Biggest Snubs of 2014 MLB All-Star Game Rosters
The annual announcement of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game rosters doubles as a coronation for deserving players and debate among fans for which stars were unfairly left out in the cold. When the sport descends on Minnesota's Target Field next week, most of the best and brightest players in the game will be showcased for fans.
Despite the combination of smart fans, peers and an extra vote to elect one more player from each league, snubs are inevitable. Baseball is filled with talented athletes in the midst of excellent seasons on a yearly basis, and sometimes players who have better stats and are more valuable overall are left off in favor of less-deserving stars.
By next week, injuries, Final Vote results and roster changes could make this list look instructive. Don't be surprised if a handful of our snubs do end up finding their way to Minnesota. For now, though, a list of snubs emerge for the Midsummer Classic.
Before jumping into a full list of players that deserve to be part of the 2014 All-Star Game, it makes sense to look at the surprises. On the surface, there's nothing inherently wrong with selecting any of the following players to play in July 15th's game at Target Field.
Yet, when dissecting the credential and merit of the snubs, the following players stood out as surprises:
Glen Perkins, RP, Minnesota Twins (3.22 ERA)
Pat Neshek, RP, St. Louis Cardinals (3.34 xFIP)
Tyson Ross, SP, San Diego Padres (115 ERA+)
Tony Watson, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates (1.2 fWAR)
Josh Harrison, UTIL, Pittsburgh Pirates (.335 OBP)
Garrett Richards, SP, Los Angeles Angels
When National League hitters survey the American League pitching forum for next week's All-Star Game, the potential absence of Richards' name will likely result in a collective sigh of relief from some of the most dominant players in baseball.
That's because Richards has quietly emerged into a shutdown righty, capable of generating ground balls and striking batters out. Aesthetically, the 26-year-old sinkerballer elicits memories of a young Kevin Brown on the mound.
With a 3.0 fWAR (seventh in baseball) and 2.70 FIP (fielding independent pitching), that comparison has translated into tangible results on the field for the Los Angeles Angels.
Henderson Alvarez, SP, Miami Marlins
Miami Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez is a classic example of "results vs. process" when evaluating the numbers for a starting pitcher. Despite a FIP of 3.16, Alvarez carries a 2.27 ERA into the All-Star break for the young, rising NL East team.
Although the 24-year old doesn't generate big strikeout totals (5.48 K/9), his ability to keep the ball down and generate ground balls (55.2 percent) has led to immense success. It might not be wise to project such a low ERA for Alvarez across the second half of the season, but his early-season returns (fourth in the NL in ERA among qualified starters) merited a trip to Minnesota.
Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians
When the Cleveland Indians lost Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez last winter, it was clear that Terry Francona's team needed arms to step up and fill the void in the rotation. Entering the season, impending free agent Justin Masterson and exciting prospect Danny Salazar looked like the obvious choices to profile as 2014 All-Stars for Cleveland.
Three months later, Salazar is in the minors and Masterson is costing himself money on a start-by-start basis with poor results. Meanwhile, Indians starter Corey Kluber has more than filled void left by Kazmir and Jimenez. In fact, Kluber's been good enough to merit first-half Cy Young consideration, let alone deserving a trip to Minnesota.
Across 19 first half starts, Kluber owns the distinction of a dominant K/9 rate (9.81), high value total (3.4 fWAR; third in MLB) and peripherals (2.65 FIP, 2.80 xFIP) that match a sterling ERA of 2.86. If the AL's best are present at Target Field, Kluber must be included.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds speedster Billy Hamilton missed the All-Star Game cutoff because of poor timing. If Hamilton had started the year by getting on base, crushing the ball and stealing bases left and right, his star would have rose and propelled him past a slump or two.
Instead, the 23-year-old suffered a slow start before turning it around. While a .301 OBP, 93 OPS+ and 12 caught stealing attempts aren't quite star-caliber numbers, consider this distinction: Since May 9, Hamilton has stolen 24 bases, driven in 24 runs and scored 28 runs.
In a game that determines home-field advantage in the World Series, Hamilton's elite skills, especially in the field and on the bases, should be part of the equation for National League skipper Mike Matheny. And even despite the slow start, Hamilton is 15th in the NL in WAR among batters with a mark of 2.7, far better than Josh Harrison's 1.7 total.
Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox
When it comes to snubs, Chris Sale's name should be part of any list of complaints for the 2014 All-Star Game. The Chicago White Sox southpaw isn't just dominant; he's also the most overpowering left-handed strikeout artist since Randy Johnson.
Despite missing about a month with an elbow injury, Sale's numbers (9.89 K/9, 2.16 ERA) are overwhelming and more than worthy of a spot on manager John Farrell's AL squad. In just 13 starts, the 25-year-old has racked up 2.9 fWAR, putting him on a pace for close to an 8.0 WAR campaign over a full season of outings.
Josh Beckett, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Career achievement awards and sentiment shouldn't be a major part of the yearly All-Star Game debate, but an exception should exist when it comes to Los Angeles Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. While his 2.26 ERA (fourth in MLB) across 103.2 innings is enough to merit a spot on the NL roster, there's more to the story that would have made Beckett a tremendous selection.
Despite a 138-win career, recent no-hitter and dominance during October, Beckett has only made three career All-Star appearances and finished within the top five of Cy Young voting just once—No. 2 during the 2007 AL vote.
Accolades have some eluded a 14-year starter that has racked up a combined 36.4 bWAR in stops with the Marlins, Red Sox and Dodgers. Casual baseball fans know Beckett from past brilliance, but it would be nice to recount his resurgence on the big stage in Minnesota.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers
When the Detroit Tigers shipped Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler last winter, few could have guessed the 2014 results: A complete and total victory for the Tigers, stemming from Fielder's season-ending injury and Kinsler's outstanding season.
That narrative should be spun further by an All-Star Game selection for the 32-year-old second baseman, but it seems as if this column will have to suffice. With a 121 OPS+, a case can be made that Kinsler is enjoying his best season since 2008 and on the path to possibly overtaking his career-best WAR mark, set in 2011 with a 7.1 bWAR for the Rangers.
Through 84 games, Kinsler has a 3.7 bWAR (fourth in the AL), helping the Tigers fend off the rising Royals in the AL Central.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
On July 4, the Chicago Cubs made headlines by shipping away Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics in return for top prospect Addison Russell. The deal, engineered by the forward-thinking Chicago front office, further built up a surplus of position-player talent in the minor leagues.
When projecting a bright future for the Cubs, it's instructive to look to the pipeline of players coming. But don't forget the current first baseman at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo, once a top prospect in the Red Sox and Padres organizations, has emerged as a legitimate building block for the rebuilding Cubs.
According to ESPN's projections, the 24-year-old is on pace for the following season stats: 32 HR, .871 OPS and 94 BB. Rizzo, part of the Final Vote for NL players, seemed willing to let the process play out in his bid for a spot on the team, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
“I’ve been trying to find out for the past 1 1/2 weeks if I was going," Rizzo said. "So it’s not going to change. It’s going to be the fans’ vote. I’m sure we’re going to do everything we can with the Cubs to push it, but we’ll see what happens."
Though his numbers aren't eye-popping, Rizzo was slightly better than a few NL reserves in several categories, including fWAR. He deserves to be in Minnesota.
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
UPDATE: Monday, July 7 at 5:05 p.m. ET
It turns out Seager is heading to the Midsummer Classic. Per MLB.com's Twitter feed:
When looking at Kyle Seager's numbers (.829 OPS, 4.5 UZR), it's clear he was snubbed. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince argued that numbers, specifically two third baseman within his own division, Adrian Beltre and Josh Donaldson, squeezed Seager into the role of snub.
Still, there should have been a way to place Seager on the roster. While players like Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes and Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki have had nice years, Seager could have been a part of the roster over either player.
After all, his 3.2 fWAR ranks seventh in the AL, far ahead of Suzuki's 1.2 mark.
By this portion of the list, feel free to succumb to oversaturation. While the following players weren't the top snubs, honorable mentions are deserved:
Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees (.359 OBP)
Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies (19 SV, 1.35 ERA)
Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago White Sox (3.20 ERA)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (141 wRC+)
Tim Hudson, SP, San Francisco Giants (2.53 ERA)
Who was the biggest snub in each league?