A .218 Hitting All-Star?

Jason Varitek is hitting .218 at the All-Star break.  Jason Varitek is one of three American League catchers on the AL All-Star team in 2008 and was voted in by the players to back-up Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, who the fans selected as the starting catcher for the AL.

In fact, of catchers with at least 150 at-bats this season, Varitek ranks 16th (remember, there are only 14 AL teams) in batting average, behind even the likes of – Quick… Name that Molina! – Jose Molina, the Yankees backup catcher.  Varitek also boasts an abysmal .299 on-base percentage, which is less than the batting average of three of the 15 catchers ahead of Varitek.  But nevertheless, Varitek is an all-star.

I could understand Varitek’s selection if he were voted in by the fans, since fan voting is nothing but a popularity contest, but he was chosen by the players.  Even worse, Varitek was chosen by the players, his peers – you know, the people who play this game who should know who merits an all-star selection.  Along with Mauer, Varitek was the only other catcher even listed on a player’s ballot.

It’s insulting that the players don’t even have a clue when voting.  Now, with a position like catching, defense and calling a game is a major part of the position.  But there is no way that Varitek’s game-calling or the way he handles pitchers makes up for his lifeless .218 batting average.  Without combing through catchers’ statistics too thoroughly, Pudge Rodriguez or A.J. Pierzynski would have been a better choice.  At least when selecting a third catcher, Terry Francona went with former Yankee farmhand Dioner Navarro of Tampa Bay who is having a stellar year, hitting .310 and doing a tremendous job with those young Tampa pitchers.  To show you how little fans know about Navarro’s year, he earned a paltry 533, 276 votes from the fans, good enough to rank eighth among catchers on the fan ballot.

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