On Saturday while the Toronto Blue Jays were in the midst of an inter-league series with the Colorado Rockies, manager Cito Gaston was asked which of his players deserved All-Star consideration. Gatson told MLB.com writer Jordan Bastian that he felt Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista were worth serious consideration. Gaston also said he hopes to see at least three selections from his squad.
It would only seem natural for a manager to name several of his players for consideration, whether they had truly earned it or not. With that in mind, here's a look at each of the five and if their performances stack up well enough in the American League to be worth a selection to the mid-summer classic.
Wells is the most deserving of all the Blue Jays hitters as he leads the team in wOBA at .394. The resurgent offensive attack from Wells has him hitting .292 with an isolated power of .292. His 15 homers not only matches last year's total but it has him tied for second among AL outfielders with Texas' Josh Hamilton. The 23 doubles he's collected so far leads all AL outfielders, two ahead of the Angels' Torii Hunter.
If his resurgence continues he's certain to have his best year since 2006 and after last year's disaster he could be inline for Comeback Player of the Year. In the meantime, Wells has pushed himself to the top of the pile amongst AL outfielders and Cito is absolutely correct to recommend him for the All-Star game.
Despite being second in the AL in home runs with 18, trailing Miguel Cabrera by a single homer, Bautista's case is a bit more complicated. The main problem for his candidacy, as much as it helps his team, is that Bautista has split his time almost evenly between third base and right field. That leaves the task of deciding whom to compare his numbers to and double the competition as well.
Bautista's .232 batting average doesn't help him much either as far as traditional stats go. But his power can't be ignored either he leads the league in isolated power and stands fourteenth in wOBA at .389. He's also largely offset the low batting average by walking in 15.4 percent of his plate appearances, third best in the AL.
At third base Bautista will have to contend with Evan Longoria, Michael Young and even the resurgent Adrian Beltre. The outfield is littered with competition including his teammate, Wells and former teammate Alex Rios. Gaston certainly enjoys Bautista's versatility but that same versatility will likely cost him a spot on the AL squad.
Romero has improved in every way possible over his rookie campaign in 2009. In thirteen starts this season he has established himself as the ace of a Blue Jays staff that has shown both excellent results and hope for the future. The lefty has used an improved ability to strikeout batters to compliment his outstanding groundball generating ability. At the same time he's limited the heavy damage that comes from serving up homers and cut back on his walks from a year ago.
While he's just fifteenth among AL starters in ERA at 3.29, he stands fifth in FIP with a mark of 3.15. Romero is fifth in strikeouts per nine at 9.07 and ninth in homers allowed per nine at just .60. His 55.6 percent groundball rate is third best among AL starters. Topping it all off for Romero, he's generates more swings and misses than any AL starter besides Francisco Liriano.
If the Blue Jays send one pitcher to the All-Star game in Anaheim, it has to be Romero.
Not far behind Romero, Marcum stands seventh amongst AL starters with a 3.24 FIP. Marcum has made up for his so-so 6.86 K/9 IN with impeccable control. His 1.90 walks per nine innings is sixth best in the AL and his .63 HR/9 IN is eleventh. Marcum's change-up has been the best in the AL worth a full 10.6 runs above average.
Marcum's ERA at 3.38 is just seventeenth in the AL amongst starters. That, despite the fact his FIP is better than ten of the pitchers with a better ERA, will probably erase almost any chance he has of making the team. Romero making the team would probably also hurt Marcum's chances. Even though he most likely won't make it, he's pitched well enough for a bid.
Quickly emerging as one of the Jays' best arms the twenty-three year old Cecil joins Romero and Marcum in the top ten amongst AL starters in FIP. His 3.40 FIP is tenth and well ahead of both Clay Bucholz and Brandon Morrow at 3.59. Like Marcum, he doesn't get a ton of strikeouts setting down 6.58 per nine innings. He gets by with solid control walking just 2.24 batters per nine innings. He also cut his home run rate by more than half going from 1.64 HR/9 IN in '09 down to just .70.
His 3.22 ERA is good for eleventh amongst AL starters. All four of his pitches have been above average including the league's fifth most valuable change-up that's been worth 7.4 runs above average.
Despite his excellent season to date Cecil's first All-Star bid will have to wait. With his drastic improvement from last season to this one he might make the team as soon as next year. Cecil's performance isn't the problem, he's last among qualified AL starters in innings with 64 1/3. That's no fault of his own as he's only made ten starts where as most qualified starters have at least a dozen or more.