COMMENTARY | Start the campaign to write-in New York Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells for the American League All-Star team.
Wells, who isn't listed on the All-Star ballot, is second on the Yankees in WAR (Robinson Cano is first) and ranks fifth in the category among American League outfielders, trailing only Nick Swisher, Alex Gordon, Alex Rios, and Shane Victorino. If he were on the ballot, Wells would rank 2nd in home runs and 6th in RBI among the options for American League outfielders.
The three-time former All-Star is among the primary reasons why the Yankees, with the second-oldest roster in baseball, also have the second-best record in the major leagues. However, when the Yankees traded for Wells after Curtis Granderson was injured in spring training, sportswriters weren't exactly calling Yankees general manager Brian Cashman a genius.
Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan wasn't alone when he described the signing as act of desperation, reminding readers that Wells was 34-years-old and, over the past two season, had hit .222 and couldn't get on base 26 percent of the time. USA Today's Bob Nightengale described the Yankees as the only team desperate enough to take Wells off the Angels' hands. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, meanwhile, described the move as the Yankees "rummaging through baseball's scrap heap."
Redemption, thy outfit is pinstripes.
In 171 plate appearances this season, Wells is hitting .288 with a .345 OBP, 10 HR, and 24 RBI. Last season, in 243 plate appearances, Wells hit .230 with a .279 OBP, 11 HR, and 29 RBI. In a lineup where regulars Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Alex Rodriguez, and Kevin Youkilis, as well as Granderson, have all landed on the disabled list this year, Wells has been a constant presence.
Besides casting ballots at major and minor league ballparks, fans can cast their All-Star votes online or through MLB's All-Star Game app through Thursday, July 4. Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period but are also eligible to earn 10 more ballots by using an MLB.com account.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Curtis Granderson