Early Predictions for 2014 MLB All-Star Team Snubs

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Early Predictions for 2014 MLB All-Star Team Snubs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The 2014 MLB All-Star Game will be played on July 15, or a little over a month-and-a-half from now, but it's never too soon to start diving into what this year's rosters might look like.

    Arguing about who deserves to be on the rosters and who the biggest snubs are each year is half the fun of the game itself, and there will no doubt be some notable snubs once again this coming season.

    Last year, Oakland A's third baseman Josh Donaldson was probably the biggest snub, while Evan Longoria, Carlos Santana, Rex Brothers, Shelby Miller, Hiroki Kuroda and Hyun-Jin Ryu were also among the notable exclusions from the Midsummer Classic.

    Here is a look at 10 guys who could find themselves on that unfortunate list this July, whether they play for a team that likely won't have multiple representatives or man a stacked position with more deserving candidates than spots.

AL Snub: RP Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Stats and Rank Among AL Relievers (*10+ Games)


    *98 qualified AL relievers


    Who Makes It over Him

    Dellin Betances (NYY), Greg Holland (KC), Glen Perkins (MIN), David Robertson (NYY), Koji Uehara (BOS)


    Player Overview

    Setup relievers have found themselves on the All-Star roster more frequently in recent years, with Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil, Jesse Crain and Mark Melancon all earning a nod in 2013, and there will likely be at least a few who receive the honor once again this season.

    Dellin Betances of the Yankees looks like a prime candidate, with a 1.48 ERA and a whopping 51 strikeouts in 30.1 innings of work (15.1 K/9), as he has stepped up huge in a new-look Yankees bullpen.

    He'll likely receive more attention than Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton, but if the 26-year-old keeps pitching like he has, he'll have a strong case himself to be there.

    Much like Cecil last year, Britton was out of options heading into spring training and didn't win himself a spot in the rotation, but he's found a home in the bullpen. In fact, he's taken over closer duties with Tommy Hunter on the shelf and converted all three of his save chances.

AL Snub: 2B Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified AL Second Basemen


    *9 qualified AL second basemen


    Who Makes It over Him

    Jose Altuve (HOU), Robinson Cano (SEA), Ian Kinsler (DET)


    Player Overview

    In his first full big league season last year, Brian Dozier was quietly one of the most effective second basemen in the game, posting a .726 OPS with 33 doubles, 18 home runs and 14 steals while also playing plus defense to post a 3.8 WAR.

    He's improved that OPS to .796 so far this year and leads the American League with 42 runs scored, as he has been one of the bright spots in a solid Minnesota Twins offensive attack.

    Ben Zobrist and Jason Kipnis have been slowed by injuries after making the All-Star team last year, but the field of candidates at second base in the AL is still deep, as Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano, Howie Kendrick, Jose Altuve and Dozier all have legitimate cases.

    With the All-Star Game in Minnesota this year, fans will be certainly be calling for the hometown guy to make the roster, but he has an uphill battle with so many plus options at the position. If nothing else, look for him to potentially be a Home Run Derby participant.

AL Snub: SP Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified AL Starting Pitchers


    *45 total qualified AL starting pitchers


    Who Makes It over Him

    Mark Buehrle (TOR), Yu Darvish (TEX), Sonny Gray (OAK), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Phil Hughes (MIN), Max Scherzer (DET), Masahiro Tanaka (NYY), Jered Weaver (LAA)


    Player Overview

    A seventh-round pick by the Houston Astros back in 2009, Dallas Keuchel was just 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA in 47 games (38 starts) over his first two major league seasons.

    The 26-year-old won the No. 5 starter job out of spring training, and after allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings of work, he's gone 6-1 with a 2.19 ERA and .209 BAA over his last nine starts.

    His stuff is not overpowering, but he does a great job keeping the ball down and has an MLB-best 66.5 percent ground-ball rate as a result, according to FanGraphs. With a 2.66 FIP and .277 BABIP, his numbers look to be for real at this point, as he looks like a building block for the Astros.

    Unfortunately, the Astros will likely wind up with just one All-Star representative, as they are again among the worst teams in baseball this year record-wise. With second baseman Jose Altuve currently leading all of baseball with 71 hits and batting .323, he looks like the more likely choice at this point.

AL Snub: SP Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified AL Starting Pitchers


    *45 total qualified AL starting pitchers


    Who Makes It over Him

    Mark Buehrle (TOR), Yu Darvish (TEX), Sonny Gray (OAK), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Phil Hughes (MIN), Max Scherzer (DET), Masahiro Tanaka (NYY), Jered Weaver (LAA)


    Player Overview

    A big second half from Ubaldo Jimenez and a resurgent season from Scott Kazmir can be pointed to as huge reasons why the Cleveland Indians were the surprise team of 2013, but the emergence of Corey Kluber certainly played a role as well.

    The 28-year-old actually started the season in the bullpen, but when all was said and done, he went 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA (3.30 FIP) and 136 strikeouts in 147.1 innings of work. He opened this season as the team's No. 2 starter and is even better than last year.

    "Our game and our league, being able to be consistent is such a huge factor in becoming a really good major league pitcher or player,” Indians manager Terry Francona said in an AP report (h/t CBS Sports). “That’s what Klubes is doing. This is not like a shock or a big surprise. This has been coming.”

    Unfortunately, the Indians are not playing nearly as well this season and may very well be looking at one All-Star representative come July. If that's the case, left fielder Michael Brantley looks like they more likely choice, leaving Kluber as a snub.

NL Snub: SP Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified NL Starting Pitchers


    *59 total qualified NL starting pitchers


    Who Makes It over Him

    Madison Bumgarner (SF), Johnny Cueto (CIN), Zack Greinke (LAD), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Tim Hudson (SF), Jeff Samardzija (CHI), Julio Teheran (ATL), Adam Wainwright (STL)


    Player Overview

    Last season, the Milwaukee Brewers' starting rotation ranked 21st in the MLB with a 4.20 ERA. Veteran Kyle Lohse was the only pitcher to make more than 30 starts and post an ERA under 4.00, as he went 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 198.2 innings.

    This year, the rotation has been significantly improved, as it is sixth in the MLB with a 3.39 ERA and second with 35 quality starts on the year.

    It's been a solid group from top to bottom, with Wily Peralta enjoying a breakout season at 4-4 with a 2.12 ERA, but as far as peripheral numbers are concerned, Lohse has again been their best pitcher.

    There is no shortage of NL starters to choose from this year, and there are a handful of guys not among my projected picks having better seasons than Lohse. Given how well the Brewers have started the season, though, and what a big role their rotation has played in that turnaround, their best starter in Kyle Lohse is a top snub candidate.

NL Snub: 1B Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified NL First Basemen


    *11 qualified NL first basemen


    Who Makes It over Him

    Freddie Freeman (ATL), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)


    Player Overview

    With Todd Helton finally hanging it up after 17 seasons with the Colorado Rockies, the team entered the offseason looking for a replacement at first base.

    The Rockies wound up signing veteran Justin Morneau to a two-year, $12.5 million deal, hoping he could put up something similar to the 36 doubles, 17 home runs and 77 RBI he did while splitting last season between Minnesota and Pittsburgh.

    Fair to say he's exceeded expectations to this point, and with an .820 OPS on the road, his impressive numbers are not simply a result of playing his home games at Coors Field.

    Even with Joey Votto dealing with injury, the first base picture is still a crowded one in the National League, and even with his solid numbers, it's hard to see Morneau getting the nod over any of the three guys mentioned above.

AL Snub: 1B Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified AL First Basemen


    *12 qualified AL first basemen


    Who Makes It over Him

    1B Jose Abreu (CWS), 1B Miguel Cabrera (DET), 1B Edwin Encarnacion (TOR), 1B Albert Pujols (LAA), DH Victor Martinez (DET), DH David Ortiz (BOS)


    Player Overview

    After spending time with the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies and failing to establish himself, Brandon Moss joined the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2012 season.

    He launched 21 home runs in just 265 at-bats as a platoon guy his first season with the team and proved that was no fluke with another 30 long balls over 446 at-bats in 2013. In fact, his 62 home runs since the start of the 2012 season are tied for the 13th-highest total in all of baseball.

    Despite playing a team-high 26 games at first base, he's listed on the All-Star ballot as a DH, and his chances of beating out David Ortiz or Victor Martinez in the voting are slim. That leaves him hoping for a reserve spot, and there's a good chance that bigger names like Edwin Encarnacion, Albert Pujols and rookie sensation Jose Abreu win out to back up Miguel Cabrera at first base.

    Josh Donaldson was arguably the biggest All-Star snub in all of baseball last season, and unfortunately, the A's will likely be dealt at least a few snubs once again this year. My best guess right now is that Sonny Gray and Donaldson both earn a spot on the AL roster, but the rest of the A's candidates—Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Yoenis Cespedes and Moss—will miss out.

NL Snub: RP Pat Neshek, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Stats and Rank Among NL Relievers (*10+ Games)


    *103 qualified NL relievers


    Who Makes It over Him

    Steve Cishek (MIA), Craig Kimbrel (ATL), Francisco Rodriguez (MIL), Rafael Soriano (WAS), Huston Street (SD)


    Player Overview

    As though they needed another weapon on their pitching staff, the St. Louis Cardinals have struck gold with the minor league deal they signed Pat Neshek to in the offseason.

    A non-roster invitee this spring, the 33-year-old with the funky delivery will earn $1 million this season after pitching his way onto the Opening Day roster, and he has been the Cardinals' most reliable reliever so far this season and one of the best in the entire National League.

    He's pitched mostly in the middle innings, bridging the gap to the hard-throwing trio of Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal, so that is a strike against him as far as earning a spot over some late-inning guys.

    Neshek is probably the least likely of any of the 10 players listed here to actually end up playing in the Midsummer Classic, even with his manager, Mike Matheny, skippering the team. But if he keeps his numbers where they are, he'd certainly be a snub.

NL Snub: CF Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified NL Outfielders


    *33 qualified NL outfielders


    Who Makes It over Him

    Charlie Blackmon (COL), Carlos Gomez (MIL), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Hunter Pence (SF), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Justin Upton (ATL)


    Player Overview

    A strong case can be made for all three of the San Francisco Giants' outfielders being on the NL All-Star team as things stand right now, but with so many options around the league, chances are only one of those guys will wind up getting a nod.

    Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez and Yasiel Puig are essentially locks to make the team, and after he was the talk of baseball through the first month, there's a good chance Charlie Blackmon gets rewarded with a spot as well.

    From there, you can pick from at least a dozen deserving guys to earn what will probably be one or two more spots, and my best guesses are Justin Upton and Hunter Pence, though both are streaky hitters and could see their numbers dip between now and then.

    He may not get the attention of some of his teammates, but Angel Pagan has been as valuable as anyone on the Giants as a dynamic table-setter atop their vastly improved lineup. The team was 39-32 (.549) when he was in the lineup last season and just 37-54 (.407) when he was sidelined. His importance to the team makes him a deserving candidate, but he'll likely be snubbed.

NL Snub: OF Seth Smith, San Diego Padres

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Stats and Rank Among *Qualified NL Outfielders


    *33 qualified NL outfielders


    Who Makes It over Him

    Charlie Blackmon (COL), Carlos Gomez (MIL), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Yasiel Puig (LAD), Hunter Pence (SF), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Justin Upton (ATL)


    Player Overview

    As I mentioned on the Angel Pagan slide, the NL outfield situation is a crowded one, but it's awfully hard to ignore the .981 OPS that Seth Smith has put up in his first season with the San Diego Padres.

    Acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the offseason for setup man Luke Gregerson, the 31-year-old has been one of the game's better platoon outfielders over the past several seasons, but he is thriving in everyday at-bats this year.

    Making his numbers that much more impressive is the fact that he has gotten little help from the guys around him, as the Padres have the worst offense in baseball this season, hitting .223/.279/.354 as a team and averaging and MLB-low 3.17 runs per game.

    Smith is certainly deserving of an All-Star nod if he keeps hitting the way he has, but chances are the Padres only wind up with one representative, and my guess is it will be veteran closer Huston Street, who is 14-of-14 on save chances with a 1.42 ERA.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.


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