This is not a piece advocating Stephen Strasburg's inclusion on the National League All-Star team.
It's going to sound like it, but it's not. This is a piece de-bunking all the pointless, misguided, misinformed arguments people are using to keep him off the All-Star team. There are lots of arguments out there. Some are good. Some are stupid. This post addresses the latter. If you're going to convince me he's not deserving of a spot, don't bring these arguments to the table.
Argument No. 1: "He's had four starts! He hasn't proven himself!"
At this point, Stephen Strasburg's career is 25.1 innings old. A staggeringly impressive 25.1 innings, but 25.1 nonetheless. Not a whole lot to it, I'll admit. And I've always been a believer in the dangers of small sample sizes. And yet...
Anyone know when the All-Star voting opened this season?
Don't believe me? Here you go:
So, if we're playing the "sample size" game, which seems to be the biggest argument to keep Strasburg out, why were people allowed to vote three weeks into the season? What, playing 1/8 of a season is enough for a hitter to garner votes, but that same amount isn't enough for a pitcher? Nice double-standard.
Yes, there have been guys who have "been doing it all season." But here's the thing: We were voting for those guys long before we entered the "All-Season" mode. How many votes did Mark Teixeira get because people assumed his slow start was just his standard April? Well, now we know he's pretty much been a disaster all season.
And while we're here, remember that we elect closers based on limited innings. Are Mariano Rivera's 24.1 innings pitched more valuable simply because they were spread out over 26 games?
Argument No. 1A: Starters and closers are different, and therefore held to different standards.
Not in an All-Star game they're not. Once you get past the guy who's actually starting the game, everyone's essentially a reliever. Everyone's throwing an inning, maybe two, so ostensibly, they're all being asked to do the same thing.
Argument No. 2 : His inclusion will take away from a more worthy candidate
Ok, this is probably true, although the way he's pitching, I think this becomes less and less likely every start.
Here's the problem with that argument:
This already happens. All the time. Every year in fact. Pick your culprit: Allowing fans to vote 25 times online, differences in attendance at ballparks, managers picking their own guys, East Coast Bias, the necessary inclusion of one player from every team, Yankees fans.
But whatever the reason, don't embarrass yourself by complaining that Strasburg's inclusion is so unfair and somehow an embarrassment to the process. The process is going to embarrass itself with or without Stephen Strasburg. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Look, I'm not asking him to replace Ubaldo or Doc here. But when the pitchers are finalized, take a look at the list. Find the worst guy and ask yourself the following question: "Is Stephen Strasburg better than this guy?" I'm 99 percent sure you'll find one.
Argument No. 3: The All-Star game isn't a popularity contest.
Of course it is! It shouldn't be and you may not want it to be, but it is. Just because Bud Selig has for some idiotic reason decided to use it to determine home-field in the World Series doesn't make it less so. And it's not just the fans.
My favorite rumor in this vein is that in 2008, Jason Varitek was selected as the backup catcher despite a line of .218/.299/.354 7 HR, 28 RBI because everyone hated A.J. Pierzynski (.286/.325/.428 7 HR, 35 RBI). I can't speak to the truth of it, except, well, it's no secret a lot of people don't like Pierzynski.
If the All-Star voting was meant to be fair, the last people on the planet who would be responsible for it would be the fans. Sure, some of them are unbiased. I'm sure there are people in Boston who are voting for Robinson Cano, just as I'm sure people in New York are voting for, well, anyone other than Mark Teixeira.
But there are hundreds of thousands of votes being cast for players simply because they play on the voter's favorite team. Can you honestly tell me you never voted for a guy on your own team with sub-par stats? I did. Every year, without fail, I voted for Don Mattingly. (Unfortunately, but the time I started going to games regularly, he stopped being worthy of going)
Now, if you want to argue that since the Nationals will only get one player, it should be Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn, then you'd have my ear. I can get behind an argument like that. But the other three? Forget it.