If there’s one thing that immediately struck me after the announcement of this year’s All-Stars, it’s that there were so many great players in that National League not participating. At this stage, it feels to me that the senior circuit has a greater depth of talent than the American League.
With the AL, you can just about make a case that there really wasn’t a lot of talent missing off the MLB All-Star Game roster when you factor in players that are injured such as Jose Bautista, Lorenzo Cain, Kevin Kiermaier and Felix Hernandez. The National League meanwhile feels as though there are lots more great players missing even though they have perfect health. That’s reflected in my three snubs that you’ll find below, two of which are from the NL.
Brandon Crawford (Giants)
If there’s one player that I am absolutely shocked about missing the opportunity to go to the festivities in San Diego, it’s Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. Addison Russell (Cubs) and Corey Seager (Dodgers) were the two shortstops selected as NL All-Stars, while Aledmys Diaz (Cardinals) has since joined them as an injury replacement for fellow Cardinal infielder Matt Carpenter.
Essentially the only reason that Russell was voted in as the starter is because of the team he played for. If Russell played for almost any other organisation except the Cubs, Seager would be the starting shortstop and deservedly so. However, Crawford makes a compelling case to be next in line given he has the second-highest WAR (3.3) among all NL shortstops behind Seager. He also ranks first in RBIs, sixth in batting average, seventh in doubles and eighth in home runs.
Offensively, there’s plenty of guys that make a better case than Crawford. That said, no one plays defence better than this Giant and his .345 average with runners in scoring position shows that the 29-year-old regularly comes through in the big moments.
His numbers after the first half last year (in which he became an All-Star) aren’t too dissimilar to what they are now, suggesting that it’s only a case of his competition being stronger rather than anything Crawford has control over.
Gregory Polanco (Pirates)
Step aside Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco is the new headline in the Pirates outfield. Though the Pirates All-Star selection went to dominant reliever Mark Melancon, Polanco has reason to consider himself hard done by.
Polanco is leading the team in home runs, doubles, RBIs and walks while also sitting third with a .318 batting average and nine stolen bases. He’s been an all-around dominant player for Pittsburgh this season, and the scary thing is he’s only 24 years old.
If Dexter Fowler isn’t healthy enough to play in the All-Star game, Polanco would be a logical option to come in and take his spot on the roster. With the requirement of having one player from each team, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera was selected as an All-Star. However if such a rule didn’t exist, perhaps Polanco would have taken his spot.
Polanco may be only be playing his second full season in the majors, but it seems a certainty that he’ll be in contention for an All-Star appearance down the track.
Jose Quintana (White Sox)
You can talk about Chris Sale as much as you want, but I believe that the biggest reason for Chicago’s early-season success was their left-handed starter Jose Quintana. In the first month of the season Quintana was 3-1 with a measly 1.47 ERA in a little over 30 innings. During that stretch, he hadn’t allowed a home run and opponents were hitting just .230 against him.
Things haven’t been quite as rosy since, going 0-3 with a 5.51 ERA across five starts in June as the opponents ballooned out to .283. Quintana actually threw more innings in June but he was being forced to throw more pitches and that worked into the hitters favour.
That said, 2016 is still shaping up to be the best season of Quintana’s five-year career in the majors. On three occasions he’s finished the campaign with nine wins but now seems almost a lock to better that. There’s no doubt that Chris Sale has put up the better raw numbers (14-2, 2.93 ERA, 120 IP, 0.98 WHIP) but the All-Star game is about rewarding players who’ve enjoyed an impressive first half and there’s no reason to not give that honour to the 27-year-old Quintana.
Don’t get me wrong, Sale, Cole Hamels, Danny Salazar, Steven Wright and Marco Estrada are five really good starters but you could certainly make a case for Quintana to pitch instead of the knuckleballer Wright or come in as an injury replacement for Estrada.
So there are three of my snubs for the All-Star game. There’s a number of other players that could’ve easily made this list and my fellow writer Andrew Pawling will have a few more of his selections coming later. Who do you think were the biggest snubs? Anyone you were surprised by?