Mariners snubbed (for now) with All-Star selections
July 11, 2022
Major League Baseball announced the reserve rosters for the All-Star teams yesterday, and they included a few surprises. The biggest being the absence of a certain Tyler Lawrence France.
As we discussed on Saturday, the selection process for the All-Star teams is not as simple as it once was; player balloting accounts for most of the reserve picks, and as such there is less flexibility in who gets chosen than there was before. Player ballots require a choice at every position, just like the fan voting does, plus pitchers; it breaks down pitcher selections by starter and reliever, ensuring at least three relievers make each squad.
If the players' choice was also elected by the fans, then the runner-up on the players' vote gets the nod. This year, the results of player balloting gave us these selections:
|AMERICAN LEAGUE||NATIONAL LEAGUE|
|C||José Treviño||New York||C||Travis d'Arnaud||Atlanta|
|1B/2B||Luis Arraez||Minnesota||1B||Pete Alonso||New York|
|2B||Andres Giménez||Cleveland||2B||Jeff McNeil||New York|
|3B||José Ramírez||Cleveland||3B||Nolan Arenado||St. Louis|
|SS||Xander Bogaerts||Boston||SS||Dansby Swanson||Atlanta|
|OF||Byron Buxton||Minnesota||OF||Ian Happ||Chicago|
|OF||George Springer||Toronto||OF||Starling Marte||New York|
|OF||Kyle Tucker||Houston||OF||Kyle Schwarber||Philadelphia|
|DH||Yordan Alvarez||Houston||DH||William Contreras||Atlanta|
|SP||Gerrit Cole||New York||SP||Sandy Alcantara||Miami|
|SP||Nestor Cortes||New York||SP||Corbin Burnes||Milwaukee|
|SP||Alek Manoah||Toronto||SP||Tony Gonsolin||Los Angeles|
|SP||Shane McClanahan||Tampa Bay||SP||Joe Musgrove||San Diego|
|SP||Justin Verlander||Houston||SP||Max Fried||Atlanta|
|RP||Emmanuel Clase||Cleveland||RP||Edwin Díaz||New York|
|RP||Clay Holmes||New York||RP||Josh Hader||Milwaukee|
|RP||Jorge López||Baltimore||RP||Ryan Helsey||St. Louis|
Add those to the fan-elected starters:
|AMERICAN LEAGUE||NATIONAL LEAGUE|
|C||Alejandro Kirk||Toronto||C||Willson Contreras||Chicago|
|1B||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||Toronto||1B||Paul Goldschmidt||St. Louis|
|2B||José Altuve||Houston||2B||Jazz Chisholm Jr.||Miami|
|3B||Rafael Devers||Boston||3B||Manny Machado||San Diego|
|SS||Tim Anderson||Chicago||SS||Trea Turner||Los Angeles|
|OF||Aaron Judge||New York||OF||Ronald Acuña Jr.||Atlanta|
|OF||Mike Trout||Los Angeles||OF||Mookie Betts||Los Angeles|
|OF||Giancarlo Stanton||New York||OF||Joc Pederson||San Francisco|
|DH/P||Shohei Ohtani||Los Angeles||DH||Bryce Harper||Philadelphia|
...and we have 26 of 32 slots filled on each side, leaving just six for the Commissioner's Office to fill out. Now, the rule that each team must have a representative is the first priority for those remaining spots and we see that in the AL there are no Detroit, Texas, Seattle, Kansas City, or Oakland players. Five will go to those, leaving just one to play with. On the NL side, we need reps for Pittsburgh, Colorado, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Washington. Again, just one left after that. The official choices for those lone reps:
|AMERICAN LEAGUE||NATIONAL LEAGUE|
|OF||Julio Rodríguez||Seattle||1B||C.J. Cron||Colorado|
|OF||Andrew Benintendi||Kansas City||OF||Juan Soto||Washington|
|SP||Paul Blackburn||Oakland||SP||Luis Castillo||Cincinnati|
|SP||Martín Pérez||Texas||RP||David Bednar||Pittsburgh|
|RP||Gregory Soto||Detroit||RP||Joe Mantiply||Arizona|
All of the Commissioner's choices are also on my own roster, save for Blackburn and Mantiply. Blackburn's inclusion makes sense given the "need" under the rules to have 12 pitchers (incidentally, Shohei Ohtani was also a Commissioner choice as a pitcher, but he's already on the team as the starting DH; the league could count him toward their 12 pitcher requirement, but chose not to). Where I chose catcher Sean Murphy as the only Oakland Athletic to make the team, as the catcher position is remarkably woeful league-wide, the players elected Treviño, and no way you have both Treviño and Murphy, so, sure, Blackburn. Mantiply is an OK choice; there's no one from the Diamondbacks screaming "pick me!" and he's got good numbers, though I would have gone with third baseman José Rojas as an everyday player over a middle reliever if not for the lame 12 pitcher rule.
So one left on each side. The league decided on starting pitchers Framber Valdez (Houston) and Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers). To conform to the dumb 12 pitcher rule, the NL needed a pitcher, but as mentioned, the AL did not as it has Ohtani. We then conclude that the Commissioner's Office feels that Framber Valdez deserves to be an All-Star more than Ty France does. Or Logan Gilbert does. Or Trey Mancini, José Aberu, or Dylan Cease. As for Kershaw, is he more deserving than Zack Wheeler, Miles Mikolas, or Carlos Rodon?
|Framber Valdez (HOU)||8-4||2.64||109||1.101||40:96|
|Logan Gilbert (SEA)||10-3||2.80||106||1.170||29:100|
|Dylan Cease (CWS)||7-4||2.45||92||1.228||43:133|
|Ty France (SEA)||.306||.379||.460||18||73|
|Trey Mancini (BAL)||.284||.357||.421||8||35|
|José Abreu (CWS)||.292||.378||.460||10||40|
We can eliminate Mancini and Abreu, France has them beat. But Valdez doesn't have Gilbert's victories or Cease's strikeouts, and Gilbert also has that 29:100 ratio going for him. I'd choose Gilbert or Cease over Valdez and given Ohtani's presence makes it not a requirement to choose a pitcher, France goes ahead of either. Plus, Valdez makes five Astros. Sure, they're having a good year, but given the options, spread the wealth.
|Clayton Kershaw (LAD)||6-2||2.40||632⁄3||1.005||12:69|
|Miles Mikolas (STL)||5-7||2.72||106||0.991||22:83|
|Carlos Rodon (SF)||8-5||2.70||100||1.060||32:124|
|Zack Wheeler (PHI)||8-4||2.46||95||1.053||21:104|
One could argue that Kershaw is least deserving of these four because of his relative lack of innings. Mikolas' WHIP is extraordinary. Wheeler's BB:K ratio is stellar. Rodon's is too. Kershaw's selection is not as big a head-scratcher as Valdez's is, and it might simply be a sop to the host venue of Dodger Stadium to have another LA representative (they have four). Wheeler would give the roster a second active Philadelphia rep, as elected DH Bryce Harper is injured and will not play. He'll be replaced, but that hasn't happened yet; William Contreras will start in Harper's stead, but someone else (a position player—I nominate Austin Riley) will be named to fill the vacant spot.
Now, this isn't final. Players in addition to Harper will get replaced, either because of injury or a personal choice not to participate. Yordan Alvarez just went on the injured list, so he'll likely be out. Jazz Chisolm is on the IL, though he might be back in time to play. But there's a week between now and the break, and if history is any guide, stuff will happen and a few openings will come up. France could still get in.
The players' choices make me wonder when the balloting occurred; I mean, Buxton is a great center fielder, but he's batting .215 with a sub-.300 on-base mark. He started strong, though, so if players voted for him in early May it would make more sense. But early May? Really? Springer's numbers were also way better back in early May, though they stayed decent through about a month ago. And Kyle Tucker... him I just don't get. Solid OBP, yes, but players chose him over all the other AL outfielders, including Julio? Julio hadn't really cranked things up by mid-May, neither had Mancini nor Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (And are the player ballots segregated in the same way the fan ballots are, with names tied to specific positions only? That would explain Arraez as a first baseman even though he's played almost as many innings as a second baseman.)
I have to conclude that the player voting happens way too early. There might be logistical reasons for that, but it's a problem to be fixed in some way. Even if that way gives the player vote fewer selections or gets a reduced number of voters; players themselves will tell you that a month's worth of statistics is not a representative sample. You need at least two, preferably two and a half. Let the players vote starting, say, three weeks before the All-Star break. Announce the results a week before. Two weeks seems like plenty of time to vote and tally, right?