Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the All-Star Game in Anaheim, California. Who got snubbed? Who needed an inside job to get them in? Does anything need to change in the All-Star game?
All that and more this week in baseball. Let’s go.
San Diego Padres Pitching
The best staff in the NL only got 1 guy? Mat Latos probably should be on this roster, and if not for Strasburg, everyone might have realized this guy is only 22. Same thing could be said about Clayton Kershaw for that matter. However, the Padres pitching has been outstanding and kind of got screwed in the voting. Their bullpen is great, but there are very few middle relievers picked for the All-Star game. Then, you have their exceptional starters like Clayton Richard and Mat Latos who would make it it most years, but this year is particularly pitcher-heavy in the NL with names like Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Halladay and Wainwright. Heath Bell is a worthy representative, but the San Diego pitching staff was a bit unlucky to only get one guy.
The NL MVP did not get selected. You heard me. He did ultimately win the fan voting, but it never should have come to that. I understand that Ryan Howard is hitting a very robust .299 and that Charlie Manuel can pick his own guy, but Votto is the NL MVP right now. He is tied for the NL lead in home runs, is .17 off of the lead in average, and 5 RBI short of the lead. To my count, that is a legitimate triple crown contender playing in a hitter’s ballpark. He definitely should have been an All-Star and that is pretty much accepted at this point. Baseball fans usually get the voting right, but they made a pretty serious omission here.
Weaver does not have quite the case that Votto does, but the young Angels ace probably should have made it at his home park. He is top 5 in the majors in strikeouts, and has really risen to the surface as a pitcher the Angels can count on every fifth day. Weaver got a little bit of a bad break with Shin-Soo Choo’s injury which forced Fausto Carmona into the game, but he still could make it as an alternate or an injury replacement. He is deserving of an All-Star nod, but did not quite have the support needed.
Alright, I get what Charlie was trying to do here. In a game that “matters”, you like a guy who can move around the field and play about every position. It gives the NL a lot of flexibility that other players may not give them. His averages are pretty fair, but he is not an everyday player, and there are plenty of other options who are everyday guys. He is not an awful choice, but there are better options (see Votto above)
Who Should Start for the NL?
Josh Johnson has been the best pitcher in the NL this year, so it is a little strange for me to be sitting here saying Ubaldo Jimenez should start. You should reward winning at some point, and Ubaldo has racked up 15 wins for an NL West contender. Johnson could not have been much better, and, as I said, he has been the best pitcher in the NL this year. However, I think Ubaldo needs to take the mound for the NL. You really can’t go wrong when the first 5 or 6 innings of your game will be pitched by Jimenez, Johnson, and Halladay, but I think Ubaldo should start because he has meant a little more to his team than Johnson. Fair or not, I’m sticking to it. I can’t really argue against Johnson, I just think Ubaldo should be the starter.
It seems like everything that comes up in baseball means that we need our own section for Stephen Strasburg. I am split on this, but I ultimately think he should not make the team. I certainly think that NL fans would love to see Strasburg pitch an inning, but Strasburg 1) is not especially good in first innings (he would only be throwing 1 inning) and 2) has not put in a full year of work yet. If the game did not count for anything (more on that in a second), I would absolutely favor him playing, but I think that at the end of the day, there are guys more deserving of that spot. It is close, but I’m ok with him not making it.
Every Team Represented
I am still for it. I know it cuts people out every year, but it is good for ratings, and good for every team feeling like they have a fighting chance at earning themselves home-field advantage. I would be in favor of getting rid of this aspect if we go back to the 25 man roster, but until then, let’s keep a player per team. Not a ton to ask when there are 34 spots. Hell, I could even make an argument that the bigger problem is the Yankees and Red Sox having like 10 guys every year.
Home Field Advantage in the World Series
I am sort of iffy on this too, but I do like the aspect of it mattering. However, I would have absolutely no objection to just trashing the rule. There is the concern about the players not taking it seriously, but who did not love Larry Walker v Randy Johnson? Those moments of levity are a lot of fun for everyone, and the players are competitive enough that they are not going to just go out and embarrass themselves. Maybe there is a better way to make it matter than making it home-field, but it will take some brainstorming. I like using interleague to determine that anyway. You can’t really incentivize it with money with how much these guys get paid, so you would need to find some other way. I will leave the brainstorming for another week, but it is something that should be addressed, if not changed.
Last year, I did my 2nd half predictions at the All-Star break, and was WAY off as the trade deadline cast my predictions asunder. We will wait until August 1st to do it, so look forward to that and enjoy the All-Star break.