Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2022 MLB All-Star Roster
There's no longer any mystery about which players will be at Dodger Stadium on July 19 for the 2022 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The starters, reserves and legacy selections for the American League and National League rosters have all been revealed.
Rather than break down every single selection, we figured we'd get right to the point and pick our biggest winners and losers for these reveals.
If you're thinking the losers are various kinds of snubs, well, you're not wrong. Yet the winners cover a more diverse array of stories, from pleasant surprises to triumphant comebacks to the just plain heartwarming.
Let's get to it.
Winner: Shohei Ohtani
It was a big deal when Shohei Ohtani became the first player to make a major league All-Star team as both a hitter and a pitcher in 2021. He must have enjoyed the experience because he's done it again this year.
You know, just in case there was any lingering doubt that to watch Ohtani is to watch the greatest two-way player in baseball history.
This is perhaps truer now than at any other point in Ohtani's 10 years as a pro in Japan and North America. He's been red-hot for the Los Angeles Angels at both the plate and on the mound, posting a .981 OPS at the former and a 0.27 ERA on the latter since June 9.
The odds of Ohtani winning a second straight AL MVP award suddenly look pretty good. There's still Aaron Judge and his league-leading 30 home runs, but Ohtani is once again leading the AL with 4.3 wins above replacement.
In the meantime, the 28-year-old has unfinished business to tend to in the Midsummer Classic. Though he started and batted leadoff for the AL squad in last year's contest, he collected neither a hit as a batter nor recorded a strikeout as a pitcher.
Loser: Yordan Alvarez
When the AL and NL squads suit up to play the Midsummer Classic, arguably the most notable absence will be that of Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez.
He never was going to start the game, as fans instead (and not unjustifiably) went for Ohtani in the voting for the AL's designated hitter. But after going on the injured list on Sunday with right hand inflammation, now Alvarez won't play at all.
It all amounts to a bummer for Alvarez himself. Though the 25-year-old was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2019 and the MVP of the American League Championship Series in 2021, an All-Star start this year would have been his first.
If you're one to appreciate good hitting, it's a bummer for you, too.
Indeed, to merely call Alvarez's hitting this season "good" is an understatement. He's hitting .306 with a .405 on-base percentage and league-best marks for slugging at .653 and OPS at 1.058. Throw in by far the highest seasonal xwOBA of the eight-year Statcast era, and Alvarez has a strong claim to the "best hitter in baseball" throne.
Winners: The Contreras Brothers
If you're the type to comb through All-Star rosters in search of human-interest stories, allow us to save you some time by pointing in the direction of the National League's starting catcher and designated hitter.
As noted by ESPN's Jeff Passan, those two spots are occupied by brothers:
This is not only awesome, but perfectly reasonable.
As he's put up an .867 OPS and 13 home runs for the Chicago Cubs, Willson Contreras is standing apart as the best backstop in the Senior Circuit. Though William Contreras has only played in 42 games for Atlanta, he's made quite the impression with a .924 OPS and 11 long balls splitting time between catcher and DH.
The Contreras brothers have combined to record 4.2 fWAR to this point in 2022. The Alomar brothers also put up 4.2 fWAR in the first half of 1992, so there's some nice symmetry here in addition to that human-interest story you might be looking for.
Loser: Carlos Rodon
It's a drag that Alvarez won't be on the field next Tuesday, but it's hard to call him an outright snub given that he at least made the cut as a reserve for the American League squad.
As for the most egregious actual snubs, the first that catches our eye is San Francisco Giants left-hander Carlos Rodon.
Chances are he'll eventually be named as a replacement for someone, but Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area succinctly summed up why he should have made the first cut:
Still another stat that favors the 29-year-old is expected ERA, which calculates where his ERA should be based on the quantity and quality of the contact he's allowing. At 2.70, it's exactly the same as his actual ERA and tied for fourth among qualified starting pitchers.
There's a bit of irony in play here in the sense that Rodon was one of our winners from last year's All-Star selections—not just because he absolutely deserved the recognition, but that it came in the wake of him getting non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox the previous winter.
As he's dominating this season after signing a two-year, $44 million contract with the Giants, perhaps his only true sin is that he's doing what he's now expected to do in lieu of fulfilling a comeback story narrative.
Winner: Justin Verlander
Speaking of comeback story narratives, Justin Verlander rightfully got All-Star recognition for the one he's writing this season.
He's certainly a deserving All-Star based on what he's done through 16 starts for the Astros. He's racked up 11 wins against only three losses, with a 2.00 ERA and a 98-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If not the man to beat, he's at least in the conversation for the AL Cy Young Award.
Though the Astros might have hoped for a season like this from Verlander, they would have been justified in not daring to expect it.
He basically didn't pitch at all in 2020 and 2021, making one start in July of the former year before ultimately undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. His recovery cost him the entirety of the '21 season, and he turned 39 before this season began.
Before Verlander, the history of 39-year-old starters making successful comebacks from Tommy John was basically nonexistent. Not anymore. Along with his MVP, two Cy Youngs, three no-hitters, World Series ring and now nine All-Star selections, it's yet another item on a resume that's going to get him into the Hall of Fame one day.
Losers: Spencer Strider and Rookie Pitchers
Courtesy of Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez's selection, there will be at least one rookie in this year's All-Star Game. And in case you don't yet know him, he's good.
But for now, at least, there will be no rookie pitchers to join Rodriguez.
Among other things, that means that anyone who tunes into the Midsummer Classic might not get a chance to see Atlanta's Spencer Strider throw his fastball. He does that a lot, and he's gotten it as high as 102 mph.
It's largely because of all that heat that Strider is arguably the most overpowering pitcher in baseball right now. To wit, his 39.1 strikeout percentage is easily the highest among all hurlers who've logged at least 60 innings.
In addition to Strider, Texas Rangers lefty Brock Burke (1.22 ERA), Baltimore Orioles righty Felix Bautista (1.77 ERA) and Minnesota Twins righty Jhoan Duran (100.6 mph average fastball) are other rookie hurlers who must now hope to be named as replacement All-Stars.
Winners: Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera
Though it flew under the radar until very recently, the clause that allows Commissioner Rob Manfred to add players to All-Star rosters in recognition of their career achievements gets our vote as one of the best parts of the new collective bargaining agreement.
And, really, what better way to introduce this concept than through special selections for Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera?
Pujols, 42, announced upon signing a deal to return to the St. Louis Cardinals in March that the 2022 season would be his last. Cabrera, 39, has one more guaranteed year on his contract with the Detroit Tigers, but the opportunity to share in Pujols' final farewell is just fine by the man himself:
With Pujols hitting just .215 and Cabrera recording only 10 extra-base hits to go with his .295 average, neither player would have made the All-Star Game under normal circumstances. Yet when they appear at Chavez Ravine next Tuesday, fans will be thinking less about that and a lot more about the two sluggers' other credentials. They're two of only seven hitters with more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, and they have five MVP awards between them.
They made a lot of memories for a lot of people in achieving these things, so the "thank you" they're about to get next week is the least they deserve.
Loser: Tommy Edman
There are three Cardinals atop the rWAR leaderboard for position players, and two of them will be present at the Midsummer Classic.
The exception? Tommy Edman.
You're not going to come away very impressed if you focus solely on the 27-year-old's batting numbers. He's hitting just .257 with a .699 OPS, with only seven of his 22 extra-base hits leaving the yard for home runs.
But while Edman may not be a standout hitter, he might be the best baserunner and defender in the game right now. He's 19-for-22 in stolen bases and at the top of the charts for baserunning runs. And between his work at second base and shortstop, he's already accounted for 16 defensive runs saved.
Along with Rodon and other notable position player snubs—don't think we don't see you, Ty France—Edman stands a good chance at earning an All-Star nod as a replacement for someone who's injured or otherwise unable to play. For now, though, he has a bigger gripe than most.