Third baseman Pedro Feliz (fourth in All-Star voting) and catcher Carlos Ruiz (fourth) will need manager Charlie Manuel’s help in making the National League squad, but their inclusion is by no means a reach.
When Feliz signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with a 2010 club option (interesting topic, that option), it appeared to be another one of those begrudging veteran signings to band-aid an area of need. Turns out, Feliz, an unsung hero in the postseason and hitting a very steady .318/.365/.446 this season, has been worth every penny. His season has been filled with surprises, including 21 multi-hit games and a shocking .338/.375/.448 readout against right-handed pitching. Typically prone to slumps, his bat has yet to go cold. One reason is his hits have been true, leading the team in frozen ropes with a 28.5 line-drive percentage. Typically, line drives fall in for hits 75 percent of the time, according to Hardball Times.
Ruiz, who may be a few home games away from surging ahead of Jason Kendall for third in voting, has supplied many of the same surprises, hitting .284/.405/.459 over an injury-shortened year; his greatest trait being that .405 OBP. Ruiz has rekindled one very important part of his game, that being the gap power he demonstrated early in his career. Like Feliz, he’s hitting balls on the nose and also has a good rate of liners at 21.2, which is third among regulars.
Meanwhile, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins maintained their voting leads, with Utley surpassing Albert Pujols in overall totals. Rollins would be making the team on name recognition alone, and after some reconsideration, I’m at peace with that (one of the benefits to winning the World Series, I suppose). Similar to Pat Burrell, Ibanez, a 14-year veteran, has never been named an All-Star (unlike Burrell, he’s on the verge of making his first trip). Howard gained in votes since the last report, but is still miles behind Pujols.
Shane Victorino also made a push, jumping all the way to fifth among outfielders, while right fielder Jayson Werth is eighth. I wouldn’t want to be in Manuel’s shoes if he needed to omit them from the final roster.