Fryman gives Ripken his All-Star vote, too

June 23, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Travis Fryman doesn't begrudge Cal Ripken's huge lead in the American League All-Star balloting one bit.

"Not in the least," he said last night.

The Detroit Tigers' 24-year-old shortstop believes that performance over the long haul is the biggest measuring stick when it comes to All-Star balloting.

That's why Fryman can roll into Camden Yards for a big three-game series with the Orioles and shrug off Ripken's insurmountable lead of 385,000 votes for next month's All-Star Game here.

Forget batting average and RBI -- Fryman led the Orioles' Ripken by 50 points and 12 RBI after his first-inning homer last night -- and think in bigger, broader terms.

In only his fourth season in the major leagues, Fryman doesn't expect to beat out the man who already has two MVP awards in his den, who is chasing Lou Gehrig's legendary ironman record.

"I think he deserves the votes," Fryman said.

"[The All-Star Game] is as much about being consistent over a long period of time, what you've done, and being popular with the fans, as it is about anything. It's a fans game. The game's not for us. Over the course of Ripken's career, he has proven he is an All-Star, and he deserves the votes."

In the latest release of American League ballots, Ripken has 629,730 votes to Fryman's 244,085. That still represents the biggest position lead in the AL, although the Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey leads the league in votes with 675,470.

Such is Ripken's popularity. On-the-field production would not suggest that kind of disparity. Fryman was hitting .277 going into last night's game. His three-run home run in the first was his 10th homer of the season. A run-scoring single in the fourth gave him 46 RBI.

Ripken, mired in a season-long hitting slump, was batting just .221 with seven homers and 33 RBI.

Fryman was hitting .364 with runners in scoring position; Ripken .242.

The one big edge Ripken held on Fryman was defensively, where he had fewer than half of Fryman's errors (17-8).

Despite the numbers, Ripken, in his 12th big-league season, is headed for his 10th straight All-Star start. Fryman was named to the AL team for the first time last year.

One of the first people Fryman wanted to talk to a year ago at the All-Star Game was Ripken.

"Cal's strong point obviously is his durability," Fryman said. "He's been able to avoid injuries. I asked him about the things he does. I really observed him as much as I did anything -- the way he handles himself, the way he prepares himself for games. It was very interesting."

Fryman would appear to be well on his way toward putting up numbers of longevity and performance. In two of his first three seasons with the Tigers, he hit at least 20 homers and drove in at least 91 runs.

As fate would have it, the only AL shortstop to collect more votes than Ripken the previous nine years was Fryman's teammate, Alan Trammell, in 1988. An injury prevented Trammell from participating.

Said Fryman: "I've got to believe -- and maybe it's naive -- that with time and consistent play, a player's popularity is going to increase because we travel to all these parks.

"Over time, I think fans will recognize -- as they did with Ripken or Rod Carew -- guys who played a lot of years who maybe a year or two didn't have the best numbers at the half. But they're still the stars. And that's who the people want to see."

There were two lead changes yesterday. The Toronto Blue Jays' John Olerud supplanted injured Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics at first base, and Toronto's Joe Carter passed Jose Canseco of the Texas Rangers for the third outfield spot.

Maintaining leads were catcher Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers, second baseman Roberto Alomar of the Blue Jays, third baseman Wade Boggs of the New York Yankees, and Griffey and the Minnesota Twins' Kirby Puckett in the outfield.

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