The 9 Biggest MLB All-Star Game Snubs
I like the rule that requires every Major League Baseball team to have at least one representative at the All-Star Game each year.
As a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies in the late 1980s and then throughout the '90s, I cared about a team that was usually out of the running for a playoff spot by the time the Midsummer Classic rolled around every July. Typically, those teams were not very good and, as such, didn't have a lot of All-Stars on the roster.
There were many seasons in which the Phils only had one representative at the All-Star Game, but I watched because I wanted to see that one player play on national TV (which was a rarer occurrence in the days before ESPN) and against the American League (before interleague play).
Of course, the rule still exists today, and those who hate the rule do so for a good reason. Because an Atlanta Brave, or a Minnesota Twin, or even a Philadelphia Phillie has to be on the roster, that means there may be a couple roster spots fewer for other players who may be more deserving.
We call them, "The Snubbed."
This year was no different. On Tuesday, MLB announced their All-Star Game roster, and as usual, there were plenty of "snubs" to go around. These players should be playing in San Diego but will instead have to deal with the slings and arrows of a three-day vacation with their loved ones in the middle of the season.
Jake Lamb - Arizona Diamondbacks (3B)
Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be National League third basemen, at least for the next decade or so, given the stranglehold Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant are likely to have on the position. This year, Jake Lamb was squeezed out with the addition of St. Louis' outstanding Matt Carpenter, leaving no room at the inn for the Diamondbacks' fine young slugger.
Lamb is having a monster season, with a 3.4 fWAR and a slugging percentage of .617 that is tops in the National League. He's hitting .292/.367/.617 with 19 home runs and 59 RBI with a wRC+ of 153, tied for fourth-best in the NL.
It's a loaded position, and Lamb's fWAR was fourth-best among National League third basemen, behind the three players chosen to play in the All-Star Game.
Gregory Polanco & Starling Marte - Pittsburgh Pirates (OF)
The omission of the fantastic Pittsburgh duo of Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte is surprising given their overall excellence at the plate and in the field. Instead, the players voted in Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Adam Duvall. Mets manager Terry Collins also had to find room for the Phils' most deserving candidate, Odubel Herrera.
Duvall is having a terrific power season with 22 homers and a slugging percentage of .559, but that .290 on-base percentage is not great. Herrera is having a very nice season, hitting over .300 with a .390 OBP, and Gonzalez has also played well, hitting .315/.364/.555 with 17 home runs.
But Polanco and Marte have every one of them beaten in fWAR. Polanco's 2.9 is tied with Bryce Harper for third-best among qualified National League outfielders, batting .292/.368/.512 with 12 homers, 50 RBI, and 50 runs scored -- all paired with outstanding defense. Marte's 2.4 fWAR is seventh-best, and he owns a .320/.365/.471 slash with 45 runs scored and 25 stolen bases.
Gonzalez' fWAR is 2.2, Herrera's is 2.0, and Duvall's is 1.6.
Marte is included among the five National League finalists in their Final Vote campaign, but Polanco is not. One or both should be on the National League All-Star team.
Brandon Crawford - San Francisco Giants (SS)
It really is surprising how much MLB players ignore defense when it comes to voting in their peers as reserves for the All-Star team. The omission of Brandon Crawford from the roster is glaring, given there is only one player with a better fWAR than Crawford among National League shortstops, Corey Seager (3.9 to 3.3).
Seager is on the team as a reserve, and the fans voted in the Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell, who is sixth among National League shortstops in fWAR at 1.8. Trevor Story was also left off the roster, but he's cooled down some after his red-hot start.
Crawford's wRC+ of 109 isn't world-beating, but he plays elite defense at the most important position on the infield. Once again, his own peers valued offensive production over run prevention, which is why Crawford won't be in San Diego.
Max Scherzer - Washington Nationals (SP)
It's hard to leave off the roster a guy who struck out 20 batters in a single game this season and threw two no-hitters last year. But alas, those were the cards dealt to Max Scherzer this time around.
The National League starting staff is loaded, with nine starters on this year's roster. It's possible Scherzer will be added in the next few days if Clayton Kershaw can't pitch, and it's expected he won't. Scherzer is 9-6 this season with a 3.21 ERA and a 3.71 FIP. His 155 strikeouts lead all National League starters, and his .194 opponents batting average against is fourth-best.
Given Kershaw's injury, it's likely Scherzer ends up on the team. But for now, he's a snub.
Ian Kinsler - Detroit Tigers (2B)
American League manager Ned Yost has two second basemen on his roster, the other-worldly Jose Altuve, who was voted in by the fans and deservedly so, and Robinson Cano, who is having an outstanding season for the Mariners. Altuve and Cano are first and second in terms of fWAR among qualified American League second basemen.
But Ian Kinsler is a close third, hitting .288/.348/.493 with 16 homers, 68 runs scored, 52 RBI, and a wRC+ of 123. Kinsler got lopped off the roster thanks to Yost having to take a Minnesota Twin, going with utility man Eduardo Nunez as that team's lone representative.
Kinsler is among the five American League Final Vote candidates, so he still has a shot.
Aaron Sanchez - Toronto Blue Jays (SP)
The Blue Jays were pleasantly surprised when Aaron Sanchez showed up in spring training and wowed everyone right from the start, cementing a spot in the rotation with an outstanding spring. He's continued that success in the regular season, with a 9-1 record in 17 starts, a 2.91 ERA, and a 2.4 fWAR that is tied with Cleveland's Danny Salazar for fourth-best in the American League.
Sanchez is fourth in innings pitched this year, with 113 1/3 innings, behind Chris Sale, David Price and Corey Kluber. He should be on the team, and it's possible he could still get on, as the American League will have to find a replacement for the injured Wade Davis.
However, Sanchez isn't the only American League starting pitcher who was snubbed and may not have as good a case as the next guy on this list.
Jose Quintana - Chicago White Sox (SP)
Quick, name the starting pitcher with the highest fWAR in the American League.
Well, of course, it's Chicago's Jose Quintana because I asked the question directly under his name, and it would be weird if it was someone else, wouldn't it? His 3.2 fWAR is slightly better than Kluber's 3.1, and yet, Quintana was not included on the American League roster. He is 6-8 this season with a 3.06 ERA and a 3.21 FIP, striking out 8.06 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.18.
If Yost decides to replace Davis with a starting pitcher, he'll have a tough decision to make between Quintana and Sanchez.
George Springer - Houston Astros (OF)
If people are still picking All-Stars by looking at batting average first, they're doing it wrong. While Springer has just a .265 average, his .362 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage, along with his 19 homers and 2.6 fWAR that is tied for fifth-best in the American League, certainly argues for his inclusion.
While Springer's defensive metrics aren't singing his praises at the moment, there is no doubt he is an excellent defender. But that clearly was not a consideration among the players, who voted in power-hitting, yet one-dimensional players such as Carlos Beltran and Mark Trumbo.
You can make the argument that Trumbo, the American League leader in home runs, deserves to be on the team, and certainly, Texas' Ian Desmond, who has the second-most fWAR among American League outfielders, should be an All-Star. But Springer should have been ahead of Beltran, although he could still get in as one of the Final Vote finalists.