Tampa Bay Rays

Ranking Tampa Bay Rays' Best All-Star Game Candidates

Jamal WilburgCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2014

Ranking Tampa Bay Rays' Best All-Star Game Candidates

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    MIKE CARLSON/Associated Press

    Who will represent the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game?

    This question is a reflection of how the team has played so far this season both individually and collectively. 

    Since 2008 the question surrounding the Rays' All-Star selections has been how many players the team would send. The franchise has sent at least two players to the Midsummer Classic each season since changing the name to the Rays.

     

    Tampa Bay Rays All-Stars Since 2008 (via MLB.com)

    Year

    All-Star (Pos.)

    2013

    Matt Moore (RHP), Ben Zobrist (INF/OF)

    2012

    David Price (LHP), Fernando Rodney (RHP)

    2011

    Matt Joyce (OF), David Price (LHP), James Shields (RHP)

    2010

    *Carl Crawford (LF), *Evan Longoria (3B), *David Price (LHP), Rafael Soriano (RHP)

    2009

    Jason Bartlett (SS), Carl Crawford (LF), ºEvan Longoria (3B), Carlos Pena (1B), Ben Zobrist (INF/OF)

    2008

    Scott Kazmir (LHP), Evan Longoria (3B), Dioner Navarro (C)

    *Started game

    ºVoted as starter but did not play due to injury

    This year will likely be very different. Based on the recent voting results, the Rays will not have a player starting in this year's All-Star Game. Evan Longoria came the closest, but Josh Donaldson from the Oakland A's is running away with the lead in votes for third base.

    It would be plausible to envision a scenario where the Rays have no player on the team if the rules did not guarantee representation from every team.

    Since somebody has to go, who will it be?

    This list will look at the most likely candidates to represent the Rays in the 2014 All-Star Game. 

    The players were selected based on performance this year and popularity. The criteria for the list are the same as the criteria that usually factor into All-Star selections. 

    Players like Derek Jeter do not have to be the best player at their position by statistics or perception. Due to his global popularity, he will receive a large quantity of fan votes each season. There is nothing wrong with that since it is the All-Star game, not the All-Stats game. Fans want to watch their favorite players. 

    That does not mean that performance is unimportant. Players who are excelling at their position usually earn their way onto the roster.

    This was the case for Fernando Rodney in 2012 on his way to his record-breaking .060 ERA season. He had a 0.93 ERA and 25 saves before the All-Star break and earned his first career All-Star selection that year.

    Here is a look at the Rays' best candidates for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

3. Evan Longoria

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Evan Longoria is the only Tampa Bay Rays position player among the leaders in All-Star votes. He has not been named to an All-Star roster since 2010.

    Josh Donaldson from the Oakland A’s has the commanding lead in votes and will likely be named the starter.

    Longoria’s best hope of making the All-Star team is that the AL has to select three reserve third basemen. He would need to be selected in place of either Adrian Beltre from the Texas Rangers or Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles.

    Longoria has put together a better season than Machado. Longoria is batting .265/.339/.405 with 11 HR and 39 RBI, compared to Machado’s .239/.291/.371 line.

    Longoria also has not thrown his bat in a childish tirade.

    It would be a long shot, but last season Ben Zobrist was surprisingly selected to represent the Rays, so you never know.

2. David Price

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    A case can be made for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price to be a member of the 2014 American League All-Star team.

    First of all, there is more opportunity to fill a slot with a pitcher than there is a position player. Also, as mentioned in the previous slide, the Rays only have one viable position player option this year.

    Price has performed well enough to earn the honor despite his 7-7 record with a 3.50 ERA. His 153 strikeouts and nine strikeouts per walk rate lead all AL pitchers.

    Rays manager Joe Maddon told David Wilson from MLB.com that Price's ERA should not be taken into consideration when weighing his candidacy:

    If you break it down, the higher ERA's been based on a couple bad innings. For the most part, he's done a wonderful job. The walk-to-strikeout ratio is pretty spectacular. And moving forward, I believe it's going to continue to be as good if not better.

    Momentum is also in Price’s favor.

    In his last five starts, he has a 2.29 ERA with 52 strikeouts. Even with the amount of success he has had this season, he does not believe he should be an All-Star, according to comments made to Wilson: "There's a lot of other guys around the American League that have thrown the ball better than I have. So I shouldn't be an All-Star, I don't think so."

    One thing every pitcher in the AL has done better than Price is limit home runs. He has given up a league-worst 17 home runs, which is the largest negative on his resume this year.

    The Rays have to send a player to the All-Star Game. The combination of his performance and popularity makes Price a very likely candidate.

1. Jake McGee

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Jake McGee’s performance in 2014 is arguably the most deserving of an All-Star selection of any Tampa Bay Rays player. At least that’s what fellow reliever Joel Peralta told Bill Chastain from MLB.com: "They better get McGee on that team. He deserves it more than anybody, probably in the league, the stuff that he's been doing. He deserves to be there, definitely."

    Entering Saturday’s game, McGee has a 3-0 record in 41 appearances (38.1 IP). His 1.17 ERA was the best among AL relievers with more than 20 appearances. He has not allowed a run in his last 13 appearances and has not allowed an AL team to score since April 28.

    He has been beyond dominant since the start of May. In 29 appearances (27.0 IP), he has a 0.67 ERA, only allowing 15 hits and a .161 batting average.

    Joe Maddon explained to Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune that the decision of whom to select between McGee and David Price depends on the need:

    I would ask, 'What are your needs? What are you looking for? One inning, one batter, obviously Jake's more used to that than David is. If you're looking for two innings earlier in the game, that might be David. It just depends on who you're looking for.

    If the Rays send a lone player to the All-Star Game, it should be McGee, if based on performance. Otherwise, it is truly a popularity contest.

    A popularity contest that counts.

     

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference or MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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