Around the Horn

All-Star rosters announced and the M's get just one

The All-Star Game rosters were announced today, a week before the end of the unofficial first half of the 2021 season (the mathematical halfway point was passed during this past week). It's the first year for the new voting procedures for starting lineups and it worked out reasonably well.

Voting for the midsummer classic, to be played in Denver on July 13th, was conducted in stages this year, with every regular position player on the ballot in an initial round and then the top three finishers in each position moving on to a second vote to determine the winner. As in recent years, most reserves and pitchers were selected by player ballots and the last remaining slots for the 32-man rosters were filled by the Commissioner's office to ensure each team is represented and positional balance is reasonable. (The manager no longer has any say as of a 2017 rule change.)

Unsurprisingly, no Mariners made the cut out of the first round of voting. Mitch Haniger was the team's best bet in the early season, but the number of deserving American League outfielders made that a tough hill to climb. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is ending the first half as a deserving choice, but when voting began his numbers weren't so impressive. Ty France was on the ballot as a DH, but his time on the injured list probably cost him any consideration.

So which Seattle players were worthy of making it? Crawford, for sure, but he has the misfortune (for this purpose) of playing in a stacked position. With Boston's Xander Bogaerts the elected starter and Houston's Carlos Correa chosen by the players, it wasn't a sure thing that any other shortstops would go; the Commissioner's office did choose Toronto's Bo Bichette, though, and his numbers are better than J.P.'s. There's no question Crawford is the superior defensive player, but J.P. is understandably, if disappointingly, the odd man out. Haniger would be an iffy but justifiable choice on the basis of his 18 home runs, but his overall line of .252/.304/.479 really doesn't measure up (even though arguably less-deserving outfielders—looking at you, Adolis García—got chosen on similar merit).

Pitching is where the other Mariner options lie, and there are two contenders: starter Yusei Kikuchi and reliever Kendall Graveman. Graveman probably lost his chance when he hit the injured list in mid-May and missed three weeks or so, but Yusei has been terrific since the end of April, pitching to a 2.33 ERA and allowing a puny .173/.242/.325 batting line against him since April 29th (his last 11 starts).

In the end, with no M's elected to start and, irritatingly, no Mariners among the players' choices for the second consecutive year (skipping over the ASG-less 2020), it fell to the Commissioner's office to select at least one Seattle representative and that's how Kikuchi gets his first career All-Star selection in the Majors (he had three All-Star seasons with NPB's Saitama Seibu Lions) as the sole Mariner.

It might feel like the Mariners always get short shrift in the ASG—last time, in 2019, the only M was Daniel Vogelbach—but it's actually just the ninth time since 1991 that Seattle has had just one representative. And there's still a chance Crawford could get named to the squad; two players have already been replaced due to injury (the Angels' Mike Trout and Cleveland's Shane Bieber) and someone else could go down or bow out between now and the 13th.

So, aside from the Mariner representation, how did the selections turn out? Not bad. The system as currently set up is too restrictive for my taste—there must be 20 position players and 12 pitchers per league, for example, and choices from the players' balloting must be one from each position, including designated hitter, and pitcher choices are segregated into starters and relievers; that needs to loosen up as sometimes you just don't have six outfielders that merit going while you do have, say, four shortstops, and the same disparity can crop up with starters and relievers—but given that's what we have, the end results are reasonable. The elected starters are almost all spot on and there are very few nits I'd pick with the full rosters. Still, I'd have made a few changes if it were up to me—in part because I would throw out the restrictive rules, but I do like requiring a representative from every team, so that stays:

Official Selections
AL All-Stars
Player Pos Team Chosen by
Salvador Pérez C KCR Fan vote
Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1B TOR Fan vote
Marcus Semien 2B TOR Fan vote
Xander Bogaerts SS BOS Fan vote
Rafael Devers 3B BOS Fan vote
Mike Trout* OF LAA Fan vote
Aaron Judge OF NYY Fan vote
Teoscar Hernández OF TOR Fan vote
Shohei Ohtani DH LAA Fan vote
José Altuve 2B HOU Player vote
Bo Bichette SS TOR Commissioner
Michael Brantley OF HOU Player vote
Carlos Correa SS HOU Player vote
Nelson Cruz DH MIN Commissioner
Joey Gallo^ OF TEX Commissioner
Adolis García OF TEX Player vote
J.D. Martínez DH BOS Player vote
Cedric Mullins OF BAL Player vote
Matt Olson 1B OAK Player vote
José Ramírez 3B CLE Player vote
Jared Walsh 1B LAA Commissioner
Mike Zunino C TBR Player vote
Matt Barnes RP BOS Player vote
Shane Bieber* SP CLE Player vote
Aroldis Chapman RP NYY Player vote
Gerrit Cole SP NYY Player vote
Nathan Eovaldi^ SP BOS Commissioner
Kyle Gibson SP TEX Commissioner
Liam Hendriks RP CWS Player vote
Yusei Kikuchi SP SEA Commissioner
Lance Lynn SP TEX Player vote
Shohei Ohtani SP LAA Commissioner
Ryan Pressly RP HOU Commissioner
Carlos Rodón SP CWS Player vote
Gregory Soto RP DET Commissioner
NL All-Stars
Buster Posey C SFG Fan vote
Freddie Freeman 1B ATL Fan vote
Adam Frazier 2B PIT Fan vote
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS SDP Fan vote
Nolan Arenado 3B STL Fan vote
Ronald Acuña Jr. OF ATL Fan vote
Nick Castellanos OF CIN Fan vote
Jesse Winker OF CIN Fan vote
Ozzie Albies 2B ATL Commissioner
Mookie Betts OF LAD Player vote
Kris Bryant 3B CHC Player vote
Brandon Crawford SS SFG Commissioner
Jake Cronenworth 2B SDP Player vote
Eduardo Escobar 3B ARZ Commissioner
Max Muncy IF LAD Player vote
J.T. Realmuto C PHI Player vote
Bryan Reynolds OF PIT Player vote
Kyle Schwarber* OF WAS Player vote
Juan Soto^ OF WAS Commissioner
Chris Taylor IF/OF LAD Commissioner
Trea Turner SS WAS Player vote
Corbin Burnes SP MIL Player vote
Yu Darvish SP SDP Player vote
Jacob deGrom SP NYM Player vote
Kevin Gausman SP SFG Player vote
Josh Hader RP MIL Player vote
Craig Kimbrel RP CHC Player vote
Germán Marquez SP COL Commissioner
Mark Melancon RP SDP Player vote
Alex Reyes RP STL Commissioner
Trevor Rogers SP MIA Commissioner
Zach Wheeler SP PHI Commissioner
Brandon Woodruff SP MIL Player vote

* Injured or will not play
^Injury replacement

GS.net Selections
AL All-Stars
Player Pos Team In real
ASG?
Salvador Pérez C KCR Yes
Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1B TOR Yes 
Marcus Semien 2B TOR Yes 
Xander Bogaerts SS BOS Yes
Rafael Devers 3B BOS Yes
Cedric Mullins OF BAL Yes
Aaron Judge OF NYY Yes
Michael Brantley OF HOU Yes
Shohei Ohtani P LAA Yes 
José Altuve 2B HOU Yes
Bo Bichette SS TOR Yes
Carlos Correa SS HOU Yes 
J.P. Crawford SS SEA No
Nelson Cruz DH MIN Yes
Yasmani Grandal C CWS No
J.D. Martínez OF BOS Yes
Yoan Moncada 3B CWS No
Matt Olson 1B OAK Yes 
José Ramírez 3B CLE Yes
Jonathan Schoop 2B DET No
Jared Walsh 1B LAA Yes
Matt Barnes RP BOS Yes
Chris Bassitt SP OAK No
Gerritt Cole SP NYY Yes
Kyle Gibson SP TEX Yes
Liam Hendriks RP CWS Yes 
Yusei Kikuchi SP SEA Yes
Andrew Kittredge RP TBR No
Lance Lynn SP TEX Yes
Ryan Pressly RP HOU Yes
Carlos Rodón SP CWS Yes
Lou Trivino RP OAK No
NL All-Stars
Buster Posey C SFG Yes 
Freddie Freeman 1B ATL Yes 
Adam Frazier 2B PIT Yes
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS SDP Yes 
Nolan Arenado 3B STL Yes
Ronald Acuña Jr. OF  ATL Yes
Nick Castellanos OF CIN Yes 
Juan Soto OF WAS Yes
Omar Narváez DH (C) MIL No
Mookie Betts OF LAD Yes
Kris Bryant 3B CHC Yes
Jake Cronenworth 2B SDP Yes
Carson Kelly C ARZ No
Starling Marte OF MIA No
Max Muncy IF LAD Yes
Bryan Reynolds OF PIT Yes
Jean Segura 2B PHI No
Raimel Tapia OF COL No
Justin Turner 3B LAD No
Trea Turner SS WAS Yes
Walker Buehler SP LAD No
Corbin Burnes SP MIL Yes
Yu Darvish SP SDP Yes
Jacob deGrom SP NYM Yes
Kevin Gausman SP SFG Yes
Josh Hader RP MIL Yes
Craig Kimbrel RP CHC Yes
Freddy Peralta SP MIL No
Alex Reyes RP STL Yes
Max Scherzer SP WAS No
Zach Wheeler SP PHI Yes
Brandon Woodruff SP MIL Yes

As always, there are too many candidates for too few spots. I differ from the fans, players, and Commissioner's Office here and there, but the only really egregious selection on the official rosters is Mike Zunino. I know a lot of Seattle fans will be glad to see him there, but his numbers are sad for an All-Star. Yes, 18 home runs, but barely a .200 average and a sub-.300 on-base do not an All-Star make in my book. Of course, you do have to have a Ray, and there are no obvious choices there unless you get around the rule by naming injured pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who would be deserving if he hadn't hurt himself. But Kittredge has been their best reliever and has legit All-Star numbers, so in my world he gets it over Mike Z.

Team Representation
AL Off/GS NL Off/GS
Baltimore 1/1 Arizona 1/1
Boston 5/4 Atlanta 3/2
Chicago 2/4 Chicago 2/2
Cleveland 2*/1 Cincinnati 2/1
Detroit 1/1 Colorado 1/1
Houston 4/4 Los Angeles 3/4
Kansas City 1/1 Miami 1/1
Los Angeles 3*/2 Milwaukee 3/5
Minnesota 1/1 New York 1/1
New York 3/2 Philadelphia 2/2
Oakland 1/3 Pittsburgh 2/2
Seattle 1/2 St. Louis 2/2
Tampa Bay 1/1 San Diego 4/3
Texas 4/2 San Francisco 2/2
Toronto 4/3 Washington 3*/3
* 1 injured & will not play

Other divergences in the AL are starting Mullins (Trout is injured, thus not in my group) and Brantley, while leaving off Hernández altogether. No shade to Teoscar, but other guys are just having a better year, mostly pitchers. Also, my biases do not gravitate toward one-dimensional power hitters, so bye-bye Joey Gallo and Adolis García (at least Gallo draws walks; García barely cracks .300 in the on-base column). Ditching them gives an opening for J.P. Crawford and White Sox 3B Moncada, who was left out, I have to assume, because he doesn't hit home runs; to me, a .400+ on-base mark is more worthy. And since we didn't take Zunino, we need a catcher, so we turn again to Chicago and nab Grandal, who may have a worse batting average than Mike Z, but similar power and a near-.400 OBP. Pitching-wise, we see some more representation from Oakland, who somehow only got one rep on the real team (Olson). Bassitt and Trivino are better options in my mind than Eovaldi and Gregory Soto, so in they go. Losing Soto means we need a Detroit rep, though, so enter 2B Jonathan Schoop, who is the only semi-viable option there. Chapman is left off because he just isn't in the upper tier of closers this year. Plus, you know, Yankees. The league made a big thing about the Commissioner's Office choosing Ohtani a second time, as a pitcher, but that seems to be a bit of sleight-of-hand to get around the Commissioner's own rule about 12 pitchers/20 position players (they are evidently counting Ohtani as pitcher #12 to open a slot for a non-pitcher). The league is effectively treating him as two separate players because of idiocy surrounding the DH role. He's on the team just like any other player, his defensive position happens to be pitcher. He isn't taking two roster spots, so there's no need to list him twice. (Now, if they allow him to pitch after he's removed from the lineup, or if they start him on the mound but allow a DH position after he leaves, that'll open another can of worms we don't need.)

Over in the senior circuit, the starting eight stay the same except for my choice to put Juan Soto ahead of Winker. Winker deserves to be there, but I left him out in favor of Starling Marte to represent Miami. Marte missed about a month's worth of games early in the year, so you could convince me to go the other way, but I think he's a better Marlin to choose than Trevor Rogers, who is also a decent pick. Officially, no one's chosen which NL reserve will start at DH (I miss when home-team rules applied to the All-Star game...), but I'm going with Narváez, who didn't even make the official squad. What's a guy got to do beyond bat .303/.395/.462? I guess have the name recognition of Realmuto, who doesn't make the cut for me. I also left off Ozzie Albies in favor of ex-M Jean Segura, who has way better numbers. I'd have happily included Schwarber, but he's hurt. So Dodger Justin Turner gets the nod instead. The Commissioner's Office went with Escobar as the lone Diamondback, but he's like García over in the AL—big power, little ability otherwise—so I'm giving Arizona's slot to Kelly, their best all-around hitter in the absence of injured Ketel Marte (and a catcher to boot, allowing me to start Narváez as the DH). On the official team, Chris Taylor is an interesting choice; I don't really fault it (gotta respect that .382 OBP) and I do like seeing Taylor get the recognition, but the host Rockies need a representative and their best guy is Raimel Tapia. So enter Tapia, exit Taylor. Adding Tapia also means we don't have to include Marquez; he's a good pitcher, don't get me wrong, but other pitchers are having better seasons. Those include Buehler and Peralta, and as nice as Trevor Rogers' year has been, how do you omit Max Scherzer? That one's a head-scratcher for sure. Melancon is a fine choice, he's not having a Chapman-like down year, but someone had to go and we've got a few Padres already.

My starting pitchers? Ohtani, of course, for the AL and Scherzer for the NL. That's right, Scherzer, the guy with 127 Ks, a WHIP under 0.900, and a 2.10 ERA that got left off the real roster. By starting Ohtani, a first in baseball history happens as the AL team chooses not to use a designated hitter while the NL team does use it. The AL can simply pinch-hit for the pitcher's spot after Ohtani comes out of the game and have fun with double-switching. (I mean, if I really wanted to wield my imaginary power, the DH would just be eradicated in general. But we'll go with the new normal of every ASG using the DH for this exercise, just adjusting for Ohtani without bending any rules.)

Interestingly, on both the official roster and my alternate, the NL East-leading Mets have just one rep. OK, it's a pretty good one in deGrom, but in this year of pitching dominance it was just too tough to find a spot for starters Marcus Stroman and our old friend Taijuan Walker, or reliever and one-time Seattle All-Star Edwin Díaz, all having stellar years in Queens.

 It should be a fun game. Of course, I usually think that and more often than not of late, All-Star Games end up being snoozers. 2018 was a good one (with good Seattle contributions). Maybe we'll see another. I just hope we don't see extra innings—the legacy of Bud Selig's impotence in 2002 that gave us a tie ending led to the idiotic free-baserunner-in-extras rule we live with even in regular season games now and I just assume not be reminded of it.

Oh, and though it goes against the local favor, I'm rooting for the National League. The AL has been on a tear, winning the last seven ASGs and 25 of the last 32 (with that one ridiculous tie). Time for the pendulum to swing the other way for a while.

Comments

  • Posted by Bill on July 6, 2021 (3 months ago)

    Aroldis Chapman being an All-Star is an abomination. While his ERA was near zero entering late May... last 30 games: 5.06. Last 15 games: 11.57. Last 7 games: 16.88. Season ERA: 4.71. I know these guys all have pride, but if he has any honor he’ll decline to go. Graveman would be a just replacement, as would the Yanks’ Green and Loaisiga, and doubtless many others. As for Kitteridge, some locals would be happy if he were named too, as he pitched for UW.

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