10 home runs through 67 games, and is currently leading the majors with a .361 batting average. The veteran backstop is also heartily outslugging his contemporaries – .579-.520 over Molina, and .579-.483 over Posey.

            Plus, giving Posey a couple extra days off should be viewed as a win-win for Giants fans. So do the right thing. Vote for Carlos Ruiz.


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