Major League Baseball has expanded its All-Star rosters considerably over the years, to the point where they now stand at 34 players representing each league in the Midsummer Classic. Additionally, injury replacements and a rule regarding the ineligibility of starting pitchers who throw on the Sunday prior to the game expand the number of honorees even further. This year, a total of 80 players can call themselves All-Stars.
Yet, there still are a number of significant oversights, players who are considerably more deserving than those who are going in their places. To me, this short list represents the six most glaring omissions, the players who were astoundingly overlooked by everyone—the fans, the players and the All-Star managers.
Miguel Olivo has been the best catcher in all of baseball so far this season.
Yes, you read that right. He's outperformed Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, John Buck and, more importantly, Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Olivo leads all major league catchers in RBI and all National League catchers in hits and home runs (tied with Rod Barajas). Despite the hit total, he's still about 25 plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting title, but he happens to be hitting .325—the same as league leader Martin Prado—and can boast a .548 slugging percentage, 100 points higher than McCann and pretty darn close to twice as high as Molina's mark.
Of course, I'm not forgetting that Molina's real strength is his defense, so I'll point out that Yadier has thrown out 48.8% of would-be base stealers to lead the National League, while Olivo is second in that category at 46.5%. Molina shares a similarly slight advantage in most other statistics used to measure a catcher's defense.
However, Molina won the fan voting, and McCann was selected by the players, so there's nothing NL manager Charlie Manuel could do about that. But, with All-Star squads consisting of 34 players, 36% more than the standard 25, wouldn't it make sense to carry a third catcher, especially in a situation where the odd-man out is far more deserving than the two already on the squad?
Brennan Boesch just recently reached the minimum number of at bats to qualify for the American League batting title. How is a player who's 4th in the AL in batting average (.342), slugging percentage (.593) and OPS (.990), and 5th in OBP (.397) not in the All-Star game?
There's way too much emphasis on save totals when it comes to evaluating closers. At the end of June, Billy Wagner had just 16, but he's already produced four more in July, still leaving him four behind NL leaders Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero. Regardless, there are only two relief pitchers more All-Star worthy than Wagner this year, and both of them are American Leaguers. Also, one of them happens to be named Mariano Rivera.
Besides Rivera and Jose Valverde, Wagner is the only closer in baseball with a sub-1.50 ERA and a WHIP below 1.00. This, of course, is not to mention the fact that he's 5-0—meaning he's actually pitched well enough to keep his team in games that were non-save situations—and 20 of 23 in save opportunities. Well, actually one of his wins was a blown save, but that's not enough to keep him off the All-Star team, in my opinion.
The position most disrespected by the entire All-Star process is center field. Historically considered one of the critical "up the middle" defensive positions, why center fielders are lumped in with corner outfielders for the purposes of All-Star selection is beyond me. While the position is fairly represented on the two squads, there is not a single everyday center fielder among the starting three for either league.
The National League has three center fielders as All-Star reserves, but they're the completely wrong guys. Unfortunately, all three of them—Michael Bourn, Marlon Byrd and Chris Young—are their teams' sole representatives, but this is hardly justification for leaving the two top performing NL center fielders—Colby Rasmus (.914 OPS, 16 HR, 42 RBI, 51 R, 9 SB) and Carlos Gonzalez (.878 OPS, 17 HR, 60 RBI, 56 R, 12 SB)—out of the mix.
In the American League, Alex Rios (.305 BA, .878 OPS, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 55 R, 23 SB) being left off the team in favor of Jose Bautista and his pathetic .237 batting average is simply a joke. I'm not a big fan of batting average, but there should be some kind of "Mendoza Line" for All-Star qualification, and it would definitely be higher than .237. Or, maybe I should call it the "Bautista Line." I might be onto something here.
MVP Elections – 2006 AL
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