Should Jered Weaver Start The All-Star Game?

Jered Weaver leads the American League in strikeouts and is in the top 10 in nearly every important pitching category. The All-Star Game is at his home park and it is not a stretch to insist that he deserves the starting nod.

The All-Star Game is at Angels Stadium of Anaheim this season. The Angels are not close to having any of their offensive players voted to start the game by the fans, and rightly so. However, there are three Angels worthy of All-Star consideration and one player on the team who is a no-brainer for inclusion.

Mike Napoli would be the perfect choice as backup catcher on the American League All-Star squad to Joe Mauer. Napoli has 13 home runs and an OPS north of .800. If there is a drawback, he alternated many starts behind the dish with the bench and is now almost a full time first baseman for the Halos. Still, his lethal bat and catching ability are All-Star caliber.

Torii Hunter is a fan favorite throughout baseball and, even having lost a step in the outfield (he turns 35 less than a week after the All Star Game), he is a threat to take away home runs and is near the top of the league in a few counting stats that are easy to feed to fans: 53 RBIs, 24 doubles and 36 extra-base hits going into last weekend.

Ervin Santana has put up decent numbers, and with new rules regarding starting pitcher eligibility for the All Star Game, he could squeak in on a technicality, barring a string of outright dominant starts in the two weeks Joe Girardi has to make up his mind.

The one Angel that deserves to be named to the 2010 American League All-Star team is Jered Weaver. "Weaver the Younger" will finish June leading the league in strikeouts (118), and holds the league leading rate of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He has an ERA of 3.01 (eighth in the AL), 2.8 Wins Above Replacement (third in the AL), a 1.092 WHIP (seventh).

If Cliff Lee and his inhuman 19 strikeouts-per-walk is traded to the National League, Weaver's ratio of 4.9 strikeouts per walk will lead the American League. He is also in the top ten of adjusted ERA (ERA+), and his Angels have had about the toughest strength of schedule of any team in baseball.

Mike Scioscia has already been named Joe Girardi's bench coach so there is the subtle influence for this year's AL All-Star Game manager to green-light a Weaver start. The hometown faithful of Anaheim are ready for some player without a Halo to manufacture a memory to rival the Katella Avenue All-Star feats of Tony Perez in 1967 and Bo Jackson in 1989.

Weaver's bullpen has cost him four wins, which if added to his total would lead the league, so the traditional stat of All-Star starters should be seen as a moot point. If Girardi wants to represent the class that his Yankees franchise is alleged to embody, putting Jered Weaver on the mound with the chance of striking out six National League All-Stars to begin the game is more than just a treat for deserving Angels fans; it is the right thing to do.

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