All-Snub team features host of big names
Solid producers like Donaldson and Strasburg victims of numbers crunch
The good news is that with 66 guys already named to the rosters for the MLB All-Star Game and two more yet to come via the MLB.com Final Vote, there aren't an overwhelming number of clear-cut "I can't believe they missed that guy" snubs worth losing sleep over.
The bad news is that, yes, some guys still got hosed.
Hey, it happens every year. And even when it doesn't happen, there will always be fans clamoring and claiming that their guy was done wrong.
Just for fun, I did a Twitter search for "snubbed" in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's All-Star announcements to see what folks were saying, and, sure enough, I found one Yankee fan bemoaning the absence of Derek Jeter, who, you know, has yet to play a game this season.
Jeter didn't exactly get snubbed, but a few others did. And while the dissing they're enduring is very much subject to change -- a multitude of injury and Sunday starter replacements will take place between now and the moment the actual first pitch is thrown July 16 at Citi Field -- here is the 2013 All-Snubbed Team (all stats entering Saturday):
C: Carlos Santana, Indians: Santana is second only to Joe Mauer among AL catchers in OPS (.832), but on an AL roster with three catchers, he didn't make the cut. His defense didn't help him, but superior defensive work didn't do much good for Russell Martin of the Pirates, who also mounted a very strong case for inclusion.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: You might be able to mount an argument that Paul Goldschmidt deserves the NL starting nod over Joey Votto, but really, there's not a great deal of fault to be found at first base. Gonzo, though, does merit mentioning with a rebound season that has seen him hit .300 with an .845 OPS. And the man he replaced at first base in Los Angeles -- James Loney -- has bounced back pretty well himself with the Rays. Neither got a nod. Freddie Freeman also had an All-Star-type first half (.309/.385/.468). Freeman and Gonzalez are on the Final Vote ballot, but it's very easy to see them getting overshadowed by the Yasiel Puig phenomenon.
2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels: This is what happens when one shares a league and a position with Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano, and then Jason Kipnis hits .419 with 17 extra-base hits in June. Kendrick, your .317 average, 10 homers and 39 RBIs go unrecognized. Omar Infante of the Tigers also had a terrific first half.
SS: Ian Desmond, Nationals: He leads all MLB shortstops in RBIs (49) and slugging percentage (.506), and he's tied with the O's J.J. Hardy with 15 homers. The problem for Desmond is that Everth Cabrera of the Padres and Jean Segura of the Brewers have both been at least equally as good this season, and Cabrera is the lone Padres rep. At least Desmond is a Final Vote candidate.
3B: Evan Longoria, Rays, and Josh Donaldson, A's: Sorry, you're not going to get me to choose between Longoria and Donaldson for this spot. They've already been through enough. Miguel Cabrera and Manny Machado deservedly got the All-Star nods out of an AL third-base crop that is devastatingly deep -- to the point that it's all too easy to overlook Kyle Seager and the always excellent Adrian Beltre. As far as the Midsummer Classic is concerned, Longoria and Donaldson are simply in the wrong position at the wrong time. Longoria (.295 average, 17 homers, 49 RBIs) is simply one of the best all-around players in the sport, and Donaldson (.313, 14, 55) has had a major breakout for the contending A's.
That the A's only have one All-Star representative at present (starter Bartolo Colon) is certainly eye-opening.
"I feel like we're probably one of the best teams in all of baseball, and we deserve more than one guy," Donaldson said. "And I'm not talking about for me. You've got [Grant] Balfour, Jed [Lowrie] is one of the top-hitting shortstops in the game right now. I just feel like there are more guys than just one in here that are All-Stars, and that's why we've been so good."
OF: Jay Bruce, Reds; Starling Marte, Pirates; Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: If, at the end of April, you'd have told me, say, Justin Upton and Shin-Soo Choo not only wouldn't make the All-Star team, but also wouldn't make my prestigious All-Snubbed team, I wouldn't have believed it. But Upton has hit just three homers since April, and Choo's numbers have also plummeted in recent weeks.
Bruce, meanwhile, had an awful April that likely held him out of the Midsummer Classic, but it's really hard to ignore his .946 OPS and 17 homers between May 1 and June 30. His 56 RBIs rank sixth among Major League outfielders. He's more deserving this year than he was last year, when he actually made the team.
"Somebody is going to get overlooked all the time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was surprised he made it last year."
In a game that serves to celebrate both the established talent and the game's new wave of stars, it would have been nice to see Marte included. He's been a big spark atop the order for the first-place Pirates. His Wins Above Replacement mark (3.2) is sixth among Major League outfielders (according to FanGraphs.com), and he's simply fun to watch. Ellsbury leads all outfielders in steals (33) and is right behind Marte in the WAR count, and the AL only has one center fielder (Trout) on the roster.
Guys like Brett Gardner, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Daniel Nava, Gerardo Parra and Coco Crisp also had decent arguments.
SP: Stephen Strasburg: Few pitchers have had their careers start out with the kind of hype Strasburg received in 2010. And yet here we are in 2013, and you can make an argument that Strasburg has somehow been overlooked. Granted, he missed a couple weeks on the disabled list. But Strasburg nonetheless has made 16 starts and has the third-best ERA in the NL (2.24). FanGraphs gives him an adjusted ERA that ranks behind just Clayton Kershaw and Jeff Locke, both All-Stars. Strasburg didn't make the NL Final Vote list, either.
There are always going to be several starters who have a strong statistical argument to an All-Star spot they didn't receive. This year, that list includes not only Strasburg but Shelby Miller, who has been one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Matt Moore and Derek Holland.
RP: Mark Melancon, Pirates: Relievers are tricky. The All-Star selections obviously gravitate toward closers, and even then there are guys like the A's Balfour, who is a perfect 22-for-22 in save situations, and the Cardinals' Edward Mujica, who is 22-for-23, who get the shaft. They both stand out as entirely deserving.
But the guys who really get overlooked are the supreme setup men, and while the White Sox Jesse Crain justly got his due, Melancon did not. Melancon has been instrumental in the Pirates' spot in the standings with a miniscule 0.87 ERA in 42 appearances with 24 holds.
"Since '08, there's been a heightened awareness of taking eighth-inning guys," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "If you take four closers, you're asking them to pitch the seventh or the eighth [in the All-Star Game], something they're not accustomed to doing. I think we now have a better understanding of the value and the fit. But it's still a long shot."
And no matter how many roster spots there are, there will always be a snub or three.