This article was originally written for Sports Haze Bay Area.
Bruce Bochy chose four pitchers from his own San Francisco Giants club to play in Tuesday's Mid-Summer Classic.
A legitimate case could be made for any of them. But none of them had as strong a case as Tommy Hanson.
Hanson was among the top four pitchers in baseball in the five most important categories: WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched=1.016, second), ERA (earned run average=2.44, fourth), wins (10, tied for third), opponent batting average (.190, first) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.5, third).
One would expect the pitching staff with the fourth-best ERA in the league that has been primarily responsible for their team's first-place standing to be well-represented. Except the Braves have a better team ERA (largely because of Hanson) and a better record.
One would also expect the 25th-ranked offense in runs to get no representation. But Bochy also chose third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Panda is in the midst of a 21-game hitting streak and is hitting .303 for the year. But he has missed 32 games with injury and thus has only eight home runs and 29 RBI.
The Braves and Giants were equally represented (five players each), and Bochy said he chose Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel because the team had enough starters. But the choice should not have been Kimbrel or Hanson, but rather both should have been selected even if it meant leaving one of his players off the roster.
How much did ulterior motives play a part in Bruce Bochy's selections and in-game decisions?
Still, Bochy pushed all the right buttons during the game. The National League erased a 1-0 deficit on a three-run home run by game MVP and Milwaukee Brewers free agent-to-be first baseman Prince Fielder.
It looked like Panda might be the only Giant to get in the game for most of it. He extended the lead to 4-1 with a double that drove in Milwaukee's Rickie Weekes.
However, much like one can question Bochy's selection of additional players but not say any one was bad, one might wonder about ulterior motives in his bullpen choices. Saving Giants arms might have been part of the plan, as certainly Lincecum and Cain were not going to pitch.
But the selections not only worked (no runs yielded), but all made sense. Kimbrel was one of six pitchers used to successfully hold onto the lead Fielder gave the senior circuit.
However, when a hit and an error put the tying run in the on-deck circle, Bochy made the call for Brian Wilson. The Beard delivered two outs to end the threat and get the save, giving the NL home-field advantage in the World Series.
Nevertheless, allowing fans who vote in Derek Jeter (not even top-10 among shortstops at this point in his career) and coaches to pick their own players does not jive with having the game mean something. Someone may lose a championship because selections were made for the wrong reasons.
Either make it for the fans or make it mean something, especially when voting by fans can have ulterior motives, as well.