Brian Wilson may make you "Fear the Beard", but is he really All-Star worthy?
The MLB All-Star game selection is controversial. Often times there are several players who deserve to be selected but are not either because they're on a bad team, have a quiet demeanor or are simply passed over for someone else.
Case in point: Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It would have been a huge error to leave McCutchen off the roster for talented players like Jay Bruce or Andre Ethier. Fortunately for Pirates fans, Ryan Braun's injury allowed McCutchen to be appointed to the All-Star game after all.
I am not here to tell you who I would have selected for the entire National League roster, but I do want to point out three injustices that are still present. Those injustices fall squarely on the shoulders of manager Bruce Bochy.
Brian McCann is absolutely having the best season of any catcher in baseball. His role as the NL starter is not even a question—but his backup is.
Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals will make his third All-Star game appearance Tuesday. While he has performed reasonably well, and his defense and game-calling remain solid, Molina has been outplayed by Miguel Montero.
If you compare statistics between the two, Montero has a slight edge. While his .270 batting average is a little bit lower than Molina's .279, Montero is getting on base at a better rate and has an edge in slugging percentage by more than 50 points. Clearly, he is the better hitter.
Defense, Molina's strong suit, is not even an advantage for the Cardinal's backstop. Montero has logged 12 more innings at catcher this season and allowed just one more passed ball. But at the same time, Montero has thrown runners out on stolen base attempts at a higher rate.
With better offense and defense fairly similar, Montero would have been the better choice.
It has been a rough ride for third basemen this year. Due to injuries and slow starts, the "hot corner" has been very cold when it comes to performance.
Placido Polanco was voted in as the starter at third base, and it is hard to argue with the fan's selection, especially because Polanco's offense is still adequate and his defense has been great, despite battling through injuries.
The problem is the appointment of Chipper Jones as the reserve third baseman.
Don't get me wrong, I love Chipper Jones. I would have loved to see an All-Star game swan song to the tune of what Cal Ripken Jr. did in his last season. But Chipper was not nearly as deserving as Aramis Ramirez.
When it was announced that Chipper Jones would not play due to a knee injury, I thought for certain Ramirez would be next in line. After all, his numbers sure add up, even if he did start off cold as ice.
You would have never guessed he struggled at all when you look at his current numbers. He is hitting .300 with 22 doubles and 15 home runs. Those numbers certainly qualify him as elite when it comes to third basemen this year.
Instead of Ramirez, Bochy chose Scott Rolen. He obviously did not choose Rolen because of his .244 average or .278 on-base percentage. Instead, Bochy chose Rolen because he tallied the third highest votes by the fans.
I appreciate Bochy considering what the fans want as the game is intended for entertainment. But at the same token, it is abundantly clear Rolen is not having an All-Star season. Aramis Ramirez is.
Perhaps the most egregious of all decisions comes down to pitching. I wish fans were able to vote on pitchers as well. Then again, I believe some players, such as Aroldis Chapman, would get voted in because the fans want to see them play.
In reality, those players don't belong if they are not performing—not in a game where home-field advantage in the World Series is at stake.
One such player who did not deserve his All-Star designation is Bochy's closer, San Francisco's Brian Wilson. Wilson's numbers are adequate for a closer. He has an ERA at 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.40. Most people would expect better though, and we probably will see better in the second half.
But why choose someone with those numbers when you can choose someone like Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves?
Kimbrel has been lights out for the Braves this year. He sports a 2.40 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He also strikes out batters at a much higher rate than Wilson this year.
Most impressive is that Kimbrel holds left-handed hitters to a .157 batting average; that is better than any other pitcher, starter or reliever on the NL roster. I know the AL roster does not have many lefties on their bench (Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Joyce and switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera), but how can you omit from the roster someone with Kimbrel's statistics?
If your answer to that question is that he is a rookie and Wilson was the closer on a World Series championship team, then I ask you how Ryan Vogelsong gets the nod after what at the time was a mere 12 starts—especially over the likes of Tommy Hanson, Shaun Marcum and a host of others with a history of success.
Perhaps Bochy is being a bit of a "homer" in selecting his own players. It is his right to appoint whomever he desires, given the fact that San Francisco was in the World Series last year.
But whoever represents the National League this year better hope the outcome of the 2011 All-Star game does not come down to those three decisions.
Bruce Bochy should know, more than most people, just how important home-field advantage is in the playoffs. His team took advantage of it and jumped out to a two-game lead in the 2010 World Series.