The logic behind each manager's decision wasn't exactly sound, but in the end, Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland got it right when selecting the starting pitchers for Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game.
And in the end, that's all that really matters. Sort of.
Let's start with the National League, where Bochy went with New York Mets young stud Matt Harvey.
Now, a legitimate case could seriously be made for Harvey, Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin, Adam Wainwright or Jordan Zimmermann. All have an ERA under 3.00, a WHIP under 1.10, at least 130 innings pitched and at least 100 strikeouts (with the exception of Zimmermann, who has 95).
But many believed the most deserving candidates were Harvey, Kershaw and Corbin. Here's a look at the comparison between the trio:
There's very little separating them. You want to reward the guy with the most wins? Go with Corbin. You want the man with a ridiculous sub-2.00 ERA? Take Kershaw. You want the guy blowing hitters away? Harvey is your man.
Who should have been chosen as NL starter?
But the All-Star Game is about the fans. If there's no clear distinction and one of the players is from the host city, it's a no-brainer to go with him.
If the game were being played in Phoenix, the pick is Corbin. In Los Angeles, it's Kershaw. At Citi Field in New York, Harvey is undoubtedly the correct choice.
Yet, Bochy's reasoning, per ESPN's Adam Rubin, is slightly perplexing:
Kershaw did not seem to care for NL manager Bruce Bochy saying Monday afternoon that Harvey would have been the starting pitcher and "it really wouldn’t have mattered what city we were playing in" because of Harvey's first-half production.
Said Kershaw, tersely: "That's his opinion."
Kershaw is right to be miffed. Harvey has been lights out (and owns the lowest xFIP, a measure of expected performance without the effect of fielding, in the majors), but to say he has been so significantly better that the choice would be obvious at any park is disrespectful to other red-hot starters in the NL.
Now to the AL, where Leyland selected his own Max Scherzer, giving this ludicrous reasoning, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:
Leyland on Scherzer: "13-1 Max Scherzer. I don't think I need to explain it anymore than that." #tigers— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 15, 2013
Actually, yeah, you're probably going to have to explain it a little more than that, Mr. Leyland.
Scherzer is the beneficiary of a Tigers offense that boasts a guy named Miguel Cabrera. He is second in the majors in run support, getting a healthy 5.89 runs per game, which makes it a little easier to win 13 games.
Still, Scherzer is a fine choice, narrowly beating out Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale.
Who should have been chosen in the AL?
As before, an argument could hold for any three of them. Hernandez has the best ERA (2.53) despite having the highest BABIP (.311), while Sale is terrific across the board with a 2.85 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.83 K/9 (all of which rank second among the three).
But again, with so little separating the three, I'm going with the guy who can best put on a show and excite the fans—at least as much as possible for a guy who will pitch at most two innings.
Scherzer has just a 3.19 ERA, but he misses bats. He has the second-lowest WHIP (0.98, behind Hisashi Iwakuma) and the second-best K/9 (10.6, behind the injured Yu Darvish). He has a blazing fastball and a devastating curveball-slider combination.
I want to see a starter who will bring the heat and go after the best hitters in the world. Scherzer will do exactly that, and he will do it effectively.
So, in conclusion, great job, Bochy and Leyland. Kind of.