The MLB All-Stat Team

The ballots and the numbers tell two very different stories about this year’s All-Stars – except Troy Tulowitzki.

Complaining about the composition of baseball’s All-Star teams is like a broken pencil – pointless. Everyone knows the All-Star Game is a popularity contest, which is why it’s hard to get riled up about Derek Jeter, who hasn’t spent much time on base this season, starting for the American League. If fans want to celebrate “The Captain” one more time, let them. Just don’t let anyone claim he’s the best shortstop in the AL. That distinction, at least for the first half of 2014, belongs to Angels righty Erick Aybar, who tops all shortstops in the junior circuit with a 2.8 WAR.

WAR, or wins above replacement, is an advanced stat that combines most everything we know about a player into one digestible number. It incorporates offense, defense, and baserunning to provide a picture of how much value a player provides his team. A player’s legacy, star power, and heart size aren’t part of the WAR formula, which stands in contrast to the largely emotional affair that is All-Star voting. So what would this year’s All-Star teams look like if their lineups were comprised of the players with the highest WAR at each position? These would be your starters:

American League

C: Salvador Perez, 3.2

1B: Edwin Encarnacion, 3

2B: Ian Kinsler, 3.7

3B: Josh Donaldson, 4.6

SS: Erick Aybar, 2.0

OF: Mike Trout, 5.1

OF: Alex Gordon, 3.9

OF: Jose Bautista, 3.6

DH: Nelson Cruz, 3

National League

C: Jonathan Lucroy, 4.4

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, 4.1

2B: Chase Utley, 2.8

3B: Todd Frazier, 3.5

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, 5.4

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, 4.9

OF: Andrew McCutchen, 4

OF: Jason Heyward, 3.4

Of the 17 position players voted by fans to start the 2014 All-Star Game, eight are on the teams above. That means nine of the guys starting in Minneapolis on Tuesday haven’t been the best players at their position in their respective leagues this season. That would be worth getting upset about if the All-Star game was the all-stat game.

It’s not though, and we accept that. We accept that the definition of “star” in All-Star includes more than statistics. We accept the importance of name recognition and legacy and the size of the market in which a player plays. We even accept that a defensive wiz like Jason Heyward is left off the team because chicks dig the long ball and not the guy stealing the long ball. Instead of dwelling on the differences between the stat leaders and star power leaders, we’d like to celebrate their intersection. His name is Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and he’s baseball’s leader in WAR through the first half of the season and the NL’s leading All-Star vote-getter. Democracy worked!

Photos by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images