Every year, there are guys who should have gotten into the All-Star game who are not selected and are left watching the game on television. So yes, these are my opinions, but with the rosters revealed on ESPN at 7 ET/4 PT, we know all of the all-stars with two exceptions; 1. One more player will be added via the “Final Vote” (Voting is open now on MLB.com through 4 ET, Thursday, July 10) 2. Certain players will be unable to play in this year’s contest due to injury or, in the case of some starting pitchers, they will have pitched too recently to be available for the All-Star Game and will be replaced by pitchers who would be available.
Before we delve into who was unjustly left off of the roster, let’s remind ourselves how the rosters ended up the way they are.
- Fans voted online on a starter at each position for both the American and National Leagues — nine players in the AL and eight in the NL (no DH).
- After the fans have voted, the players vote on the next group of all-stars. In his piece from this time three years ago, Eric Seidman of Fangraphs wrote
Players then vote on the next 16 to make the team. They vote on eight pitchers, and one backup for each position on the diamond. If it turns out that the leading vote-getter by the fans is also the lead guy from the player-vote, the second place finisher in the player-vote gets in.
- The manager for each all-star team – the manager for each team in the prior year’s World Series (this year John Farrell of the Red Sox and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals) – then select the next eight or so players, bringing each roster to 33 players.
- The 34th and final player on each roster is selected by the fans in what is billed as the “Final Vote Sponsored by Experian.”
There is a glaring “problem” here, or at least it’s an interference to the whole process: each team must be represented at the All-Star Game. I’m approaching this, at least in some part, from the only standpoint I know: selecting the best roster of players from each league. Other factors I’ve considered are who are the most “star-worthy” players, who would some of the most entertaining players be to see face each other, etc. With that said, here are my issues with the all-star rosters beginning with the…
- I’m gonna start by saying I actually don’t have a problem with Derek Jeter being an All-Star starter. Some players of equal overall caliber have had shorter career arcs, in which their best years were better than Jeter’s best years. What has made Mr. Jeter remarkable is his longevity and the way he has sustained his level of player over a long period of time. If he were a complete jackass, or if he were doing terribly this year, it would be a different story. Jeter hasn’t been entirely atrocious this year, so yeah I’m alright with him starting.
- Alex Gordon should be starting, period. FanGraphs has him as the second best player in the AL behind Mike Trout and almost a full win ahead of Ian Kinsler at No. 3. Most every defensive metric has him as the best defensive player in the league, and his Royals are three games above .500 and in second place in the AL Central. I would have him over Jose Bautista.
- Ian Kinsler and Kyle Seager are both not on the roster, while Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, and Adrian Beltre are. Yes, the A’s are the best team in baseball, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a direct correlation to number of representatives. I’m still hoping Kyle Seager is used to replace the injured Edwin Encarnacion, but when you consider the defensive (and athletic) contributions of both Seager and Kinsler, both FG and Baseball-Reference rate them among the Top 6 players with Moss, Cespedes, and Beltre not in the Top 10.
- Kudos to John Farrell for selecting only one player from his struggling Red Sox. Jon Lester has been one of the best starters in the AL, but it’s nice to see Farrell showing restraint and not grabbing Ortiz/Pedroia/Lackey.
- Obviously I wouldn’t and didn’t wish injury on Matt Wieters, but I’d say we can chalk this up as “ball don’t lie.” Salvador Perez should and will be the All-Star starter, though it took Wieters’ injury for this to occur.
- The guys at Beyond The Boxscore made a lot of great points on Twitter as the selection show was happening and I’d advise you to check out their TL, but they touched on something here. Obviously one of the five guys in the Final Vote will make the team, but you could easily argue at least four of them shouldn’t have to wait for the final vote. I named Corey Kluber AL Pitcher of the Month for May, and at this point now his FIP ranks second only to Felix. Chris Sale is one inning shy of qualifying for ERA leaders, and he’d be second behind only Felix (and only .05 behind at that). Garrett Richards is third in the AL in FIP and has without question been the best pitcher on his team, a squad who are 51-36 and second in the tough AL West. Dallas Keuchel‘s 82 FIP- is better than Scott Kazmir‘s 88 FIP-. If you’re sitting here wondering who I would’ve left off? Mark Buehrle and Scott Kazmir. This whole paragraph, however, is a testament to how great the pitching is in the American League in 2014.
- It’s a two-horse race for who should start the All-Star Game, period. Felix Hernandez and Masahiro Tanaka, two of the three best pitchers in baseball this year (Clayton Kershaw is the other one). If Tanaka pitches Sunday for the Yankees, it’s gotta be Felix. Period.
- Alexei Ramirez was selected ahead of both Alcides Escobar and Erick Aybar. Escobar has a higher wOBA, both Escobar and Aybar have a higher wRC+, Aybar has more RBI, and Escobar has more steals. Ramirez couldn’t have been selected because the White Sox needed a player because Jose Abreu was already on there, and Chris Sale (and maybe even Jose Quintana) should have been.
I need to move on to the other league while the fervor is still running hot.
— Jonathan Lucroy (@JLucroy20) July 7, 2014
- Let’s start behind the dish, where I don’t think there should have been a debate — Jonathan Lucroy should be the All-Star starter at catcher. He’s been the best player in the NL behind only Troy Tulowitzki (and Giancarlo Stanton, depending on your metrics) and he plays for the team with the best record in the NL. Yadier Molina was elected over him because of course, so there’s two catcher spots. The third catcher spot went to…Devin Mesoraco? The Cincinnati Reds backstop doesn’t even have 210 plate appearances — Lucroy has 351, Molina has 324, and Posey has 316. Posey is one of your game’s biggest stars and is playing for one of the best teams in the NL in the Giants. Mesoraco wouldn’t have been the Reds only selection, as Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, and Aroldis Chapman were already headed to Minnesota.
- Kudos to Brewers fans for stuffing the living crud out of the digital ballot box as Aramis Ramirez was elected as the NL starter at 3B even though he only has just over 230 plate appearances at third. Two of the top three NL 3B in FanGraphs’ WAR were selected (Todd Frazier and Matt Carpenter), but it’s up to Anthony Rendon to make it in the Final Vote. Rendon is a star of the future and a complete stud at the hot corner who has also swung a solid bat this year. It’d be great to see him at Target Field this year.
- Really awesome seeing Yasiel Puig selected as starter. That kid is what the All-Star Game is all about to me: seeing the most talented and entertaining players do battle.
- Giancarlo Stanton should be in the starting lineup at DH. I’m confident Mike Matheny won’t screw this one up. The kid doesn’t get to play for a decent team for most of the year, the least we could do for him is have him start for a great team one game a year.
- The players elected OF Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Mike Matheny selected Josh Harrison of the Pirates. Wut. Blackmon got off to a great start, but has cooled off (.295/.341/.463) to a point that is fairly mediocre for a guy who plays half his games at Coors Field, as David Schoenfeld of ESPN.com points out. Josh Harrison is a utility player. A great one, yes, but he’s a utility player, and you get the feeling Matheny selected him because of this and because of the whole “this time it matters”/”we gotta win” b.s. Who should be in ahead of these two? There’s four or five different options, and a few of them are on the Final Vote ballot, but I’ll go with two in particular: Anthony Rizzo and Billy Hamilton. Rizzo (.274/.384/.489) is the Cubs stud first baseman of the future and has some real pop in his bat, having been one of the best first basemen in the NL so far. Hamilton’s dynamic speed makes him one of the more fun players to watch in baseball, and the All-Star Game could potentially serve as a great coming out party for him.
- Similar to the AL, it’s a two-horse race for who should start the game on the bump, with Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright being the pitchers in question. Kershaw is still just a few innings shy of qualifying for stats leaders, but a 36.0 scoreless streak? NL-best marks in ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9, and LOB%? It should be Kershaw, but that isn’t to say Adam Wainwright isn’t in the conversation.
Before I wrap this thing up, I’d like to say that Jeff Samardzija needs to be in Minnesota in an Oakland A’s jersey. If he pitched well enough to be an All-Star before he was traded, he should be an All-Star.
P.S. There will be many other “snubs” pieces out there but I’ll point you in the direction of one more (in addition to David Schoenfeld’s which I linked to earlier); here is Keith Law’s musings on the all-star rosters (ESPN Insider Only).
UPDATE, 2:24 p.m. PT: Kyle Seager, no longer an All-Star snub. John Farrell announced today that Seager would replace Edwin Encarnacion, who hit the 15-Day DL today. Great to see. The next man up, so to speak, for the American League should be Ian Kinsler. Click Here for the official press release announcing Seager’s selection, and click here to read the official release announcing Encarnacion’s placement on the Disabled list.