2011 MLB All-Star Game: Who Ron Washington Got Right and Wrong on the AL Roster
As the caretaker of the American League All-Star team, Ron Washington was tasked with selecting eight players to fill out his 34-man roster.
One less then he needs to write on his lineup card each night as manager of the Texas Rangers.
Did he get any right?
Let's go to the video...er, let's take a look at the scorecard.
Sorry, I had a Warner Wolf flashback. "Let's go to the videotape!" was a staple of Wolf's, who was WCBS-TV's lead sports reporter in New York for 24 years until his unceremonious departure in 2004.
David Price, once considered the 'ace' of the Tampa Bay Rays staff—until James Shields reclaimed the crown, is having another solid season.
However, Price is not having an All-Star season. His 3.56 ERA—up almost a full run from last year's 2.72, ranks 26th in the American League and finds him behind not only Shields but another Tampa Bay Ray, Jeremy Hellickson who sports a 3.21 ERA.
While flashing improved control of his pitches—in 124 innings Price has only walked 23 while striking out nearly a batter an inning—his 8-7 record pales in comparison to another left-handed pitcher who was left off of the AL roster.
The choice should have been the Yankees C.C. Sabathia, who with 12 wins—a total that leads all of baseball, and a 2.90 ERA, is simply having a better season then David Price.
Roy Halladay, starting for the NL, sends a 0-2 fastball down the middle that Washington just watches.
Ron Washington's Stats: 0-1, K.
Useless All-Star Fact: A left-handed pitcher gave up the first home run in All-Star history. The St. Louis Cardinals Bill Hallahan would see his second pitch to Babe Ruth in the bottom of the third inning be sent into the bleachers, driving in Charlie Gehringer and leading the AL to a 4-2 victory over the NL in the 1933 All-Star Game.
Carlos Quentin is what he is—a .250 hitter who can hit 20-25 HR a season.
Aside from his breakout 2008 season, where he went .288/36/100, made the All-Star team and finished third in the AL MVP voting, Quentin has never hit over .260, knocked out 27 HR or driven in 90 RBI in any other season.
This season, Quentin's power numbers are up—17 HR and 50 RBI, but his .253 average is, well, average.
By making another change to the roster, Quentin's presence in the OF is unnecessary and allows his more-deserving teammate to take his rightful place as a 2011 All-Star.
1B Paul Konerko is having an outstanding season and can be found in the Top-10 of nearly every offensive category in the AL.
Hitting .319 with 22 HR and 64 RBI, his .961 OPS is good for fifth in the AL and eighth in all of baseball.
Not only does Cliff Lee get Washington to strike out swinging here, but he hits himself in the head with the bat on the follow-through: 0-2, 2 K.
Useless All-Star Fact: Mickey Mantle holds the record for the most strikeouts in All-Star Game history with 17. The closest active player is Alex Rodriguez with 10.
There is no disputing that Aaron Crow is having an excellent season out of the Royals bullpen: 2-2, 1.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 19 BB and 41 K.
Unfortunately for Crow, there are a handful of middle relievers and setup men in the AL who are just as deserving: David Robertson of the Yankees, David Pauley of the Mariners and Vinnie Pestano of the Indians are all equally deserving of the honor.
As we know, each and every team in baseball must be represented in the All-Star game.
Some people hate this rule, others like it. I happen to think it is a great idea.
Many will argue that Royals LF Alex Gordon, who is off to an excellent start hitting .296 with 10 HR and 46 RBI, should have been the Royals representative.
I agree. The choice here should have been Gordon, especially since Carlos Quentin is no longer an option in the OF.
Ron Washington lines out to Rickie Weeks at 2B: 0-3, 2 K.
Useless All-Star Fact: Don Drysdale has thrown the most innings in the All-Star Game with 19.1. The closest active player? Mariano Rivera with 8.0.
I have had Mr. Kendrick in a keeper league for years, and he has always been Howie.
Apparently tired of having everyone in the league call him 'Mandel', Kendrick has gone by Howard in 2011 and is on pace to have one of, if not his best season thus far.
Kendrick is hitting .307 with 8 HR, 26 RBI, and his .837 OPS is second among all 2B in baseball behind AL starter Robinson Cano.
While a case could be made for the Tampa Bay Rays Ben Zobrist as the backup 2B for the AL, Washington made the right choice here.
Bloop down the LF line, Ron Washington into 2B with a double: 1-4, 2B, 2 K.
Useless All-Star Fact: Of position players who have appeared in at least 10 All-Star Games and accumulated at least 20 at bats, Orlando Cepeda has the lowest career All-Star batting average at .037. Cepeda appeared in 11 All-Star Games, and went 1-for-29 with 1 RBI, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts.
Matt Wieters is the best option for backup catcher that Washington had.
Wieters is having a solid but not spectacular season so far: .269 average, 8 HR, 34 RBI and .735 OPS.
His fellow candidates amongst AL catchers, including AJ Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox, Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians, Russel Martin of the New York Yankees all have similar numbers.
Ron Washington kills two birds with one choice here, securing a backup catcher for AL starter Alex Avila and making sure a member of the Baltimore Orioles was included.
Line drive single up the middle: 2-5, 2B, 2 K.
Useless All-Star Fact: Ron Washington is the first AL All-Star manager since 2007 to not be able to pencil Joe Mauer in as his starting catcher.
Had All-Star selections been made at the end of April, when he was hitting .293 with 6 HR and 19 RBI, then without question Russell Martin would be an All-Star, and possibly the starting catcher for the AL.
Since May 1, Martin is hitting .181 with 4 HR and 15 RBI, and only hitting .219 for the season.
When you take his downright awful numbers and combine them with the presence of two catchers already on the roster, Martin's selection is bizarre to say the least.
The selection should have been Jhonny Peralta from the Detroit Tigers. Peralta's stats: .310 AVG, 14 HR, and 49 RBI are just as good as those of backup AL SS Asdrubal Cabrera, and superior to AL starting SS Derek Jeter.
Peralta can also play 2B and 3B, so his versatility could have been a valuable asset for Ron Washington to have on the bench.
Atlanta's Jonny Venters blows one past a stunned Washington, his third strikeout on the day: 2-6. 2B, 3 K.
Usless All-Star Fact: Whitey Ford has allowed the most runs (13), earned runs (11) and hits (19) in All-Star Game history. The closest active player? Roy Halladay, who has allowed seven runs, six earned runs and 13 hits.
Jose Valverde, tied for second in the AL with 21 saves, is having a good, not great season. Valverde has had trouble with his control this season, offering up 20 walks and a 1.32 WHIP, both putting him well above his career averages.
With Brandon League, Chris Perez and Mariano Rivera in relief, Valverde's spot could be better spent on a pitcher who could go a few innings if needed, and one whose omission from the roster is inexcusable.
Anaheim right-hander Dan Haren is off to a blazing start—his 9 wins, 2.65 ERA, 101 K's and 0.96 WHIP put him amongst the league leaders.
Washington pops out to Yadier Molina, in at C for the NL: 2-7, 2B, 3 K.
Useless All-Star Game Fact: Sid Fernandez, Don Drysdale, Phil Niekro, Bob Feller and Mickey Lolich all have more career All-Star Game saves (1) then All-Time saves leader Trevor Hoffmann, who has none.
Pitcher A: 8-3, 3.02 ERA, 125 IP, 112 H, 39 BB, 109 K and a 1.21 WHIP.
Pitcher B: 8-5, 2.58 ERA, 108 IP, 75 H, 34 BB, 106 K and a 1.01 WHIP.
Which one made the All-Star team?
Pitcher A, Ron Washington's own workhorse for the Texas Rangers, C.J. Wilson.
Pitcher B, the front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, Seattle's Michael Pineda, is the more deserving choice.
Wilson, statistically speaking, is not even the best pitcher on his own team. Rookie Alexi Ogando has more wins, a lower ERA and lower WHIP then Wilson.
Pineda, by comparison, has better numbers then both his All-Star teammate Felix Hernandez and Wilson.
Washington strikes out against NL closer Brian Wilson to end the game: 2-8, 2B, 4 K.
Useless All-Star Game Fact: Warren Spahn has appeared in more All-Star Games then any other pitcher with 17. Mariano Rivera is the closest active player and will make his twelfth appearance on Tuesday. Hank Aaron has appeared in more All-Star Games than any other position player with 25. Derek Jeter is the closest active player and will make his twelfth appearance on Tuesday.
Comparing Changes to the Roster and Closing Thoughts
Ron Washington missed on 6 of his 8 selections, and by doing so has put the AL in a weaker position to secure home field advantage in the World Series.
If he had gone with those I suggested as more worthy selections, I argue that the AL would find themselves in a far more comfortable position.
In: C.C Sabathia, Paul Konerko, Alex Gordon, Jhonny Peralta, Dan Haren, Michael Pineda.
Out: David Price, Carlos Quentin, Aaron Crow, Russell Martin, Jose Valverde, C.J. Wilson.
Of course, with players having to pull out of the game due to injury and other assorted reasons, it is possible that many, if not all of the replacements I suggest will in fact be in the All-Star Game.
Regardless of who is on the field, it will be an exciting game to watch.