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July 5, 2012
The Lineup Card
Nine All-Star Snubs
1. Alex Gordon
But, since we're doing sociological gestures with All-Star roster spots, why will the loudest roar in Kansas City be given to hometown hero... Billy Butler? Since every team needs a representative (a rule aimed straight at the heart of the 10-year-old fans), why not Alex Gordon? Gordon will always be the guy who was drafted before Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Andrew McCutchen, among others. But after what has probably seemed like years of growing pains, Gordon has finally turned into a pretty good player. Sometimes you have to wait and sometimes wait for years, but if you give up too early, you miss out on the good stuff. If we're going to make All-Stars into walking societal metaphors, is Alex Gordon not the perfect embodiment of that message?
Oh, by the way: Hi, everyone. —Russell Carleton
2. Sergio Romo
Sergio Romo has not thrown nearly as many innings as Eric Gagne did in each of those seasons. But on a per-batter basis, he has been just as good. In 2011 and 2012, he has a 1.27 ERA, a 0.72 WHIP, and 13 strikeouts per nine. He has struck out eight batters for every walk, and allowed a home run every 23 innings. His ERA+ is 278. Nobody freaking cares.
Yes, it's sort of ironic that all the talk has been about the Giants' ballot-box stuffers screwing up the balance of the All-Star roster, while I'm complaining that Romo (among other Giants pitchers!) has been snubbed. Not only that, but there should probably be a lot fewer relievers on the All-Star rosters in general, given the nature of what they do, who they are and how they get there. But there are a lot of relievers picked, and they're all worse than Romo. Relievers are this good very rarely, and for a very short time. They burn out. They turn into Eric Gagne, 2007-2008. And it's a little bit of shame that Romo's genius will continue to go unrecognized. —Sam Miller
3. Madison Bumgarner
Since the game is supposed to “mean something,” and it’s not supposed to be considered an exhibition, an argument could be made recent performance should be weighed most heavily. Those in the camp that agree with that argument should be firmly in the corner of Bumgarner being an All-Star. In the month of June, his innings pitched, strikeouts, FIP, and xFIP all ranked in the top five in the National League, and he was tied with two others for the most wins in the month with five. Others may believe that a larger body of work should come into consideration when naming All-Stars. Perhaps looking at a player's performance since the previous year's All-Star game would appease that crowd. Bumgarner comes out smelling like roses when looking over that body of work as well. Since last year's All-Star game, he has pitched 210.2 innings, winning 19 games, losing just eight, with a sparkling 1.75 BB/9, a solid 8.16 K/9, an outstanding 2.69 ERA, and a 1.07 WHIP. While he's not the biggest snub, Bumgarner is a more worthy All-Star than some of his peers selected. —Josh Shepardson
4. Daniel Nava
If you're going with the first way, you'd never, ever, in a billion years select Daniel Nava. If you're going with the second way, there's no way you can't. Nava is hitting .286/.401/.448 in 188 plate appearances for the Red Sox. If getting on base—i.e., not making an out—is the most valuable thing a hitter can do, then Nava is the eighth-most valuable hitter in baseball this season. His walk rate is the highest on the team, and he is third on the Red Sox with 25 walks, trailing only David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, who has had 150 more PAs. Nava has displayed other skills, but when talking about why he should be on the All-Star team, the compelling reason is his ridiculous OBP. That’s only one reason, but to my eyes, it’s a ridiculous and compelling one. —Matthew Kory
5. Thomas Paine
The day that Bud Selig had the insane idea to tie the result of the All-Star Game to home-field advantage in the World Series, it should have ceased to be an exhibition. Teams shouldn’t be built as a showcase to reward players for doing well. Fans shouldn’t get to vote. Every team shouldn’t get a representative. There shouldn’t be a post-vote internet popularity poll. The only thing that should matter is building an actual baseball roster to win the game.
If there is even a whiff of competitive significance to the All-Star Game, then the rosters should be carefully constructed to be as strong as possible. If you’ve got a dominant pitcher in a league, he should start and go as long as he can. Bullpens should be set up for key late-game matchups. Position players should play nine innings, unless you’re platooning. And so on—you get the idea.
Of course, we don’t really want any of these things to happen in an All-Star Game. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about. But Commish Bud changed all that by giving the game’s completely random result real-world consequences. It’s an affront to common sense, and to the legacy of old Tom Paine. —Bradford Doolittle
6. Jed Lowrie
7. Zack Greinke
8. Billy Butler
The roster, as constructed, is perfectly defensible: Cano won the Derby last year, Jose Bautista leads the majors in homers, Mark Trumbo is a nice surprise with 20 homers on the year, and Prince Fielder always crushes the ball. But, as the ultimate in fan service, the Derby is lacking when it leaves off a hometown hero. Billy Butler would be a joy to watch at the Home Run Derby Monday night, for both the Kansas City fans at the ballpark and the fans watching nationwide. —Larry Granillo
9. Jake Peavy