Earlier this afternoon, Tony LaRussa announced his starting lineup for the National League in the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, which is tomorrow night on July 10 at 8 PM eastern time. The lineup itself was not too bad for the most part, but LaRussa did make one questionable decision.
Being that the All-Star Game is in Kansas City, an American League stadium, the DH rule will be in effect for this game. As a result, LaRussa had the freedom to choose which reserve hitter would start at DH. A few players in particular were worthy of the honor and LaRussa ultimately selected Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez as the starting DH for the National League, who was certainly worthy of the honor in a way.
While Gonzalez may have been worthy to a certain degree, the best choice for this honor was clearly Mets third baseman David Wright, who has asserted himself as not just the best hitter, but also the best position player in all of baseball right now. This does not mean that Gonzalez is not deserving at all, but rather that something is missing with Wright not being in the starting lineup.
Here are five reasons why Wright would have been the most worthy starting DH for the National League team.
LaRussa's reasoning behind having Gonzalez lead off as the DH was because of his speed, but the fact of the matter is that Wright is just as fast—if not faster—than Gonzalez.
Wright may only have nine stolen bases this year, but Gonzalez isn't too far ahead at 11. That is one of the very few stats that Gonzalez is doing better at than Wright. For the most part, though, Wright has had a better year.
Gonzalez is batting a very respectable .330, but Wright is third in the league with a .351 average. In runs scored, Gonzalez leads the league with 61 and Wright has 56, so that category is rather even.
The hits are pretty much even as well, with Gonzalez at 104 and Wright at 106. Wright has Gonzalez in doubles with 27, compared to Gonzalez's 19 doubles.
They are nearly identical in RBI, with Wright at 59 RBI and Gonzalez at 58 RBI. Their slugging percentages are also similar, with Wright at .563 and Gonzalez at .578.
Wright has a significant advantage in walks with 50, compared to Gonzalez with only 30 walks. This walks advantage has also led to Wright having a much higher OBP at .441—which is second in the league—compared to Gonzalez's .389 OBP. As a result, Wright also has a higher OPS at 1.004. Gonzalez's OPS is at .967, which is great, but not at Wright's level.
Gonzalez has also struck out 73 times compared to Wright, who is at 47 strikeouts.
The only real statistical advantage that Gonzalez has over Wright is the fact that Gonzalez has 17 home runs and Wright only has 11—but that isn't even a huge difference. If anything, Gonzalez playing his home games at Coors Field could have possibly tainted this comparison because of the thin air in Denver.
As the sports show goes, the numbers never lie. With this being said, Wright is statistically having the better season and by a noticeable margin.
Not only Wright having a better season than Gonzalez, but he is also having the best season of anyone in the entire sport.
The only other player who might have a statistical season that's better overall than Wright is Joey Votto of the Reds. However, due to the fact that Votto actually has a legitimate supporting cast in his offense compared to Wright, this means that Wright has been more valuable to his team than anyone else.
Wright is batting .351 with 11 home runs, 59 RBI, 56 runs scored, 106 hits, 27 doubles, nine stolen bases, 50 walks, a .441 OBP, a .563 slugging percentage and a 1.004 OPS. He has a 4.7 wins above replacement rating, which is among the top 10 in the league. It shows how valuable Wright has been to the Mets.
Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista may both have a lot more home runs than Wright, but their batting averages are both much lower than that of Wright.
Speaking of home runs, Wright may only have 11 home runs right now, but he will almost certainly get to around 25 home runs by the end of the season. If he has a particularly large power streak in the second half, he could even get to 30 home runs for just the third time in his career.
The fact of the matter is that Wright will hit a lot more home runs in the second half of the season. His current power numbers should not overlook the fact that he is clearly the best hitter in all of baseball.
Tony LaRussa's thought process on naming Carlos Gonzalez as his starting DH for the All-Star Game also does not make sense due to the position depth of the roster itself.
Chipper Jones was named as a replacement for Matt Kemp, while David Freese won the NL final vote. Both, of course, are third basemen, which gives the National League four third basemen. Most would consider that excessive for one position in one game.
If Wright was the starting DH, then Freese or Jones could fill in for Pablo Sandoval midway through the game. The other would probably come in either at DH or in a situational pinch-hitting role.
As for the NL outfielders, there are now five reserves—which would have been six if Gonzalez had not been named the starting DH. Three of these outfielders will come in for the starters, with possibly one going in as a DH and another as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.
Another interesting fact is that there are only two NL first basemen: Joey Votto and Bryan LaHair. There are also just two shortstops for the NL in Rafael Furcal and Starlin Castro, with Ian Desmond not playing in the game due to injuries.
The fact that there are four third basemen and just two first basemen and two shortstops makes no sense.
One possibility during the game itself could be that some of the third basemen do not end up playing third base. Freese has experience at first base while Wright has made two appearances at shortstop during his career—one of them occurring this year.
At least one of Freese playing first base or Wright playing shortstop could happen just to give everyone an opportunity to play during the nine innings. Jones played left field for the Braves in 2002 and 2003, but is probably not agile enough at this point in his career to play the position in the All-Star Game.
Regardless of how the game itself plays out, the roster depth (or lack of) in certain positions on the National League roster makes no sense. The fact that Wright is not the starting DH when there are four third basemen on the roster doesn't either.
During the fan voting period, many Giants fans showered Pablo Sandoval with many All-Star votes that he did not particularly deserve.
Wright's snub of a starting spot at third base was one of the worst snubs in All-Star Game history. It showed that Sandoval, in a way, was being recognized as a better player—which is far from the truth.
Many Mets fans remained hopeful that Tony LaRussa would make the right decision by selecting Wright as the starting DH. After all, Wright is the best hitter in baseball right now, so this would have somewhat satisfied Mets fans across the globe.
It was bad enough that LaRussa did not name R.A. Dickey as the starting pitcher, when he has been by far the best pitcher in the game. The fact that LaRussa did not select Wright as the starting DH probably raised some questions as to whether LaRussa has something against the Mets and was trying to create a conspiracy that he is against the Mets and their players.
There is no known history of the Mets disappointing and upsetting LaRussa in any particular way. If anything, the Mets are upset at the Cardinals for ruining what should have been their own championship season in 2006.
Whatever conspiracy theory LaRussa has against the Mets does not make a lot of sense and, if LaRussa could ever make a statement on whether he has anything personal against the Mets, it would definitely clear up any thoughts of whether LaRussa was planning this supposed conspiracy theory all along.
LaRussa has been around baseball long enough to recognize that not a single position player in baseball can match up to Wright's ability in any aspect of the game. There is a very good chance LaRussa may have something against Wright or the Mets and, until he makes a statement on this matter, many people will continue to believe this conspiracy theory.
If Tony LaRussa had used any history to factor in on his decision to start Carlos Gonzalez at DH in the All-Star Game over David Wright, he would have recognized that Wright has historically played well in the All-Star Game.
Ever since his first appearance in 2006, Wright has had at least one hit in every All-Star Game he has been in from 2006 to 2010. He even homered in his first ever All-Star at-bat in 2006—and became only the second Met to hit a home run in the All-Star Game.
He got one hit in three at-bats in the 2007 All-Star Game and one hit in three at-bats in the 2008 All-Star Game as well. In the 2009 All-Star Game, he had one hit and scored a run in two at-bats. He got two hits in two at-bats in the 2010 All-Star Game.
Wright missed the 2011 All-Star Game due to a stress fracture in his lower back that cost him two months of the season. However, this is now his sixth All-Star appearance. He definitely has some of the best career All-Star Game numbers of all time with a .462 average.
If LaRussa had other motives in mind, that's one thing. But, if he was looking from a historical perspective at who to start at DH, he clearly missed the boat with Wright's great All-Star Game numbers.
If LaRussa cares so much about winning the All-Star Game itself, then it would have only made perfect sense to start Wright because Wright has always done well in those games throughout his career. This is just another aspect of this issue that simply makes no sense on LaRussa's decision.