2011 MLB All-Star Game: Is Jordan Zimmermann the National League's Biggest Snub?
Every year deserving players are left off of the All-Star rosters. Usually, though, deserving players make the roster instead.
This year, the focus in the National League will probably be on the position players who were left off of Bruce Bochy's roster. As far as pitchers, who are selected by Bochy and the players, most of the choices were sound. However, one pitcher in particular missed the cut in the NL.
Every team gets a player in the All-Star Game. While the reasoning behind this rule is debatable, one thing is for sure—Jordan Zimmermann should have been the Nationals' delegate to Arizona for this Midsummer Classic.
Instead, his teammate Tyler Clippard, a setup man, will go. While Clippard has had a strong season out of the bullpen, it pales in comparison to what Zimmermann has done as the defacto ace of Washington's staff.
This season, he has thrown a quality start in 81 percent of his starts, barely behind Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels among pitchers with more than 10 starts. Since 2000, only six National League pitchers have surpassed that mark, and four won the Cy Young.
Zimmermann's also sixth in the league with a 1.07 WHIP—tied with Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, and is fifth with a 2.63 ERA, slightly behind Tommy Hanson.
His current rate of a home run every 25 innings is second best in the league. He's also among the top five pitchers in Fielding Independent Pitching, adjusted ERA, and True Runs Allowed.
Yet, while having the best season of any Nationals pitcher since the franchise relocated there in 2005, he's has been hung with an ugly 5-7 record.
His season has been best defined by his most recent start. Zimmermann pitched a complete game, allowing no earned runs. However, Ryan Zimmerman made a throwing error, and the resulting unearned run was the only one of the game, as the Los Angeles Angels topped Washington 1-0, sticking Jordan with the loss.
On the surface, a 5-7 record isn't great for an All-Star. But a closer look reveals that Zimmermann is by far the best starting pitcher in baseball to sport a record below the .500 mark.
Among pitchers who have lost more games than they've won, Zimmermann is first in earned run average, walks plus hits per inning, and home run rate. He ranks second in walk rate and strikeout to walk ratio.
It's true that this just shows that Zimmermann is the best of the losers. It would be better to compare him to some of the starters who made the team.
5-7, 102.2 IP, 2.71 FIP, 2.8 WAR, 1.07 WHIP, 0.4 HR/9, 6.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9
6-1, 77.2 IP, 3.21 FIP, 1.5 WAR, 1.15 WHIP, 0.7 HR/9, 7.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
7-4, 113.1 IP, 2.97 FIP, 2.7 WAR, 1.09 WHIP, 0.6 HR/9, 7.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
As you can see, Zimmermann is much better than Player A and more comparable to Player B. Player A is Ryan Vogelsong, and Player B is Matt Cain. Both are pitchers for the Giants, Bochy's team.
Cain, like Zimmermann, deserves inclusion. Cain holds the edge in strikeouts, but Jordan has shown much better control of the strike zone, beating out Cain's walk and home run rate.
Vogelsong's inclusion, however, is a mystery. The chances of him appearing in the actual game are slim, and the chances of him actually helping the National League win are nearly non-existent.
When questioned about the inclusion of his own fifth starter, Bochy's reasoning was that Vogelsong had "won six of his first seven starts."
In the All-Star Game, where players are based on their own personal performance, wins, which are perhaps the most blatantly team-based stat, should be thrown out the window, giving players like Zimmerman, who are cursed by poor run support or poor defense, a better chance of appearing on baseball's biggest stage.
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