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Chris Archer, Adam Ottavino speak out about All-Star Game snubs

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The 2018 All-Star Game rosters were just announced. One of the obvious snubs is Rays starter Blake Snell. The 25-year-old lefty sports a 12-4 record with a league-best 2.09 ERA along with 132 strikeouts and 44 walks in 116 innings. Snell wasn’t given on the American League roster nor was he included among the five candidates in the Final Vote.

Snell’s rotation-mate Chris Archer took to Instagram to protest the lefty’s exclusion:

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Such a JOKE. @snellzilla4 IS AN ALL STAR.

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Archer also posted a video in which he said:

Guys, I have an issue. My teammate, my close friend Blake Snell was not a unanimous selection for the All-Star Game. That’s a joke. Something like that can’t happen. He leads the league in ERA. That means he’s given up the fewest amount of runs per nine innings out of any starting pitcher in the league. Now, there’s a way that he can get in as an alternate or replacement or a backup, but he’s not that. He should be in the running to start the game. He’s extremely talented. He’s been doing it all year. There’s no reason that this should happen. Players, coaches, managers: we have to do a better job with the selection process so we can put the best talent out on the field for the fans in the Midsummer Classic. If you didn’t have him on your ballot, I hope that next year you take it a little bit more serious and put in the due diligence ’cause this is important.

Astros starter Justin Verlander backed up Archer’s complaint on Twitter, saying, “Also, because we vote waaay too early. Could easily punch in our votes on an iPad a couple days before instead of the old school envelope weeks before.”

On the National League side of things, Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino was one of a handful of snubs. The 32-year-old right-hander carries a 1.79 ERA with a 63/16 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings. However, Ottavino’s exclusion is more understandable because he only ranks 13th among qualified NL relievers in ERA. Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was also snubbed and he leads all NL relievers with a 1.05 ERA. Among those 13, Edubray Ramos, Yoshihisa Hirano, Kyle Barraclough, Jared Hughes, Kirby Yates, Tony Watson, Brandon Morrow, Andrew Chafin, and Arodys Vizcaino were also left off the roster. Can’t bring everyone.

Per Nick Groke of The Athletic, Ottavino said, “I’m not surprised. It’s because I’m on the Rockies. Pitchers don’t get any credit playing for the Rockies.”

Ottavino does have a point. Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly park in baseball and while stats sites like Baseball Reference and FanGraphs make adjustments for park effects, not everyone knows about or cares about adjusting for that. Starter Kyle Freeland was a bigger snub than Ottavino. The lefty has a 3.18 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 37 walks in 110 1/3 innings. While defense-independent stats don’t portray him as a particularly menacing starter, he has more than held his own at Coors Field, putting together a 2.89 ERA at home and 3.38 on the road. Only eight qualified NL starters have a lower ERA and the only one among them not on the NL All-Star roster is the Brewers’ Junior Guerra (2.79). Ottavino has had a terrific season, but if one Rockies pitcher is going to be added to the NL roster, it should be Freeland, not Ottavino.

Evan Gattis says he is ‘done playing’ baseball

Evan Gattis
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In a recent appearance on the 755 Is Real Podcast, hosted by The Athletic’s David O’Brien and former Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty, catcher Evan Gattis confirmed he is “done playing” baseball. Gattis said back in October that he didn’t have any desire to continue playing the game, so this news comes as no surprise.

Gattis, 33, hit .226/.284/.452 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI for the Astros in 2018. The Astros did not extend him a qualifying offer, then $17.9 million. Though reporting on specific offers is scant, it is hard to imagine he received zero offers, or would have received zero offers if he were still interested in playing.

Gattis has one of the more interesting stories out there. He was a well-regarded college baseball prospect, but he battled anxiety and substance abuse. He checked into rehab and, temporarily, abandoned his baseball-related pursuits. Gattis eventually resumed playing college baseball but suffered an injury, prompting him to drop out of college. He went on to take on some not-so-glamorous jobs, including working in a pizza shop, as a parking valet, a ski-lift operator, and a janitor. Gattis battled more mental health issues, suffering from insomnia and depression, resulting in suicidal ideation. He checked into an inpatient psychiatric ward for several days. Afterwards, Gattis roamed around the west coast, going from Colorado to New Mexico to California to Wyoming.

In 2010, Gattis returned to baseball, playing for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He performed rather well, resulting in his being drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round that year. He worked his way through the minors quickly, debuting in the majors in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history. Gattis retires with a career .248/.300/.476 batting line along with 139 home runs, 410 RBI, and 299 runs scored over 2,662 trips to the plate.

The story of Gattis is an important one because mental health in general was not taken seriously, especially among men. It still isn’t, to a large degree, but it’s better now than it was 10 years ago. Due to social taboos and gender norms, men are much less likely to seek help for mental health issues. That Gattis — a burly avatar of testosterone — was willing to be vulnerable about his struggles with his mental health was important.