Paul Konerko

All-snubs All-Star team led by Paul Konerko, Andrew McCutchen

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A lineup of shoulda-been All-Stars:

Catcher – Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks): The AL found room for three catchers, while the NL had just two.  It really should have been the other way around.  While it would have been just fine for the AL to leave either Russell Martin or Matt Wieters off the team, the NL had three deserving choices in Brian McCann, Yadier Molina and Montero.  Montero has hit .270/.344/.457 with nine homers and 40 RBI this season.  McCann and AL starter Alex Avila are the only catchers with more RBI.

First base – Paul Konerko (White Sox), Mark Teixeira (Yankees): Blame a system that’s gotten too structured; the AL had to take a second actual DH in Michael Young and still carry backups at every infield position.  If manager Ron Washington had a free hand to simply make Young the backup at second or even a utilityman, then there would have been room for Konerko. Even so, it’s rather absurd that the AL team is carrying three catchers, seven outfielders and just two (Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera) from a bumper crop of first basemen.  At least Konerko should win the Final Vote.

Second base – Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox): No big complaints here; only four second basemen were chosen and they were arguably the four most deserving in Robinson Cano and Howie Kendrick in the AL and Rickie Weeks and Brandon Phillips in the NL.  Pedroia, now that he’s found his stroke, certainly could have been taken over Kendrick.  However, as a result of Pedroia’s slow start, Kendrick does have the better OPS of the two by 40 points.

Third base – Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox): I was just happy to see Chipper Jones make it as an NL reserve, though the suddenly red hot Aramis Ramirez may have been more deserving.  Adrian Beltre was picked over Youkilis to back up Alex Rodriguez in the AL even though Youkilis has the better OPS by 100 points.  Still, Beltre is the superior defender and he was one of the AL’s 10-best players last year.

Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta (Tigers): If it were my call, the AL roster would have had three first basemen, three shortstops, two catchers and six outfielders.  Peralta, not Asdrubal Cabrera, has been the league’s best offensive shortstop, having hit .311/.359/.538 with 14 homers this season.  I’d still have taken Cabrera first because of his defense, but both deserved to go.

Outfield – Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Shane Victorino (Phillies), Alex Gordon (Royals): Now this might be the biggest All-Star mystery of all; the NL is carrying eight outfielders, only one of whom (Matt Kemp) actually plays center field.  McCautchen, who is hitting .289/.390/.493 with 12 homers and 15 stolen bases and is the best player on one of the game’s biggest surprises, didn’t even make the Final Vote ballot for some bizarre reason.  Victorino did.  He’s been just as productive as McCutchen, though in 14 fewer games.  Gordon, who is hitting .301/.368/.491, had a fair case on merit alone and should have been the Royals rep over reliever Aaron Crow.

Pitcher: CC Sabathia (Yankees), Tommy Hanson (Braves), Anibal Sanchez (Marlins), Michael Pineda (Mariners), Dan Haren (Angels), Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals), Francisco Cordero (Reds): Incredibly enough, I’m pretty much fine with the pitchers selected.  I don’t get why Ron Washington didn’t take Sabathia, who is due to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and then just go ahead and replace him later.  That’s expected to happen with Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and James Shields, so Pineda and Haren still might make the team.  In the NL, Bruce Bochy’s selection of Ryan Vogelsong was controversial.  Vogelsong has been a terrific story, though, and I can’t say I’m too upset to see him go.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.