PITTSBURGH, PA — Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan were both named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday for their second straight season. Both players have posted numbers worthy of the nominations.
McCutchen entered game action on Monday as the only player in the Majors with at least 15 home runs, 51 RBI and 14 stolen bases this season. Hanrahan is just one of four pitchers in the Majors with at least 60 saves since the beginning of the 2011 campaign. He’s notched already 20 this season.
But perhaps there were three others that got snubbed from the All-Star game. James McDonald, A.J. Burnett and Jason Grilli all posted numbers worthy of the recognition. McDonald entered game action with just a 2.44 ERA on the season. Over his first 14 starts, the right-hander didn’t allow more than three runs in any start — the only Bucco to do so since 1900. Burnett, too, set a franchise record becoming the first since Dock Ellis in 1974 to win eight straight starts. And in relief, Grilli has whiffed 48 batters over just 30.2 innings while holding opponents to just a .157 average and a 2.05 ERA.
“Last year I addressed it in an aggressive fashion,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I know [Giants skipper Bruce] Bochy readdressed in a very aggressive fashion. And there you go. You’ve got two boys yelling at each other like we did back when we were in high school. I do understand the challenges that come with the entire decision making process from the Managers prospective. I think it’s the Managers prerogative to fill it out the way he feels best suited to fill it out. I felt we had worthy candidates in A.J. and James. We’ll see how the last week plays out.”
With Burnett pitching on Sunday, the right-hander wouldn’t have been available to pitch. But Hurdle said that with McDonald starting on Saturday, his side session would have come on Tuesday making him available.
“It’s challenging. The game has significant meaning so you need to have a competitive squad. There have been years where, they have to have one,” Hurdle said in reference to having at least one player from each team. “I think we were able to change that mindset last year. We didn’t just have to have one. We had some that were worthy and this year we have more that are worthy. And Grilli’s name never even came up other than internally. As you look at the game, you talk about the importance of an eighth inning man, he’s been as good as any eighth inning reliever in baseball this season. There’s [hasn’t] been much publicity or even talked about his opportunity and I think he’s worthy as well.”
“There’s a number of good men to choose from this year. Unfortunately two of our good men were left off as of now. There’s no perfect way,” Hurdle said. “He left Matt Holliday off. Matt Holliday has had a pretty good season as an outfielder. And Johnny Cueto? From my eyes the way I’ve seen that guy pitch this year? I was like ‘holy cow’. Cueto isn’t on that team? He’s been magnificent.”
Hurdle said he had a meeting with the team and talked the importance of representing the Pirates in the All-Star game. The message was heard loud and clear.
“You go there and you bear down, you represent,” Hurdle said. “We need to get that extra home game in the World Series. And nobody laughed in the Clubhouse. [It’s a] sign of growth.”