Posted July 07, 2013

Puig a Final Vote candidate, Longoria snubbed as NL outshines AL on All-Star selection day

All-Star Game
Bryce Harper edged-out Justin Upton for the NL's final All-Star outfield spot.

Bryce Harper becomes the youngest All-Star game starter since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990. (AP)

For all of the concern about how the National League All-Star roster was going to pan out, from a problematic fan vote, to the Yasiel Puig debate, the roster announced Saturday evening, a collaboration between the fans, players, and NL manager Bruce Bochy, is surprisingly satisfying and lacking in significant snubs. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the AL roster.

As hoped, Bryce Harper surpassed Justin Upton in the fan voting for the final NL outfield spot between the last update we received Tuesday and the end of voting at midnight Thursday. Meanwhile, Puig has been included on the Final Vote ballot for the 34th roster spot, allowing fans to put him on the roster. That was expected. What wasn’t expected was the NL players and Bochy doing such a good job filling out the remainder of the NL roster. There really is no other player on that final ballot who demands inclusion over Puig.

On Friday, I attempted to flesh out the NL roster in this space, assuming Harper would pass Upton and being sure to properly construct the roster and represent every team. Much to my surprise and delight, the final NL roster doesn’t differ tremendously from the one I assembled.

Most surprisingly, the actual NL roster includes just three relievers, as mine did. Two of those relievers differ from mine, but Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman are acceptable alternatives to Edward Mujica and Mark Melancon, particularly if you favor star power over first-half performance. Limiting the roster to three relievers means more room for far more valuable starting pitchers, who are well represented here, even with the surprising inclusion of Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher who wasn’t even on my All-Star radar.

Full 2013 AL and NL All-Star Game rosters

In fact, the only NL picks that are at all problematic to me are Giants Bumgarner and Marco Scutaro. We don’t know yet if those were Bochy’s picks (the NL manager only gets nine picks, many of which are usually needed to make sure each team is represented), but even if they were, one of the privileges of being the All-Star manager is getting to take one too many of your own men. Either way, Bumgarner and Scutaro are far from awful choices, even if I’d rather see two of Ian Desmond, Russell Martin, Gerardo Parra, or Jorge De La Rosa in their place. Desmond is included in the Final Vote, as is Freddie Freeman, who was my lone Braves representative in place of Kimbrel. I’m still voting for Puig.

The NL’s strength is the source of the AL’s shortcomings. The AL has too many pitchers (15 to the NL’s 13) and too many of those men are relievers (six to the NL’s three). That means less room for both starting pitchers and position players and thus problematic snubs, a situation made worse by poor choices elsewhere.

Correction: Two of the AL’s pitchers are injury replacements for Clay Buchholz and Jesse Crain, so the two squads both have 13 pitchers, but the AL still has five relievers to the NL’s three.

The most egregious error is the selection of Ben Zobrist, instead of Evan Longoria, as the Rays’ lone representative despite Zobrist being the fourth second baseman (or seventh outfielder) on the AL roster. Longoria and Josh Donaldson, who is also missing from the AL roster, are both among the top eight position players in the league according to Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement. Yet somehow, the AL roster wound up with five relievers none of whom is his team’s lone representative, and neither Longoria nor Donaldson. Apparently the AL just couldn’t do without Brett Cecil and Glen Perkins.

Nor without the winner of the Final Vote ballot, which is comprised entirely of set-up men (the winner will be that fifth AL reliever). That ballot shows contempt for the system, which wasn’t in place the last time AL manager Jim Leyland was an All-Star skipper in 2007. That ballot should contain the names of the most deserving players who, for whatever reason, were either snubbed or just didn’t fit. Players like Longoria, Donaldson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Santana, Howie Kendrick, even James Loney. Not one of those players is on the ballot. Instead we get more relievers, including Joaquin Benoit, who would be the seventh Tiger on the roster if voted in by the fans.

With regard to those Tigers, Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and Jhonny Peralta all deserve to be All-Stars, and I suppose it’s hard to argue Prince Fielder or Justin Verlander shouldn’t  be, but neither of those last two is performing up to his established standard this season. Torii Hunter is a questionable choice as well. Again, we don’t know how many of those, save for Cabrera, who was rightly voted in by the fans, were Leyland’s picks (he only gets eight), but we do know he was involved in picking the candidates for the Final Vote.

 

36 comments
Harlan
Harlan

The National League has 3 starters who are (at best) 5th in their league in value at their positions, and have no business starting (Brandon Phillips, Bryce Harper, and Carlos Beltran).  The American League has one such player - Adam Jones. 

Yet the NL did a "better" job in selecting the roster?  Where, planet Bizarro?

AnnabelLee
AnnabelLee

So a baseball pundit likes the NL roster and dislikes the AL picks.  Guess the AL will win this year.

SlamaLama
SlamaLama

If the players did the voting, Puig wouldn't even have had a chance to be in the AS game. Is the AS game a popularity contest? Or is it about getting home field advantage?

JakeBrown
JakeBrown

So, you're saying if a player hasn't played to "his established standard" yet has played well enough to be an all-star, he should be left off the team?

BlakeBradley
BlakeBradley

Bryce Harper is batting .263. WTF??? Why isnt Papelbon running his mouth about that?

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

"particularly if you favor star power over first-half performance." - That's my problem with the all-star game in general.  Guys get in on name alone, regardless of stats, and that's from the fan vote as well as the player votes.

I hate having the fans vote, and the fact that we can vote as much as we want, and teams encourage fans to blindly vote their players across the board, deserving or not, is a sham.  Leave it up to the managers, front office personnel, players, and sports writers from each ML city.  And the managers (Bochy and Leyland) don't get to pick anybody, or only pick the final vote guys.  If your argument is that this is a fan game, then take the reward (home field advantage) out of the mix.  I like the old days where you basically had to go to a live game and vote at the stadium.

BetterReadThanThisArticle
BetterReadThanThisArticle

"There really is no other player on that final ballot who demands inclusion over Puig." Well, isn't this the point? No one can really demand anything, it's an All Star Game and therefore subjective. Who's demanding? You? If it were up to the demands of all fans from every team then there would be 100 man rosters.  So alas, people who get paid to manage the game (Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy) must make some decisions that will cause little fanboys like you, Clifford, to start crying. Little substance in the article, just whining without actually putting any thought into it. Not even a little consideration for an opposing viewpoint from your own.  Since I have a little free time right now, I will attempt to do this for you.

I will focus on the American League since I am from an AL market (Detroit) and I am not getting paid like you are, Clifford.  People like you get to choose the starters (thank God that's it) and the players fill the roster to a size of 26.  The roster is set for 33 players, so by using some basic mathematics we can derive that there are 7 positions left to be filled by the manager.  We do know how many Tigers were picked by Leyland. Only one, him being Justin Verlander.  The others were picked by players or fans.  For the remaining 7, at least one player Leyland needed to pick from the A's, Astros, Rays, and Indians.  Clay Buchholz (SP) and Jesse Crain (RP) were chosen by the players but are on the DL so Leyland decided to replace them with Bartolo Colon (SP) and Glen Perkins (RP). This move took care of having at least one player representing the A's.  

So now let's move on to why the remaining players were chosen.  We need to keep in mind that home field advantage for the World Series is on the line.  As a Tigers fan, I would have really liked my team to have home field against the Giants last year.  But you wouldn't understand, Clifford, you are probably an Astros fan.  Jim Leyland happens to manage one of the front-runners for this event, my Tigers, and so "snubbing" players for no reason seems highly illogical.

BEN ZOBRIST: Needed a Rays representative. Can play many positions on the field, a useful quality in late innings. As to why not Evan Longoria? A legitimate question.  But as a manager, if you have Miguel Cabrera and Manny Machado on your roster, do you really care who else on your team you have at 3rd? A super utility guy like Zobrist or another shutdown reliever has more value late in the game when you consider the talent already at 3rd base.

JASON CASTRO: Blame the system here. Needed an Astros representative.  The best out of that terrible group. I don't agree with this policy and I think you could have mentioned it in your article, Clifford.

JASON KIPNIS: Representative for the Indians (along with Masterson, see below).  Player of the month in June. Power left-handed bat. Pretty much a perfect All-Star game pinch-hitter.

JUSTIN MASTERSON, JUSTIN VERLANDER, CHRIS SALE, BRETT CECIL: Shows an emphasis on pitching. Big strikeout numbers from this group. What's the best chance to beat good hitters? Strike them out. You can't bat all your 5 All-Star 3rd basemen at once!

If you want all the guys you have on the posters in your room to make the squad, Clifford, then write an article demanding the commissioner to make the game a true exhibition with no repercussions rather than one demanding Josh Donaldson be on the team. Clifford, I just explained how and why, suggested a potential problem, and provided a rational solution. True journalism would have layers such as those, like an onion, or ogres. 

umdet13
umdet13

Actually, the AL roster sounds pretty solid for how the game is played.  Given you already know many of the starters aren't going to pitch, more relievers makes sense instead of additional pinch hitters for their one obligatory AB.

If you want it to be a neutral exhibition for only the very most deserving players, then the game needs to go back to being a neutral exhibition.

Tom14
Tom14

I remember in the 1970's when the National League dominated the All Star Game it was  because the starters came from the best teams while the American League was a hodge podge. The climax was 1976 when the Detroit Tigers who where mired in last place had 3 starters including a rookie Mark Fidrych and an aging Rusty Staub and Ron Leflore the rest of the team had reps from 6 different teams. By contrast the NL had 5 of the 9 from the World Series winners the Cincinnati Reds.

joshwolff221
joshwolff221

Jesse Crain is not the White Sox's lone representative. Chris Sale says hello.

Michael10
Michael10

"There really is no other player on that final ballot who demands inclusion over Puig."

No, Cliff, you're right -- all the players who deserved inclusion over Puig were curiously left off the Final Vote ballot. I would think you of all people would be outraged at the omission of "WAR darlings" Starling Marte and Gerardo Parra, the two most glaring NL snubs (who are much more deserving than obvious Bochy selections Scutaro and Bumgarner). Bigger run producers like Jay Bruce or Shin-Soo Choo should have been on the final ballot before Puig, or top rookies like Ryu and Miller. It's pretty clear MLB didn't want to provide any real challenge for Puig to win the Final Vote.

So who has the best chance as the anti-Puig candidate in the Final Vote? I'm going to throw my votes behind Hunter Pence -- I think the SF ballot-stuffers might just be able to get the job done...

Zach
Zach

The Oakland A's get nationally snubbed again - Lowrie, Donaldson, and Balfour all have really strong cases, but the team is invisible. Hopefully those three take it personally and SIZZLE in the second half!

BrosephVanSlyke
BrosephVanSlyke

After last week's series between Detroit and Tampa, I sort of figured that we wouldn't see that many Rays on the roster. But Zobrist over Longoria is just flat out dumb.

KevinDoucette
KevinDoucette

@SlamaLama It's an exhibition game.Nothing more. That's why they players 30 players each. It's ridiculous that this game decides home field advantage in the World Series.

Michael10
Michael10

@BlakeBradleyNeither Papelbon nor Bochy put Harper on the team -- fanboys and cheerleaders like Cliff Corcoran did (the same guy who wanted to dismiss everyone under 3 WAR to make room for Puig...)

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

And do away with the whole "every team needs to be represented" thing...guys on bad teams know they're only there because of that rule, that they aren't true all-stars.

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

@BetterReadThanThisArticle 

Jose Altuve would have been a better pick to represent the Astros than Jason Castro, but 2B is such a tough spot in the AL.  Fans got the vote wrong there by picking Cano over Pedroia, Kendrick, or Donaldson.

Michael10
Michael10

Where did you find the breakdown on who the players picked and who Leyland picked? I didn't know that had been made public?

(And Leyland would have had 8 picks after the 9 starters were selected by fans and 16 others by players. He also had a say in the Final Vote candidates.)

jg65
jg65

@Michael10 Don't forget the Phillies fans, they're sure to help Pence, too. Anyone except Puig should be voted in. He doesn't deserve it after just a month in the big leagues, and his attitude as a rookie leaves a lot to be desired.  Someone in the Dodgers organization should have a nice, long, talk with him.  He's not a class act, by any means.

Hellzyeah
Hellzyeah

@Michael10 I hope you're right about Pence or other deserving candidates....although Corocoran has hitched his journalistic angle to Puig's jock for page views and won't care if you make a rational argument or not.

BrosephVanSlyke
BrosephVanSlyke

@Zach And the guy they got in the game (Bartolo Colon) is a known cheater. Can't believe they let a cheater on the team.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Zach Why would professionals need an all-star game snub to get motivated to play?

BetterReadThanThisArticle
BetterReadThanThisArticle

 @MarkDiGiacomo I forgot about Altuve, he is a better player than Castro for sure.    Castro is having a decent year for the catcher position, probably why he was chosen. Either one would be third on the depth chart.

MarkDiGiacomo
MarkDiGiacomo

@Michael10 MLB.com article specifically said how the guys were named to the teams (as far as fan vote, player vote, or coaches selection)

BetterReadThanThisArticle
BetterReadThanThisArticle

@Michael10An article by Danny Knobler, who I have been following since he was a beat writer for my Tigers and is a fantastic journalist.  Also, you are correct about the final vote, those are Leyland's choices.  The selections further show his emphasis on having a shutdown bullpen.  

Michael10
Michael10

@Hellzyeah @Michael10 No, but I like to call Cliff out personally because I've been following his inconsistency for two seasons now. For example, the way he only champions WAR statistics when they favor his argument. (Note he doesn't even mention Allen Craig -- who is to WAR what last year's Orioles were to run differential -- as a surprise here, despite the fact that Craig wasn't even on his AS "radar" in last night's highly convoluted article.)

If Corcoran operated on consistent logic rather than "fanboyism" he'd have been pushing both Marte or Parra over Puig, who has become his new favorite toy (much to the jealousy of  last year's fling, Mike Trout).

Michael10
Michael10

@JoeCabot @Zach He didn't say motivated to play, he said to SIZZLE...

You don't think the way Yadier Molina has taken his game to the next level at age 30 has even the slightest bit to do with MVP voters who continue to snub him for what they consider offensive "shortcomings"?

Professional or not, they're still human, and humans -- even elitely talented ones -- are often motivated by recognition.

Michael10
Michael10

@nyjets011269@yadda71@Michael10He's hitting .257 -- and slugging close to .600 (only Davis, Cabrera and Ortiz are higher) with 21 HRs in only 245 ABs (only Davis has a better rate). At 41, I'd have much rather seen him get a final shot than many of the players who made the cut...

Michael10
Michael10

@yadda71 @Michael10 Worthier than some -- the BA and OBP probably killed his chances. Still would have been a more exciting Final Vote candidate than what we're stuck with given his postseason heroics.

And, at 41 with a single previous AS appearance, would have been a much better "feel good" baseball story than Puig...