How they rank: July 14 All-Star edition (they could’ve been stars, too)


The All-Star Game has rosters for each league almost as big as an NFL team on game days. Here’s some stars who aren’t All-Stars, but might have been if only the rosters were big enough. Last rankings in parentheses:

1. St. Louis (1): Carlos Martinez has made 17 starts and allowed two runs or less in 14 of them. He has 10 wins, a 2.52 ERA, a .658 OPS against, 113 strikeouts in 107.1 innings and a 3.0 WAR. He’s been Adam Wainwright in a season the Cardinals didn’t have Wainwright.

2. Kansas City (2): The Royals have seven All-Stars, which is what happens when their manager makes the final picks. Any Royal who deserves to be is there, and almost Omar Infante, despite his -0.4 WAR. If there’s an omission, it’s from the Royals’ deep bullpen, where Ryan Madson — absent from the majors for three full seasons — has a 1.51 ERA and .181 average and .529 OPS against. That’s an All-Star comeback, if nothing else.

3. Pittsburgh (9): Francisco Cervelli replaced Russell Martin at catcher and has been a lot of thing Martin was — feisty (six hit by pitches), clutch, a decent hitter (.294 average, .766 OPS) and a good defender (30% of base stealers thrown out). He’s also been one thing Martin wasn’t — cheap. Cervelli is arbitration eligible, which presents the Pirates with a decision.

4. L.A. Dodgers (3): Clayton Kershaw has a 2.85 ERA, a .602 OPS, .217 batting average against and 160 strikeouts in 123 innings. That may seem like a down season if you’ve won three of the last four Cy Youngs, but it’s an All-Star invitation for anyone else.

5. Washington (5): It seems more natural  to belittle Denard Span, but give him credit: he’s hitting .304, has a .798 OPS and 11 steals without being caught, and is a mite better than Michael Taylor, his heir apparent. But like most of the Nats, he can’t stay healthy.

6. L.A. Angels (14): Huston Street may not be healthy enough to pitch Tuesday — he injured a groin muscle last week — but he’s worthy of doing so. Street has a 2.27 ERA, 24 saves, .513 OPS against and .181 batting average against.

7. N.Y. Yankees (4): DH Alex Rodriguez has 18 homers, 51 RBIs, 46 walks, a .278 average, .898 OPS and 2.4 WAR, similar or better numbers to All-Star Mark Teixeira (22 homers, 62 RBIs, 46 walks, .240 average, .876 OPS and 2.1 WAR). Only a cynic would think Teixeira was picked and ARod not because MLB didn’t want to spend two days talking about A-Rod’s 2014 sabbatical, right?

8. Houston (8): There’s no glamour in the sixth inning, as Will Harris’ omission attests. Harris has allowed just 16 hits and 14 walks in 41.2 innings, and has an 0.87 ERA and .420 OPS. Batters are hitting just .116, and slugging but .217 against Harris. Typically, Harris’ numbers would earn a promtion, but the Astros seem loathe to challenge the Peter Principle.

9. Chicago Cubs (11): Jake Arrieta has a career 4.16 ERA and a career-high of 156.2 innings pitched, but he’s been among the NL’s best starters the last two seasons — he’s 10-5 with a 2.66 ERA, .590 OPS against and 123 strikeouts in 121.2 innings this year. It’s a heartwarming story that A.J. Burnett is a first-time All-Star in his final season, but Arrieta is better and has never been an All-Star either. What if Arrieta  doesn’t get another chance?

10. Minnesota (15): Miguel Sano, who has six extra-base hits, eight walks and 15 strikeouts in his first 37 big-league at-bats, needs another month to make this list. By then the Twins might need find another spot for third baseman Trevor Plouffe (.259, 11 homers, .769 OPS, 0.8 defense WAR, 2.6 WAR), who after deserving replacement All-Star Brian Dozier, has been their next-best regular.

11. N.Y. Mets (6): Like the Phillies, whom they lead by 19 games, the Mets have only one star. Jeurys Familia didn’t make it, despite a tied-for-third-best-in-MLB 27 saves, 1.25 ERA, .501 OPS against and 43 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. The Mets are two games out of first with a combined team offensive WAR of 5.0 — three-tenths less than Bryce Harper’s 5.3. Somebody on their staff besides Jacob deGrom deserves mention.

12. Baltimore (16): Like the Tigers, the Orioles have four All-Stars, or more than most .500 teams. Ubaldo Jimenez has pitched more like an All-Star (7-4, 2.81 ERA, .661 OPS against) than last year (6-8, 4.81 ERA, .737 OPS), which might make the last two years of his contract more palatable.

13. San Francisco (19): Four Giants are All-Stars, which is what happens when their manager gets the final picks. It’s a thank you for last October. Matt Duffy isn’t one of them, but he’s filled a big hole at third base — literally, considering he’s replacing Pablo Sandoval. Duffy has batted .293, hit eight homers and accumulated 2.6 WAR — or 3.2 more than inept free agent Casey McGehee.

14. Tampa Bay (13): Infielder Logan Forsythe has career-highs in home runs (9), RBIs (35), doubles (16), walks (31) and average (.274). Then again, his previous highs weren’t very high. Still, Forsythe has taken on Ben Zobrist’s role of utility regular, playing first, mostly second and third and accumulating 2.4 of WAR.

15. Toronto (12): Defense, especially in the outfield, isn’t often considered in All-Star selections, but it makes Kevin Pillar more valuable than All-Star teammates Jose Bautista (injured) and Russell Martin. Pillar’s offensive contributions are adequate — .278 average, .407 slugging, 13 steals — but nearly half his 2.9 WAR comes from his defense. That may win him a Gold Glove in the fall, but not an All-Star spot, even though WAR says he’s been more valuable than Bautista (2.6) and Martin (2.0).

16. Detroit (7): The Tigers have four All-Stars, including the injured Miguel Cabrera, which is more than a .500 team deserves. That’s because their bullpen has been All-Stars for the opposition. Yoenis Cespedes has won the trade for Rick Porcello with the Red Sox, hitting .297 and slugging .499, good for an .821 OPS despite just 14 walks. Cespedes is a free agent after the season and Porcello signed to a long-term deal for Boston; still not sure who benefits more.

17. Arizona (21): The Diamondbacks are 13th in the NL in ERA, ahead of only the Rockies and Phillies. though no fault of Brad Ziegler. The D’backs’ closer has a 2.45 career ERA, but he’s been better than that in 2015: a 1.18 ERA, 14 saves, .479 OPS and just 21 hits and 10 walks allowed in 38 innings.

18. Texas (24): Yovani Gallardo pitched eight seasons for the Brewers and never lowered his ERA below 3.51. Traded to the AL’s Rangers, Gallardo has a 2.62 ERA and just seven home runs allowed in 113.1 innings — or just one every 16.1 innings (he threw one every nine innings last year. Which, given Gallardo’s pending free agent-status, presents the Rangers with a dilemma.

19. Cleveland (25): A year ago Corey Kluber won 18 games and the AL Cy Young Award. He’s just 4-10 this year, but he hasn’t pitched that much worse. He’s second in MLB in innings (133.1), and 12th in OPS against — his .648 isn’t far off last year’s .624. The disparity? The Indians have scored just 44 runs in his 18 starts.

20. Atlanta (23): The Braves have only one All-Star, and an obvious one (Shelby Miller) at that. That’s a good thing, because given the Braves’ offseason, they’d probably trade anyone else. New acquisition Cameron Maybin is having one of his best seasons. Given his recent history, that may not mean much, but Maybin is hitting .289 with 29 walks, eight home runs and 15 steals.

21. Oakland (26): Scott Kazmir comes into the break dinged, which is about what you would expect from someone who’s topped 200 innings just once since he became a regular in 2005. Even if tendeded an invitation, Kazmir would likely decline based on fragility. But so far in 2015, Kazmir has been better than ever. His 2.49 ERA and .607 OPS against — thanks to just 79 hits in 101.1 innings — are career lows.

22. Boston (22): Brock Holt as an All-Star might feel good in a utilityman mingles with the stars kind of way, but Mookie Betts has been a better player. In nearly 100 more at-bats, Betts has 38 extra-base hits to Holt’s 21, 10 homers to Holt’s two and 13 steals to Holt’s five. Holt may play seven positions, but Betts plays center field well. His 1.5 defensive WAR raises his total WAR to 4.2. 

23. Seattle (20): Third base is crowded in the AL, which KOs an All-Star return for Kyle Seager, who is just off his 2014. Seager is hitting .269 with 12 home runs and 19 doubles, a 3.0 WAR and 0.8 defense WAR, compared to 2014’s .279 with 15 homers and 22 doubles at the break.

24. San Diego (10): The Padres’ lone All-Star, after all those big-name acquisitions, is an outielder with a .253 average and 95 strikeouts (Justin Upton), which explains why there’s so been so little improvement in the Padres. Last year’s closer, Joaquin Benoit, has a 2.39 ERA, six wins, one save, 11 holds, a .537 OPS and .148 batting average against, having allowed just 19 hits in 37.1 innings, far better numbers than the closer who succeeded him, Craig Kimbrel (3.24 ERA, .674 OPS).

25. Miami (17): The Marlins are 13 games below .500, and they built that even before their two All-Star starters — Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon — were hurt. That’s not the fault of A.J. Ramos, who became the closer when Steve Cishek’s failures opened the position. Ramos allowed 198 baserunners in 153.1 innings from 2012-2014, more than half — 96 — by walks or hit by pitches; his walk rate was one every 1.2 innings. This year, he’s walked just 10 in 40.2 innings and allowed 19 hits (only one a homer); he has a 1.11 ERA and .406 OPS against.

26. Cincinnati (18): Johnny Cueto can throw more than fastballs. Witness the tantrum he threw Sunday after being pinch-hit for in another Reds’ loss. Imagine how he reacted to not being an All-Star, despite a 2.73 ERA, .581 OPS and .196 batting average against and 113 strikeouts in 118.2 innings.

27. Chicago White Sox (27): No one added more flops for 2015 than the White Sox, from Melky Cabrera (.643 OPS) to Adam LaRoche (.222 average) to Jeff Samardzija (4.02 ERA). The exception is closer David Robertson, limited to 19 saves because there hasn’t been much to save. Robertson has a 2.45 ERA, .519 OPS against, 53 strikeouts in 36.1 innings and a career-best walk every five-plus innings.

28. Colorado (28): Outfielder Charlie Blackmon was an All-Star in the first half last year (.828 OPS) and a non-star the second half (.698). The Rockies can only hope his second half this year better mirrors his first, which was a lot like last year’s: .291 average, 11 homers, 23 steals, .823 OPS.

29. Milwaukee (29): Reliever Will Smith is an enigma: a lefty reliever who can’t retire lefties, who are hitting .291 against him. Righties are 9-for-69 with just two extra-base hits for a .130 average and .370 OPS. In all, Smith has a 1.87 ERA and .578 OPS against.

30. Philadelphia (30): Jonathan Papelbon is the Phillies’ lone All-Star. Next year it will be third baseman Maikel Franco, who’s hitting .284 and slugging .495 as a rookie for a team that’s lost 62 games. Franco started the season in the minors; imagine the Phillies’ record if he had stayed there.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in baseball, rankings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s