Could Barry Bonds not make the All-Star team just weeks before setting the all-time home-run record? It’s possible, but then again, so is the major-network development of entertaining scripted television shows. Let’s start with the easy one: Bonds is fourth among NL outfielders in fan voting, having slipped behind Alfonso Soriano in the last week. Fan voting used to track homestands better before voting online was an option, so you can’t argue that he’ll make up ground with the Giants coming home this week. His general unpopularity hurts him as well.
Let’s say he finishes behind Carlos Beltran, Ken Griffey Jr. and Soriano and doesn’t make the team that way. Now, the players would have to find three guys they like better than Bonds. Despite the idea that the players have some additional knowledge that makes them highly qualified for selecting All-Stars, their picks can be categorized as “the guys with good Triple Crown stats in the season’s first few months.” I strongly suspect Matt Holliday gets in here, maybe Carlos Lee or Jason Bay would also sneak in ahead of Bonds. It’s certainly possible, if not likely, that the players would pass on Bonds.
The players also select five starting pitchers, which may be the biggest problem Bonds faces. Matt Morris doesn’t have very good peripheral stats, but he’s fourth in the NL in ERA and tied for fifth in wins. I can name 15 starters more qualified to make the All-Star team–not least because I define the term differently than most people–but they’re not asking me. Morris may get voted onto the squad by the players. That would give the Giants a representative, and obviate the necessity of taking one of the black and orange to fill out the roster. If Morris doesn’t, and the decision comes down to him or Bonds to represent the Giants, the correct answer seems obvious.
Let’s say Morris makes the team, leaving La Russa with seven roster spots, three for hitters. I’m guessing at least three of those spots will have to go to mandatory representatives, although there are enough random Hollidays and Bays this year that only the Nationals are likely to lack a deserving All-Star. La Russa would have to find three position players who are more attractive than one of the game’s all-time great players, closing in on its most cherished all-time record, leading the league in OBP and OPS and among the league leaders in SLG, with the game being played in that player’s home park.
Hey, George Will never wrote a quarter of a book about me, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Tony La Russa is smart enough to figure out the obvious answer here. Barry Bonds is going to be on the NL All-Star team.