J.P. Crawford hosed again for All-Star team
Passed over for a less-deserving choice, J.P. Crawford is dissed again
July 10, 2021
It was disappointing but understandable when the All-Star Game rosters were announced last weekend and the shortstop for Your Seattle Mariners, J.P. Crawford, was not among the names listed. Instead, deserving shortstops Xander Bogaerts (Boston), Bo Bichette (Toronto), and Carlos Correa (Houston) were named to the AL squad.
But then there were developments: Correa got sick and is now on the COVID-related injured list; and fellow Astro selections Ryan Pressly, José Altuve, and Michael Brantley all opted out of the game, citing various personal concerns. Not only does that leave the roster empty of Astros—which just makes it that much more appealing, frankly—it opened four slots for deserving replacements.
Now, the rules as currently in place are flawed and restrictive: when a vacancy opens on the roster, the rule says, who fills it depends on how the initial player was selected—if by player vote, then the spot has to go to the next runner-up on the player ballot for the affected position. Replacements for fan-elected or Commissioner-selected All-Stars are chosen by the Commissioner's office.
So, since Correa, Brantley, and Altuve were all named to the squad via player ballot, their replacements are supposed to be locked in. But only Correa's and Altuve's replacements—White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield—follow that rule. Brantley was not replaced by the next outfielder on the ballot, he wasn't even replaced by an outfielder; apparently rules can be ignored if you're the boss. (Or, a more charitable theory, perhaps all outfielders named on the player ballots were already on the team and not one other OF in the entire American League was picked by any players. Yeah, seems iffy.) Pressly wasn't selected via player ballot, so there was more leeway in choosing his replacement.
That leaves two spots open (or more if rules can be ignored) for the Commissioner's office to fill with no restrictions. Yes, they do have a dumb rule that says there must be 12 pitchers, but with two-way superhuman Shohei Ohtani on the roster they could fudge that by counting him as one of the 12. So, clearly, Crawford will be an All-Star, right?
Nope. Instead, the Commissioner's office chose, predictably, a pitcher for Pressly's spot in Oakland starter Chris Bassitt, a worthy choice and a guy that should have been on the team already, frankly. But the real slap in the face is who replaces Brantley: Tampa Bay Rays shortstop/third baseman Joey Wendle.
Wendle not only also plays the left side of the infield, taking away any positional balance argument one might have against J.P., but his offensive numbers aren't as good and his defense is nowhere near as good as Crawford's. Look:
|DRS = Defensive Runs Saved
RF/9 = Range Factor per 9 innings
Even if you wanted to dock J.P. for his splits, Wendle's are worse!
|vs. Left/Right Avg.||.325/.252||.175/.310|
|vs. Left/Right OBP||.372/.326||.243/.369|
|vs. Left/Right Slg.||.450/.361||.222/.533|
The only areas where Wendle outperforms Crawford are home runs and RBI, and it's by two each.
And if you want to argue that, hey, Wendle plays a lot of third base, so he's filling a hole for a third baseman, well, in that case you should have picked Chicago 3B Yoan Moncada (.274/.398/.391).
There's really no excuse for taking Wendle over Crawford (or Moncada, for that matter). Are the Rays somehow more worthy of a second rep than the Mariners? No, they barely rate one (and it's a guy that isn't going). Did Rob Manfred owe Joey Wendle some sort of favor? Who knows.
Bottom line is that J.P. was denied his due, but hey, we know how great he is. No matter how little respect he gets by the league office, here in Seattle we know the score.