Here are two MLB players, A and B, and their numbers through the first half of the season:
A is batting .311 in 56 games, with one home run, 22 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases. He has a .343 OBP and a .378 SLG, giving him a .721 OPS.
B is batting .312 in 77 games, with 19 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 7 stolen bases. He has a .412 OBP and a .572 SLG, giving him a .984 OPS.
Now, say you have to select one of them for the All-Star Game. Given that you have a starter at both A and B’s respective positions and are only selecting a late-game substitute to play two innings, whom do you pick?
Hands up all of you who picked player B.
You are all wrong.
Player A is Omar Infante. Player B is Joey Votto. Infante is an All-Star. Votto is not.
Votto’s on base streak is at 40 games. He’s tied with Albert Pujols for the NL lead in home runs. He leads the league in OPS. He is in the top five in each Triple Crown category. If the season ended today, he’s in the Most Valuable Player discussion.
But, of course, he’s not an All-Star. That makes a whole lot of sense.
He’s not the only snub, either.
Felix Hernandez leads the league in innings pitched, is tied for first in quality starts, is third in strikeouts, and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last nine starts.
Billy Wagner leads all NL closers in WHIP and opponent OPS. He was passed over in favour of Matt Capps. Wagner has allowed 19 hits in 33.2 innings pitched. Capps has allowed 44 in 36.2.
Josh Willingham is third in the league in OBP, second in walks, and has 15 home runs.
Miguel Olivo should be there, not just because of his offense, but his defense too. He has thrown out over half of all would-be base stealers this year (20 of 39). He also leads all NL catchers in BA, SLG, OPS, and HR.
He’s not there. Neither are Jayson Werth, Jaime Garcia, Andy Pettite, Magglio Ordonez, or Colby Rasmus.
I will, however, compliment the players and managers on not voting in Stephen Strasburg. That would have been one of the most ludicrous All-Star selections in recent years. Yes, he’s been every bit as awesome as everyone initially thought, and then some. But he still hadn’t thrown a pitch when everyone else had already been playing for two months.
Also, the fact that there are pitchers who are neither starters nor closers is to be applauded. Relievers Evan Meek, Arthur Rhodes, and Matt Thornton will all go to Anaheim. And that’s good, because this game matters.
Of course, the winner of the Midsummer Classic wins home field advantage for the World Series. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to open that particular can of beans right now. The principal thing is this:
Along with celebrities playing softball and players trying to hit a MasterCard sign 450 feet away, there is an important game to be played.
You should definitely be there. It’s a shame that some of this year's best players won’t be.