First and foremost, congratulations to Ryan Cook on making the American League All-Star team in 2012. To most Oakland A's fans and even the media, Cook was a throw-in to the trade that shipped out Trevor Cahill and brought in Jarrod Parker. As it turned out, he just might have been the biggest component to swing the deal in Oakland's favor.
Do not misunderstand that statement: Jarrod Parker, long-term, has a chance to be the A's ace and could very well be an all-star himself down the line. He is the centerpiece to this trade, but Parker alone would have evened the deal out.
Instead, the A's acquired a solid, gritty outfielder in Colin Cowgill and a guy who could be their solution at closer going forward. Not a bad haul from Billy Beane whatsoever.
Cook impressed right out of the gate, firing 23 1/3 scoreless innings before allowing two runs against the Minnesota Twins on May 28th. In spite of a couple of recent hiccups, his ERA sits at a sparkling 1.59 on the year. There is no doubt he belongs as more than just a team representative, but you can certainly make the case for a pair of his teammates as well.
First, I would make the case for Brandon McCarthy. In spite of his injury issues, McCarthy is 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA which would be good for fourth in the American League if he qualified for innings (he is one inning short with 78 innings pitched in 79 games played for the A's).
There are those who argue his performance is a product of pitching at the Oakland Coliseum, and there is some validity to that, but McCarthy actually has a better record (3-1) on the road than he does at home (3-2). In addition, his road ERA is inflated by one sub-par start in Anaheim against the Angels when he allowed five runs on 11 hits in seven innings.
The other Oakland player who deserved to go to Kansas City this year is Josh Reddick. While Reddick has scuffed a touch heading into the all-star break, there is no doubt his bat carried the A's for a stretch, particularly when Yoenis Cespedes was out with injury.
Reddick's 18 home runs (and counting) are the most for an A's player before the break since Nick Swisher in 2006, and his 39 RBIs should be taken in the context of the A's only scoring 297 total. He leads the A's in five major categories (batting average, home runs, RBI's, runs, and OPS) and has done it in stretches where he was the only threat on the team.
In the end though, the A's are treated no differently than the Astros, Royals, Pirates, Mariners, etc. In other words, be happy you are allowed a player to represent your team and get out of the way so the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Rangers and whatever flavor of the month is being served can shine. That's fine, except there are 25 other teams for a reason. And as a team of the 83 percent, I think the A's deserved more recognition.