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A.J. Ellis: All-Star?

May 27, 2012, 10:48 AM EDT

aj ellis ap AP

The Dodgers picked up their MLB-best 31st victory on Saturday when catcher A.J. Ellis hit a walkoff three-run shot against the Astros’ Wesley Wright.

The heroics are nothing new this year for Ellis.

A 31-year-old former 18th-round pick, he’s batting .317/.442/.517 with five home runs, seven doubles and 23 RBI through 149 plate appearances. And here’s the current leaderboard for FanGraphs’ version of WAR (Wins Above Replacement):

A.J. Ellis – 2.5
Carlos Ruiz – 2.4
Yadier Molina – 1.9
Jonathan Lucroy – 1.9
A.J. Pierzynski – 1.8
Joe Mauer – 1.5
Matt Wieters – 1.4
Buster Posey – 1.2
Carlos Santana – 1.2
Brian McCann – 0.9

Ellis isn’t as consistently great on defense as Ruiz or Molina, but he’s thrown out 16 of 35 would-be base stealers and certainly seems deserving of his first National League All-Star nod. “This is the greatest moment of my personal baseball career,” Ellis told the Associated Press shortly after Saturday’s walkoff. “It’s really humbling, just to be a part of where this team is headed right now. It feels real special.”

  1. dodger88 - May 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    All-Star? YES

    One obviously needs to be mindful of the fact that his breakthrough is only a 1/4 into the season and coming on the wrong side of 30 but in his defense he should have been given a chance at least 2 years ago. When they lost Martin, they should have tried out Ellis instead of Barajas & Navarro. Hopefully this turns out to be a case of better late than never.

    • jpeetey - May 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      For what it’s worth, A.J.’s now got almost 400 plate appearances over the past three years and has gotten on at an outstanding .391 clip. The pop is a mirage, but the on-base skills are real – he was an OBP machine in the minors, too.

  2. rastaraider - May 27, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Haha don’t worry it’s just the beginning

    • skerney - May 27, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Actually, he’s 31. So it’s sorta the beginning of the end. With Molina and Ruiz being the locks from the NL to get in the ASG there is no spot for Ellis.

  3. scatterbrian - May 27, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Absolutely he is…or should be. The problem is the selection process. If Yadier gets voted in, you can’t exclude Chooch. On the flipside, if Chooch is voted in, TLR will choose Yadier. And it’ll be hard to justify having three catchers.

  4. spudchukar - May 27, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    It would be a crime if Ellis got the nod over Molina, Ruiz or Lucroy. All three are vastly superior defensively, and they all are out slugging Ellis by considerable margins. Ellis’s OPS number is above the others but that is entirely due to his walk rate, which has importance but in and of itself doesn’t really translate into better overall importance.

    Ellis can I believe make a serious claim for 4th best catch in the NL currently, better than Posey, McCann or Montero but not by a lot. He has the additional advantage of having far fewer ABs which is always helpful when tasked with the burdens of everyday catching.

    Fortunately for the NL, TLR, will not rely on the increasingly unimportant WAR stats, which are even becoming somewhat of a joke even to serious Sabermetricians, and risible to most scientific statisticians.

    All-Star choice should be a combination of first half performances, and life-time achievements. Like many others I am frustrated by the fan bandwagon voting process. There is a fine balance, but as long as it remains a popularity contest driven by large market teams players, then the fans will continue to select those with they are most familiar with.

    On the flip-side, when one compares Ellis’ numbers (.317/.442/.517) to the others he does not stand out. Ruiz .362/.417/.587, Lucroy .348/.389/.587, and Molina .325/.370/.538 all have comparable stats, with the only edge really Ellis’ OBP. When you factor in that Molina has garnered the last 4 Golden Gloves, and also last years’ revered (or should be revered) Platinum Glove Award, then unseating him or would be shameful. Ruiz in my book is clearly a better choice still, and I would give the nod to Lucroy as the #3 catcher, which I believe there almost always are, with Ellis in serious contention to replace Lucroy if he can sustain in the next 6 weeks.

    Ellis’ surprise first 2 months place him in the conversation, but on further examination, he still doesn’t warrant supplanting the likes of Molina or Ruiz who are having outstanding 2012 campaigns.

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