Your HBT guide to this year's biggest All-Star Game snubs

14 Comments

As with any All-Star event that has a limited number of roster spots, there were some rather unfair omissions from this year’s Midsummer Classic. 

But that’s just how it goes.  35 players are selected from the American League and 35 make it from the National League.  There’s no way to sneak a deserving player into the park, and each MLB team must have at least one representative. 

A multi-week fan vote is used to decide the starting position players on each side and the rest of the names are selected through a combination of player ballots and personal picks made by All-Star managers Charlie Manuel and Joe Girardi.

It’s not a perfect system, but a perfect system probably doesn’t exist for matters such as these.  Thus, we are left with the following 2010 All-Star Game snubs:

Guys like Joey Votto, Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis, who still have a shot via MLB’s Final Vote, were not included.  Full rosters can be found here.

Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins

One of the more under-appreciated players in the National League, Uggla has hit 15 home runs and collected 46 RBI in 80 games this season.  He doesn’t have the best reputation on defense, but he has a positive 1.7 UZR/150 as of July 3 and surely deserved the nod over Omar Infante, who is a utility infielder at heart, and Brandon Phillips, who has totaled just 10 homers and 27 RBI in 82 games for Cincinnati.

Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins

What does this man have to do?  Liriano has roared back onto the national baseball scene this year with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 116 strikeouts over 105.2 innings.  He has dominated some of the American League’s most relentless lineups over the first half and he has held left-handed hitters to a .179/.188/.226 batting line.  The 26-year-old southpaw would be awfully useful if the NL decided to go lefty-heavy in the later innings.

Colby Rasmus, CF, Cardinals

Rasmus doesn’t have the bankroll of teammate and NL All-Star reserve Matt Holliday, but he has been miles better at the plate this season.  Through 243 at-bats, the 23-year-old is hitting .280 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI.  His .923 OPS ranks fourth-best among all MLB outfielders.  Holliday, meanwhile, has 11 home runs, 39 RBI and an .872 OPS in 300 at-bats.

Jered Weaver, SP, Angels

The 27-year-old is leading all major league pitchers in strikeouts, boasts a 2.82 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and an 8-3 record, and the All-Star Game is being held at his home park.    Weaver may be the biggest snub of them all. 

Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals

As long as the All-Star Game determines home field advantage for the World Series, it should be treated as a serious contest and not a spectacle or an exhibition.  Strasburg has proven six times now that he is already one of the top pitchers in the majors, let alone the National League.  He has 53 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, a 1.06 WHIP and a 2.45 ERA.  If Manuel and Co. want to win this thing, why leave the game’s best young arm off the roster?

Rafael Soriano, RP, Rays

Soriano has quitely put together a dominant first half down in Tampa Bay and can claim a 1.52 ERA, a 0.74 WHIP and 20 saves in 21 chances as of July 3.  He has done everything the Rays have asked and his ability to keep hitters off balance with a slick fastball-slider arsenal would be ideal for the late innings of the Midsummer Classic.

Mike Pelfrey, SP, Mets

His peripheral numbers could be better, but there is no doubt that Pelfrey has kept the Mets alive in the NL East and deserves a spot on his league’s All-Star roster.  The 26-year-old stands 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and a 66/35 K/BB ratio over 104.1 frames.  He would an ideal innings eater if the game were to run late.

Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals

The impressive rookie has snapped first-year pitching records in St. Louis this season with a 2.10 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 77 strikeouts over his first 94.1 innings.  The Cardinals surely don’t mind that he didn’t make the cut because they’re going to have to limit his workload rather soon, but Garcia is certainly deserving of recognition as one of the first half’s finest starters.

The Padres’ pitching staff

It is July 4, a time to celebrate the birth of our nation, show support for our troops and feast on massive amounts of barbecue.  It’s also time to recognize that the Padres — yes, those khaki-wearing fellows — sit atop the National League West with a 48-33 record. 

The Friars will be represented later this month only by Adrian Gonzalez, and yet it is the San Diego pitching staff that has kept this team ticking.  Mat Latos has a 2.62 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 16 starts.  Clayton Richard has a 2.74 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 16 starts.  Luke Gregerson owns one of the game’s best sliders and has twirled it for a 51/6 K/BB ratio and a 0.60 WHIP over 40.1 innings.  All three of ’em might have made the cut in another year, and under a different system of determining what it means to be an “All-Star.”

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.