2015 All-Star Game Pre-Cap: Almost All-Stars and How Kansas City Broke (or Saved) the Fan Vote

Most blogs or writing sites would like to include surprise players that made the all-star team, and then rip them for not being good enough. I feel like that is an exercise in futility, because A) every team in the MLB must be represented, even the teams devoid of all-star caliber players; and B) because the players and coaches vote the remaining players in. That means that enough people around the league thought that guys like Brock Holt and Joe Panik played well enough to warrant all-star consideration. Who am I to say that the players and managers are wrong? If the all-star game was about selecting the best 25 players in each conference from around the league, then those two stupid rules wouldn’t exist.

However, because of these rules, a few worthy baseball players just missed out on making the Mid-Summer Classic. Here is a list of guys I think should have made the all-star team.

Snubs:

1) Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

The current CF and former 2B has 9 HRs, 45 runs scored, 41RBIs, and 13 stolen bases to go along with a team-leading 2.9 WAR. He started off slow, but picked up the pace the last month and a half.

2) Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

He’s the reason a prospect like Betts is in the outfield. The “Laser Show” has recovered from a wrist injury that marred his 2014 season. With a .306/.367/.452 stat line to go along with 9 HRs, 34 runs scored, and 33 RBIs; Pedroia just missed out on his 5 all-star appearance.

3) Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees

He has the same WAR as all-stars Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder, is second on the Yankees with 16 HRs, and has found the fountain of youth at age 40. I know he didn’t make the team because of the Biogenesis Scandal, but if guys like Cruz and Peralta can get a second chance, why can’t ARod?

4) Jake Arrieta, SP, Chicago Cubs

I’m going to give you a blind stat comparison. Which player is Arrieta?

Player A: 112.2 Innings Pitched, 7 wins, 4 losses, 114 strikeouts, 2.80 Earned Run Average (ERA), 1.05 Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched (WHIP), and 2.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Player B: 113.1 IP, 8 wins, 5 losses, 114 SOs, 3.34 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 2.1 WAR.

If you guessed that Player A is the Cubs’ ace, then you would be correct. But who is Player B? That would be World Series Hero and Giants’ pitcher Madison Bumgarner. According to Fangraphs, Arrieta is sporting a WAR better than all-star pitchers Zack Grienke, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, and the aforementioned Bumgarner. It’s a shame he wasn’t even good enough to make it on to the Final Vote ballet. At least he’ll be an all-star in my heart.

5) Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

The 1B competition is historical brutal, and this year is not exception. With guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, and Adrian Gonzalez not only having all-star seasons but MVP-type seasons it’s not too difficult to see why Votto narrowly missed an ASG birth. If he can take solace in anything, it’s that he’s the odds on favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award this season.

6) Yunel Escobar, 3B/2B, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper and the tremendous Nationals’ pitching staff get all the attention and headlines, which is why it’s easy to forget about the season Yunel Escobar has been having. With a .315/.365/.405 stat line as well as 40 runs scored, 27 RBIs, and solid defense at both 2B and 3B, Escobar has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats. The 9 year veteran from Cuba has acted as Harper’s wing man in the line-up, due to the injuries to Anthony Rendon, Jason Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman.

7) The Losers of the NL and AL Final Vote

Regardless of who gets voted in by the fans, 8 very worthy all-stars will be left empty handed. Guys like Twins 2B Brian Dozier, Rockies SS Troy Tulowski, Cardinals SP Carlos Martinez, Mets CL Jeurys Familia and Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas, league leaders at their respective positions, will be left out of the action. For many on this list, this would be their first all-star appearance. It’s a shame that, because league rules, many deserving players are hung out to dry by the MLB.

Speaking of rules, a big issue with this year’s ASG has to do with fan voting. For much of the summer, Kansas City Royals players were dominating the leader boards whether they deserved an all-star appearance or not.  Fans from opposing teams flooded the online ballots to ensure that players like Omar Infante and Alex Rios wouldn’t be voted in as starters. Many are clamoring for the MLB to change voting rules or the criteria for players to appear on the ballot. This year a broken system was exposed and now this will be a big issue heading into the offseason.

And I think this is pretty great. The ASG voting has been broken for a long time. Actually the whole ASG in general hasn’t been very good in a long time. Players like Omar Infante in 2010, Mark Redman and his 5.71 ERA in 2006, and Gil Meche in 2007 with his 9-13 record do not deserve all-star births. Not all teams need to be represented, and not all players need to be on the ballot. Players who deserve to be in the game should play in the game. I’m tired of seeing utility players and rosters with 8 closers because the game counts. No other all-star game in any other sport counts for anything. It’s just a fun exhibition game where star players show off their skills. The ASG needs to get back to it’s roots and allow the best players to play each, or else what almost happened this year is sure to happen in the near future.

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