The Oakland Athletics, which are currently tied for first with the Texas Rangers in the American League West and also have the fourth most wins in the majors, only have one All-Star representative: Bartolo Colon.
Colon is definitely having a great year and is deserving of this spot; however, excluding Josh Donaldson and Grant Balfour from their first All-Star Game is mind-boggling.
Let's put up some stats:
.317 AVG, 15 HR, 57 RBI, .385 OBP
.315 AVG, 6 HR, 42 RBI, .344 OBP
One of the lines is for Donaldson, and the other is for an AL All-Star reserve. Which one do you think is Donaldson's? Obviously the second one, right?
The second line is for AL reserve Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. Donaldson has the top line and the better numbers. He leads Machado in every meaningful category.
David Schoenfield and Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN did a piece on Machado, asking if he has what it takes to be the AL MVP. The initial take on him is that he's a defensive monster at third, and they are calling him an "all-time great." They even compared Machado to Brooks Robinson.
I think it's a little early to start throwing names around like that.
While not as defensively sound as Machado, Donaldson is certainly up there as a great defensive third baseman. Furthermore, he is a more consistent and clutch hitter than Machado. In multiple games this year, Donaldson has come through with a key hit or game-winning home run that propelled the A's into the win column.
He's also outperformed Machado in 59 less at-bats.
Now onto Balfour.
The Oakland closer has successfully converted his last 40 save opportunities, which ties him with Dennis Eckersley for the longest streak in A's history. His line reads perfect: 22-of-22 in save tries with a 1.82 ERA.
If we were to compare his stats with those of Minnesota Twin Glen Perkins, we would see striking similarities with the case of Donaldson over Machado.
Grant Balfour: 1.82 ERA, 22 Saves, 35 K
Glen Perkins: 1.93 ERA, 20 Saves, 45 K
Ten more strikeouts do not make an All-Star. Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers—another All-Star reserve—isn't perfect in his save attempts like Balfour is, and AL reserve Jesse Crain doesn't even have a single save, although he is more of a setup man.
It’s not always good enough to be perfect. It’s a little frustrating playing for a long time and putting up good numbers. But I guess if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
I thought that the All-Star Game was about getting the best players on the field to represent their leagues.
Oakland having only one All-Star is hardly a good representation of the American League. The last-place Chicago White Sox have two All-Stars, as do the fourth-place Seattle Mariners. Also, with Colon possibly pitching the day before the All-Star Game and thus not making him eligible to play the next day, the Athletics will be the only team not represented.
Let me echo that again: A first-place team in the league will have zero players in the Midsummer Classic.
Now the question is why? Why have the A's been snubbed?
It could be the old standby that Oakland is a small-market team and won't get as much publicity from the main stream media. Maybe it's because the A's don't have the big name star that has the multi-billion dollar contract that has everyone in a frenzy.
What do you think? Drop a note in the comments and maybe we can figure this whole thing out.