Going By the Numbers, Who Should Win the MLB All-Star Game Final Vote?
The rosters for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game were announced on Tuesday night, but there are still two spots up for grabs (one from each league). Fans have until 4 P.M. ET on Friday, July 8 to vote for who they think deserves to make the squad.
The five guys from the American League (AL) are Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Saunders and George Springer, while the National League (NL) options are Brandon Belt, Ryan Braun, Jake Lamb, Starling Marte and Trevor Story.
American League Options
Let's start with some traditional stats.
Looks fairly evenly matched.
Maybe some advanced stats will help create some separation.
Now the decision starts to become clearer. Pedroia's 117 wRC+ and .138 ISO, both of which are the lowest among the five hitters, knocks him out of contention right away.
Kinsler and Longoria get the chop, as well, despite having the two best fWAR, because each has a wOBA outside the top 20 among AL hitters.
Although Springer has the higher fWAR, Saunders gets the nod, for me, because his wOBA and wRC+ both rank seventh in the AL, whereas Springer's totals are also both outside the top 20. These are both stats used to quantify a hitter's offensive contribution, and Saunders is among the AL's best this season based on these metrics.
Saunders' fWAR is hurt by poor defensive numbers, which dampens his overall value, but offensively, Saunders has been the best player of the five, despite not homering in his last 16 games.
The last time he did go yard, however, he did it three times in the same game.
Michael Saunders hits the 3-home run hat trick. Few hats come flying. #BlueJays #BringerOfSnow pic.twitter.com/PzZVUc3YOW
— Andrew Hockridge (@drewhockridge) June 18, 2016
National League Choices
Again, we'll open with some traditional numbers.
Just as in the AL, there isn't a huge amount of difference among these numbers, except for Story's average and on-base percentage being much lower than the other hitters, and more importantly, Lamb's slugging percentage (SLG) being off the charts.
Lamb's .617 SLG ranks second in baseball, and he is one of only three hitters with a SLG of .600 or better this season. He has the early edge, but let's see if the advanced stats help his case.
That looks like a resounding "yes" to me. Lamb's ISO is second in baseball, and he's one of four players with an ISO of .300 or better.
His wOBA is sixth overall (second-best in the NL), and his wRC+ is tied for eighth-best. He also has a fWAR of at least one win higher than the other four hitters.
This pick is a no-brainer. Our own John Stolnis led off his All-Star Game snubs piece with Lamb, and if it wasn't for a couple stars in Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, Lamb probably wouldn't need to be saved by the final vote in the first place.
Plus, wouldn't it be fun to see Lamb try and top his furthest home run hit this season (446 feet)?
So there you have it, Saunders -- although three other AL candidates certainly have a case -- and Lamb should win the final two spots at this year's All-Star game, but as voting in previous years has shown us, being the most deserving doesn't carry much weight.