First Pitch: Could the Pirates Have Five All-Stars This Year?

Andrew McCutchen has the numbers that would warrant his third trip to the All-Star Game.

Andrew McCutchen has the numbers that would warrant his third trip to the All-Star Game.

I don’t usually follow the All-Star Game that much. Part of that is probably because there hasn’t been much reason to follow the game from the Pirates perspective. Honestly it’s also a nice 2-3 day period where I can relax in the middle of the marathon season, because there’s no games that count. Well, except for the All-Star Game. It counts. It shouldn’t count for anything, but once upon a time the All-Star Game ended in a tie, and to solve the “What happens if we run out of pitchers again” problem, Bud Selig decided to have the All-Star Game determine home field advantage in the World Series. That’s like if you had a problem where the All-Star Game ended in a tie, and you decided to solve the problem by having the game determine home field advantage in the World Series. I’d try to come up with a different metaphor, but I can’t think of anything as absurd as that.

This year the All-Star Game is interesting for Pirates fans. The Pirates don’t have many players who are in contention to be voted in as a starter. Andrew McCutchen was sixth among NL outfielders in the last voting update. Voting ended today, and the rosters will be announced Saturday. Unless McCutchen received a late surge, it’s doubtful he would make it as a starter.

If he’s not voted in, McCutchen should make it. He currently ranks 4th in WAR in the NL. All-Star spots aren’t usually determined by WAR. But among NL outfielders, McCutchen ranks 7th in RBIs, 4th in stolen bases, sixth in batting average, fourth in OBP, and 12th in slugging percentage. He’s not dominating any one stat, but he’s good all around and that should earn him a spot on the team. Well, being the 4th most valuable hitter in the NL should earn him the spot, but the other stats will probably do.

After McCutchen, we start to get into unfamiliar territory for the Pirates. There are several players who deserve to be All-Stars. Consider the following:

**Pedro Alvarez ranks 4th among NL third basemen in WAR, but he’s first in homers and RBIs. He’s also third in the NL in homers. David Wright will probably be voted in, and Matt Carpenter deserves it more than Alvarez as the backup. However, if there are three third basemen, Alvarez deserves the third spot.

**The lowest ERA among starting pitchers in the NL belongs to Clayton Kershaw. That’s not a surprise. The second lowest ERA belongs to Jeff Locke, which has been a surprise. The top five pitchers in ERA are: Kershaw, Locke, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, and Matt Harvey. Normally when we talk about Locke’s numbers, we compare them to the FIP numbers. However, for these purposes, ERA is what Locke has done, and the All-Star spots only consider that aspect. I can’t see how Locke would be excluded from the game due to his numbers, especially when those other four starters seem like locks themselves.

**I apologize for that last pun.

**You know what? No I don’t.

**Who are the two most valuable relievers in the NL this year? Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon. Grilli leads all NL closers in saves with 28. I’m guessing the saves leader usually makes the All-Star Game. Melancon would have a tougher time making the team. Out of 76 qualified NL relievers, he has the best ERA with an unreal 0.87 mark. What’s even more impressive about that is he ranks 9th in innings out of that group. He also ranks 7th in strikeouts. There’s no reason why Melancon shouldn’t make the team based on performance. However, it’s usually tougher for setup men to make the All-Star team, even if they have been the best reliever in the league.

I could see McCutchen, Locke, and Grilli making the team for sure. You could argue that Alvarez and Melancon deserve spots as well. And if Alvarez makes it, you could argue that he should be in the home run derby. As an honorable mention, Russell Martin is also deserving, as he ranks third among NL catchers in WAR, and has been huge for the Pirates this year.

The Pirates had three representatives in 2011 and two in 2012. There’s a chance they could match those totals combined in 2013. And why shouldn’t they? The Pirates are currently the best team in baseball, and the reason they have that record is because the above guys are some of the best in the game at their positions. Even if the Pirates don’t get five players selected to the All-Star Game, it’s nice to know that they have at least five guys who are more than worthy of roster spots.

Links and Notes

**Download the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 12: Prospect Analysis on Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, and Tyler Glasnow. Also includes an interview with 2013 first round pick Reese McGuire.

**The newest episode of the Pirates Roundtable is up. This week we had Jim Rosati from North Side Notch, Ed Giles from In Clemente Weather, and David Manel of Bucs Dugout stopped by.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates International Signing Tracker.

Prospects

**Prospect Watch: Four Hit Game For Reese McGuire In Debut.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates Drop Mets and Reds.

**Minor League Schedule: Sandfort Makes First Start.

**Pirates Sign Seven More International Players.

**Minor Moves: Pirates Release Avila and Herrand; Hanson to the DL.

**Minor Moves: Pirates Release Three More Minor Leaguers.

Pirates

**Phillies Use Four-Run Inning off Cole, Mazzaro to Beat Bucs.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • smurph

    I think it is hard to argue with McCutchen, Grilli and Locke making the team, especially since they are on the best team in baseball. Pretty hard to get more than 3 players unless your team is in New York or LA, or if your manager is selecting the reserve players. Your make legitimate reasons why Pedro and Melancon probably won’t make it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9322566 Mark Lambros

    I would think Matt Carpenter would make it in as a 2B, considering he’s spent over 2/3 of his games there.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=8090&position=2B/3B#fielding

    Which I believe should make Pedro the second best option in the NL.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I didn’t realize he spent that much time at second. FanGraphs had him listed on the 3B leaderboards. I thought they only did that if a guy played the majority of his time at that position. Maybe that’s just defensive leaders.

  • leadoff

    It is too bad Martin can’t go, he is the most important player on the Pirates roster and a top 5 catcher.
    Pedro should go, but his BA will probably stop him, if I had to pick a 3rd basemen in baseball that I would want to keep for the next 8 years, it would be Pedro.

    • benh444

      seriously? machado, wright, longoria, beltre, cabrera and youre gonna take pedro?

      • buster09

        5 to 8 years from now,Wright,Beltre and Cabrera will be in the Albert Pujols Hall Of Fame.Machado will be a 2 or 3 time All Star SS,and Pedro will be hitting 35 HRs and driving in 90 to 105 RBI. Besides Longoria,I know who I would take !

  • http://www.facebook.com/faye.zbuksukcz Faye Zbuksukcz

    Confident the players will vote in Cutch as they seem to like the guy and the players are almost as bad as voting in personal favorites/reputation as the fans are.

    Unfortunately this is also why Locke won’t make it. I’m predicting of the five starters picked by the players, Kershaw, JZimm, Harvey (who will start), Waino and Lee will be the choices. It’s even possible JZimm gets passed over for Strasberg.

    The three relievers the players pick will be Grilli, Chapman and Kimbrel. You can bet the house on that, even though a better case could be made for Paps over Chapman.

    Pedro doesn’t get in because a) the players will take Panda as he won the game last year, b) Bochy is managing and won’t take a third 3b.

    Of Bochy’s nine remaining picks, probably only 3 are pitchers, but he might do four if needed to have both Cubs (T. Wood) & Marlins (Fernandez) represent. I don’t see any other Cubs/Marlins who should make it, not even Stanton. As both those guys are starters, I don’t see room for Locke. If anything, Bochy will probably take Romo and there’s a slight chance he could take Melancon (which would p.o. Rockies/Rex Brothers).

    Martin doesn’t get in because it all likelihood if there is a 3rd catcher/PH needed it’ll be Gaddis.

    So to me, looks like just Cutch & Grilli, although it’s possible Pedro and/or Melancon makes the fan vote for 34th player.

    • buster09

      If you are going to put Gaddis in there,why not Matt Adams ? It makes as much sense.

  • johnj618

    Melancon will be the biggest snub if he isn’t in. A 0.87 ERA, that’s insanely good. Just because he pitches in the 8th inning instead of the 9th, he’s penalized. Saves are an overrated stat and they will put less deserving relievers in ahead of him.

    • buster09

      + 1 john

  • marte-gras

    You guys are talking about AL 3b. Wright is the only argument against pedro n since there playing at citi field theres no way pedro get in ahead of him. And what about Starling! He deserves consideration as well!

  • michaelbro8

    Grilli will definitely get in; probably no one else