In 1999 the Atlanta Braves had a budding superstar in Chipper Jones. That season he hit 45 home runs with 110 RBI’s, and a .319 batting average on his way to the National League most valuable player award and a National League pennant.
Jones didn’t make the All-Star team that year. That roster spot was filled by third basemen Ed Sprague.
Fast forward to 2013 and you have a similar situation playing out with Tampa Bay Rays superstar Evan Longoria.
Last week I wrote about the players I thought should be given serious All-Star consideration but might get overlooked. Now that the rosters have been released I’m here to tell you that this year, like every other, there are obvious issues with a slew of the players that did (Pedro Alvarez) and did not (Longoria) make their respective league rosters. I also want to take this moment to pat myself on the back for getting 10 of the 16 picks on last weeks writing correct (with two involved in the Final Vote), but its the ones that shouldn’t be there that are really telling to me as far as why changes have to be made to the voting process.
I’ll begin with the most boggling of the picks, Pedro Alvarez. Hear me out, Pirates fans, what I’m saying is there are another one (Francisco Liriano), two (Starling Marte), or even three (Wandy Rodriguez) players more deserving than Pedro Alvarez to go to New York next week. If we’re taking the “best of the best” at each position, I would contend that the Braves Chris Johnson (.332 BA, 6 HR, 29 RBI in 71 games) or the Nationals Ryan Zimmerman (.279 BA, .361 OBP, 10 HR, 49 RBI) are better reserve options than Alvarez; whose 104 strikeouts, .246 batting average, and .307 OBP aren’t much to write home about. But please, let’s get caught up in all of those home runs.
I used to be a supporter of the “every team has a representative” rule, but after the last few years of players be left off who are more deserving, I think its time to drop that rule. Obviously, I was one who said if a Marlin was going to this game it would be Jose Fernandez and I was right. But to think that he will be pitching in this game over a Mike Minor (8-4, 3.15 ERA), Jorge De La Rosa (8-5, 3.19 ERA), or the aforementioned Liriano is pretty maddening. This isn’t to say Fernandez isn’t a great pitcher, in fact I even said so last week when I pointed out that his numbers make him a top-15 pitcher in the league. There are more deserving, however, and while the argument can be made that players don’t pick their franchises Major League Baseball does. Don’t want bad baseball? Drop some of the teams doing bad baseball business.
Can we stop with the final vote as well? While it might be fun for some to have an extra five days to vote for their favorite player (if you’re into five middle relievers being on this final ballot that is), it can’t be fun for the players on the list who have to wait out one of the higher honors in their sport. That only scratches the surface of this years vote as the five listed will almost certainly feel jilted should they lose to super-rookie Puig. I’m not going to be a hypocrite because I am all for Puig making it to New York. His five weeks have been spectacular and I think he’s fun to watch. But Puig didn’t have a better first half (overall) than Freddie Freeman (.306 BA, 9 HR, 56 RBI) or Ian Desmond (.281 BA, 15 HR, 49 RBI). Its time for baseball to kind of ease up on the old-school talk and start embracing some of this young talent. That would mean All-Star managers making the decision to place guys like Puig on their roster on their own, not masking it with a final vote and disrespecting fans and players.
And as for Longoria? Check out Jim Leyland’s “reasoning” for leaving him out of the game.
Other All-Star oddities:
- The Phillies (2), Brewers (2), Blue Jays (3), White Sox (2), Twins (2), Giants (3), and Mariners (2) are a combined 60 games out of first place and placed more selected All-Stars in the game than the Atlanta Braves; who currently have the largest division lead in all of baseball (five games).
- The Texas Rangers Nelson Cruz (22 HR, .275 BA, .334 OBP) is an All-Star, but Adrian Beltre (18 HR, .311 BA, .354 OBP) couldn’t crack the final vote.
- Double standard for who is an All-Star after a month: Yasiel Puig has been great the past five weeks, but if we’re talking hot starts to begin a career has anyone noticed what Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.94 ERA, 16 K’s, 5 BB) has been pretty impressive as well. Difference? One plays in Pittsburgh and the other shines in Los Angeles.