Yes, the third-base position in the AL was absolutely loaded, and there was no one undeserving player of the five in the running. Beyond the obvious choice in starter Miguel Cabrera, Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre and Manny Machado were all deserving. I would go as far as to say maybe even more so than a few reserves who did make it (i.e. Prince Fielder and Ben Zobrist).
That said, if there were ever an instance to have an unbalanced team, it would have been this year. A couple of factors essentially ruined Donaldson's chances. First, the arcane rule that each team must be represented factored in Houston's Jason Castro getting a spot.
Second, well, Leyland did a poor job. In what universe do the Kansas City Royals merit twice as many All-Star selections than the Oakland A's? Salvador Perez or Alex Gordon should have gone, not both.
And of course, Leyland loaded up on his own Tigers players: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta. Beyond Verlander, I think the four others merit consideration. But it is clear favoritism played a strong part. It definitely helped Fielder.
But ultimately, this came down to a head-to-head matchup between Donaldson and Machado. I say that because for some illogical reason, Leyland put Zobrist on the team as Tampa Bay's lone representative instead of Longoria.
Who is having the better year?
While Machado is having a brilliant year, he is a lesser product compared to Donaldson at the plate. That's not me talking, that's the numbers:
- Machado: .315 BAA, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 39 2B, .344 OBP, 476 SLG, .820 OPS in a league-leading 378 at-bats
- Donaldson: .317 BAA, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 22 2B, .385 OBP, .533 SLG, .918 OPS in 319 at-bats
Compared to Machado, Donaldson bests the Oriole significantly in every major offensive category except doubles (Machado has one more triple and four more steals), has more than double the walks in 59 fewer at-bats (37 to 16) and has committed all of one more error than Machado defensively.
That's in case you were thinking that maybe this was a defensive selection. That would be a joke. Jason Kipnis, Perez and Castro are among the worst fielders in the AL for their position. Donaldson is in the top half.
What it comes down to is a simple yet egregious snub. Not enough people know who Donaldson is, so he got left out. But it is worth mentioning that currently there are 15 players in all of baseball who have an OPS of .900 or greater.
Of those 15, only two did not make an All-Star team in 2013. They were Longoria and Donaldson. Zobrist? Really? So Donaldson has the game of a player who should be in New York next week.
He simply does not have the name value. And that speaks volumes considering he's the team MVP for one of the five best teams in baseball.