2010 MLB All-Star Game: The All-Snub Team
The best players in baseball don't always make the All-Star teams. It's a fact of life that we have come to accept.
And yet, each year, we (or at least, I) are shocked by the idiocy of the fan, player, and coach selections. With all of the slumping stars, humdrum homers, and straight-up head-scratchers that end up filling out the rosters, it's hard not to keep thinking about the deserving players who got left off.
I feel terrible for the players who are sitting in their living rooms this All-Star Break, watching their inferior peers being honored on national TV. So I thought making an All-Star team for them was the least I could do.
In this slideshow are the nine snubbed hitters and two overlooked pitchers who most deserved spots on their respective leagues' teams. The resulting team isn't as good as a real All-Star roster, but it's certainly talented enough to give either league's squad a run for its money.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo
This slideshow is full of great players who deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments this season, but only one can unequivocally say that he is the best at his position in all of baseball.
His name is Miguel Olivo, and his absence from the NL All-Star team is downright criminal.
Olivo's .325 average, 42 RBI, and .548 SLG are tops among MLB backstops, and he places second in homers (11) and runs (42). If you prefer sabermetric stats, he's pacing all catchers with his .393 wOBA and 3.3 Wins Above Replacement.
Should have replaced: Yadier Molina
First Base: Kevin Youkilis
Through the first half of 2010, the Greek God of Walks hasn't been the best at any one thing. But he's ranked among the elite in just about every offensive category en route to a career season.
He's eighth in the league in homers (18), second in runs scored (67), third in walks (51), fourth in OBP (.406), fifth in SLG (.575), fifth in OPS (.981), fourth in ISO (.282), fifth in wOBA (.421).
The result is a 3.4 WAR—good for ninth in the AL. Throw in his versatility (he's established himself as a solid defender at first and third, and has experience at second base and both corner outfield spots), and leaving him off the team is simply nonsense.
Should have replaced: David Ortiz
Second Base: Kelly Johnson
There isn't much to complain about with the All-Star second basemen; compared to most other positions, the selections at the keystones seem pretty reasonable.
But with apologies to Dan Uggla, the choice for worst snub is clear: Kelly Johnson.
After an embarrassing non-tender last winter, Johnson has seemingly received a shot in the arm from the desert air. He's hitting .276 with an .870 OPS and he's on pace to set career highs with 25 homers, 78 RBI, 15 steals, and a terrific 5.1 WAR.
Should have replaced: Brandon Phillips
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez
When the Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent Alex Gonzalez last winter, they were expecting a solid fielder with a mediocre bat.
He's delivered on the first half of that; his 3.1 UZR is second among AL shortstops. But he's given the Boo Birds a lot more than they bargained for with his bat.
A man who's topped 18 homers and 77 RBI just once is on pace to hit 31 jacks and drive in 91 runners. He's been the most powerful shortstop in baseball (.497 SLG), and his 2.4 WAR is 33 percent higher than Derek Jeter's.
Should have replaced: Alex Rodriguez
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman
An All-Star snub ending up an MVP? It sounds crazy, I know, but it's a distinct possibility after "Magnum Z.I." was left off the Senior Circuit's All-Star Squad.
Zimmerman trails only Midsummer Classic starter David Wright in OBP (.383), OPS (.909), and wOBA (.388) among NL hot cornersmen. He's also sitting third in homers (16), batting average (.294), and SLG (.526).
His WAR stands at 3.7—fourth in the NL, ahead of Albert Pujols (3.4) and Chase Utley (3.3). You can't claim to have all the stars without Zimm.
Should have replaced: Omar Infante (really, he had no business being on the team)
Outfielder No. 1: Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham would generously be described as a late bloomer. He didn't make his MLB debut until he was 25, and didn't start getting regular playing time until he was 27, when most players enter their primes.
But now, at 31, it seems like he was just biding his time.
After just half a season, Willingham's 3.2 WAR is already a career high. He's on pace to set personal bests with his .281/.411/.502 slashline with 27 homers.
Should have replaced: Ryan Braun
Outfielder No. 2: Alex Rios
Less than one year ago, the Blue Jays placed Rios on waivers and let the White Sox take him for nothing.
Bet they wish they could take that back.
All but left for dead after a miserable 2009 campaign, Rios is back with a vengeance in 2010. He's posted a .305/.361/.518 slashline with 15 homers and 23 steals through 82 games.
His 3.3 WAR puts him way ahead of his former, better-hyped teammates Jose Bautista (2.3) and Vernon Wells (2.2).
Should have replaced: Vernon Wells
Outfielder No. 3: Aubrey Huff
If you had told me three months ago that Aubrey Huff would be one of the best hitters in the National League this season, I would have laughed in your face. I think I speak for every baseball fan in America when I say we didn't see this coming.
He's been fantastic so far in 2010, hitting .295/.384/.544 with 17 homers and 55 RBI. He's on pace for 5.7 WAR, by far the best of his career.
If you're looking for the reason the Giants' offense has been somewhat respectable this year, your search should stop with Huff.
Should have replaced: Michael Bourn (with Roy Oswalt replacing Brian Wilson to maintain the balance between teams)
Designated Hitter: Brennan Boesch
Brennan Boesch was supposed to play second banana to Austin Jackson in the Tigers' outfield this year. His promotion three months ago didn't command the attention of the league, and FanGraphs' Bryan Smith penned an in-depth analysis explaining that Boesch was likely to be a middle-of-the-road platoon player at best.
Boesch has slugged 12 homers and 49 RBI in just 65 games with Detroit. His .990 OPS and .426 wOBA both rank him as the fourth-best hitter in the league.
Should have replaced: Jose Bautista
Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
It's fitting that the on-field leader of our all-snub team is the single most deserving player to have been left off the team—his 4.2 WAR ranks at the top of the AL pitching leaderboards and beats that of any player who didn't get chosen for the Midsummer Classic.
Liriano's 3.86 ERA is nice, but it doesn't tell the full story. He's combined a devastating ability to miss bats (9.8 K/9) with solid control (2.5 BB/9) for a 3.9 K/BB ratio.
His 2.18 FIP is the best in the majors, and his 2.97 xFIP is the lowest in the Junior Circuit. He doesn't just deserve a spot in the All-Star game; he should be getting momentum for the Cy Young.
Should have replaced: CC Sabathia
Relief Pitcher: Carlos Marmol
Forget Marmol's 2.16 ERA, 16 saves, and 2.06 FIP. The only number that matters here is 16.9.
What is that number, you ask? That's his K/9 rate.
You read that correctly. The fireballer from the Cubs bullpen is averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning. To put that in perspective, boy wonder Stephen Strasburg, who has the second-best such mark in the majors, has only 12.9 K/9.
Something about him just keeps opposing hitters off balance; batters swing at just 50 percent of pitches he throws in the zone, and make contact only 71 percent of the time when they do (both are the lowest figures in the majors).
Should have replaced: Tim Hudson