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Darvish Should Win All Star Final Vote

The Rangers already have a gluttony of appearances in the 2012 Major League All Star Game, with three starters and four reserves, making a franchise-record seven appearances total. Once the Final Vote is over and done with, though, it should be an even more impressive eight.

You could argue there are more deserving players than the five who appear on the final ballot -- such as Austin Jackson, who currently sits fourth in the AL in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement -- but Ron Washington has chosen the five players he wants fans to pick from, and four of them likely do not have a prayer; Yu Darvish is going to Kansas City.

That's nothing unreasonable, either. The relievers, Ernesto Frieri and Jonathan Broxton, are having nice years, but there are already too many relievers on the All Star roster every year. Starters are where the real value (and star power) comes from, so a fan's decision should be coming down to one of Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, and Darvish.

Hammel is most certainly having a good year. He leads Darvish in ERA 3.29 to 3.59, and walks 32 to 52, though he trails in strikeouts 89 to 117. From a "sabermetric" standpoint, he leads Darvish in Fielding Independent Pitching ERA 3.32 to 3.67, but with Darvish throwing 10 more innings, and park factors considered, the two are exactly tied with a 3.2 fWAR (f stands for FanGraphs' version). Hammel has had a nice career, but nothing special, so he doesn't get any recognition for that. Darvish has had no career outside of dominating Japan, but that counts for something, as does being a young, marketable star that the nation needs to see.

Peavy, rather, is Darvish's real challenge in vote justification. Peavy's 2.96 ERA blows Darvish away, though it is helped by a .256 average on balls hit in play. His 101 strikeouts trail Darvish despite 10 more innings, but his 24 walks allowed are staggering. Peavy has the superior 3.30 FIP, and with a few more innings to go with it, an also-superior 2.8 fWAR.

And, unfortunately, other forms of Wins Above Replacement take it from kind of close to one-sided. At Baseball-Reference, Peavy leads 3.8 to 2.3. At StatCorner, Peavy leads 3.3 to 1.8. Just about any way you look at it, Peavy is having a better season, and is also a nice story of a once-ace returning to prominence. Darvish is having a nice season, it's just hard to justify putting him over Peavy.

Rest assured, it will almost certainly be Darvish, though. We've already seen how Rangers fans can come out and vote for their guys, we know Darvish's face and name are splattered all over baseball media, and we know Japan is going to come out and vote big for their boy. Darvish is going to the All Star Game. Eight Texas Rangers are going to the All Star Game.

Oh well. We've dealt with the "wrong" players going to the All Star Game for years, it might as well be a Ranger for once. Peavy already should have been on the roster, since he's third in fWAR and a name brand player; he would be if it weren't for so many blasted relievers making it every year. At 9th in fWAR, Darvish would not at all be a poor choice, even if Peavy is probably having a better season, He is, again, a big story himself.

You can vote for the final member of the 2012 Major League All Star Game here. If you vote for Jake Peavy, you have a great argument. If you vote for Yu Darvish, there's nothing wrong with that. If you vote for Ernesto Frieri. . . I don't know, whatever floats your boat, I guess. The Final Vote runs through Thursday.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.