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

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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.”

Oakland A’s officials taking a tour of a possible waterfront ballpark site

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  A Maersk Line container ship sits docked in a berth  at the Port of Oakland on February 19, 2015 in Oakland, California. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) longshoremen at the Port of Oakland took the day shift off today to attend a union meeting amidst ongoing contract negotiations between dockworkers and terminal operators at west coast ports. The port closure, the seventh one this month, has left 12 container ships stuck at the dock with no workers to load and unload them. The ILWU members at 29 West Coast ports have been without a contract for 9 months. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Oakland Athletics’ ballpark saga has gone on for years now, with false starts in Fremont and San Jose, lawsuits and seemingly interminable talks with the City of Oakland over a new place on the current Coliseum site. That’s all complicated, of course, by the presence of the Raiders, on whose address — be it Oakland, Las Vegas or someplace else — the A’s future is still largely contingent.

The city has tried to get the A’s interested in a waterfront site for several years now. There are a lot of problems with that due mostly to zoning and regulatory matters, as well as proximity to transit and other practical concerns. The artist’s renderings are often pretty, but it takes more than artist’s renderings to make a good ballpark plan.

But no one is giving up on that and, it seems, even the A’s are willing to at least listen to such proposals now:

Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.”

Guess it ain’t so “hush-hush” anymore. As with all Oakland ballpark stories, however, feel free to continue snoozing until someone gives us a real reason to wake up.

Note: The above photo is from the Port of Oakland. I have no idea what the proximity of the working part of the city’s port is to where they’d build a ballpark, but I used this picture because I love the story about how George Lucas spotted those things from an airplane as he was leaving Oakland or San Francisco or whatever and used them as inspiration for the AT-AT Imperial Walkers in “Empire Strikes Back.” Which may be a totally aprocyphal story, but one I love so much that I told it to my kids when we flew in to Oakland back in June and will choose to believe despite whatever evidence you provide.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.