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.