Cleveland’s Progressive Field will host this summer’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 9th. Mercifully, the home-field advantage in the World Series is not at stake. The American League’s best will face-off against the best from the National League. In my opinion, some of the best will be watching on television as members of my 2019 MLB All-Snub Team.
The process of voting has changed over the years. The fans-only voting system has been abandoned. This is likely because no one wants to see a guy who broke his leg in April make the all-star team. Former Indians outfielder Wil Cordero was actually selected while spending most of the 1999 season on crutches. The system now involves fan voting in conjunction with major league players and managers. It’s a better system, but not perfect. I thought I would put together a list of one player, from each position, who could have or even should have made the cut.
2019 MLB All-Snub Team
Catcher: Wilson Ramos, Mets
This is a tough one. Wilson Contreras was selected as the starting catcher, and it’s hard to argue with that. The Cubs’ backstop leads all National League catchers in batting average, RBI, and OPS. Meanwhile, Brewers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal leads all NL catchers with 18 home runs. But Wilson Ramos has a solid statistical argument over Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto got off to a strong start this season, but his batting average has plummeted down below .260 in the last few weeks. Ramos has more RBI and a higher on-base percentage. Besides, it’s been a tough year in Queens. Throw the guy a bone.
1st Base: Luke Voit, Yankees
Luke Voit simply has not stopped hitting home runs since being acquired in what looks more and more like a lop-sided trade on July 29th of last year. Voit’s OPS of .907 is second among AL first sackers to all-star Carlos Santana. He also has 17 home runs and 50 RBI which rank him among the top at his position as well. While you can’t argue with the selection of Santana or Jose Abreu, Voit’s numbers are only slightly higher than Daniel Vogelbach’s and someone from the Mariners had to go.
Voit is currently on the IL due to an abdominal strain. Given this, it’s too bad he wasn’t named to the team ahead of Vogelbach. He’s unable to play, but both would have ended up on the club anyway. At least he would have been able to enjoy the festivities.
2nd Base: Gleyber Torres, Yankees
Gleyber Torres was saved from my 2019 MLB All-Snub Team roster, but how he got eventually selected is still a travesty. Torres may have fallen victim to his non-specific position. He was the Yankees’ everyday 2nd baseman a year ago. Injuries, and the astonishing first half of teammate DJ Lemehieu, probably left some people trying to figure out where he fits.
Tommy La Stella’s gruesome injury opened the door to right this wrong. Instead, Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe was selected to replace him. Torres has more RBI, more runs scored, a higher batting average, and slugging percentage than Lowe. There really isn’t a statistical way he’s a better player in 2019 than the Yankees’ 22-year old phenom. I hate to see La Stella get hurt, but I’m glad Torres gets recognized for the tremendous season he’s having.
3rd Base: Rafael Devers, Red Sox
It’s not in my nature to defend a member of the Boston Red Sox, but Rafael Devers deserves to be an all-star. Devers has delivered on all the promise he’s shown in 2017 and 2018. His .331 batting average is by far the best among third basemen in the AL. His 59 RBI rank him at the top among his colleagues as well.
It’s a tough call. Alex Bregman leads all AL third basemen with 23 homers, and Matt Chapman is having another stellar year in Oakland. Tommy La Stella’s numbers are also impressive. The addition of Torres to the team still leaves Devers on my 2019 MLB All-Snub Team, while he ought to be in Cleveland. You could also make an argument for the Yankees’ Gio Urshela, but I digress.
Shortstop: Manny Machado, Padres
To whom much is given, much is expected. Manny Machado was given a 10-year contract worth $300 million, so naturally, a lot was expected. While his numbers are certainly not astounding, they are pretty good. His .268 batting average is a bit under his career mark, but he is still on pace for a 35 homer and 100 RBI season. His 58 RBI at the all-star break is bested by only Javier Baez and Xander Bogaerts at his position. Both will be heading to Cleveland.
Machado has become a bit unpopular over the last few years because of his on-field antics. He’s been guilty of a few unnecessary hard slides and rubbed even a few of his teammates the wrong way with a perceived attitude problem. None of that takes away from the fact that he is still having one hell of a year in San Diego. You can’t tell me there isn’t a place for his bat on this NL squad.
Outfield: Eddie Rosario, Twins
Sometimes guys get selected to the all-star game because of who they are and not because of what they’ve done in that season. Mookie Betts’ selection over Eddie Rosario is as clear an example of that.
Eddie Rosario is on my 2019 MLB All-Snub Team because Mookie Betts is a household name among baseball fans. He was the MVP a year ago on the league’s best team, the eventual world champion Red Sox. But there is simply no way he should have been selected for the mid-summer classic ahead of Eddie Rosario.
Rosario’s first four seasons in Minnesota were very productive, with the left fielder averaging 17 home runs and nearly 80 RBI a year. But this season, the 27-year old has taken the next step. His 20 homers and 60 RBI have him on pace to obliterate his career bests. Both of those numbers and his .282 batting average easily outdo Betts’ numbers for the season.
Starting Pitcher: Frankie Montas, A’s
This year’s American League club has its share of new faces on the pitching staff. Lucas Giolito, Jake Odorizzi, and Mike Minor will all be making their first appearances. But one starter who won’t be making an appearance, Oakland’s Frankie Montas. There is at least one starting pitcher on the roster who certainly does not belong there instead of him, and that is the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka.
Montas, a 26-year-old right-hander, had pitched mostly out the bullpen for Oakland in his first two stints on the big-league club. He broke into the rotation in 2018 with moderate success, winning five games and posting a 3.88 ERA. This season, Montas’ 2.70 ERA is good enough for third in the American League. When Minor went down with an injury, it opened the door for Montas to make his first all-star team. For some reason, Tanaka was selected instead.
Tanaka’s 3.88 ERA is a full run higher than Montas. In fact, Montas has bested him in any statistical category you care to name. He has walked fewer and struck out more. He’s allowed fewer home runs. In short, he’s just been better this season.
Relief Pitcher: Adam Ottavino, Yankees
The New York Yankees have the major’s best record at the all-star break. They’ve had a ton of injuries to their starting lineup and have been fortunate enough to find offense in some strange places. It could be argued, however, that the biggest obstacle has been it’s shaky starting pitching. While Aroldis Chapman was rewarded for his efforts out of the Yankee pen with an all-star selection, free-agent acquisition Adam Ottavino was not. And it could be argued that he has been even more valuable to the Yankees’ success.
The closer’s job is to protect the lead brought into the ninth inning, However, a lead can be lost in the fifth, sixth, or seventh inning just as easily as in the ninth. That is the value of Ottavino. He’s pitched to a 1.88 ERA in 41 appearances this year, with the help of a devastating slider. Those appearances have come at various high leverage points throughout the season. He’s been used as an old school reliever, being brought in to put out fires wherever there might be one. Without him, the Yankees wouldn’t be where they are. So, I think he ought to be on his way to Cleveland.
It’s Hard to Make Everybody Happy
Deserving names will be left off the list for as long as they put together all-star teams. That happens when you only have so many roster spots and so many worthy players. Most of the players who made the cut can’t really be argued against. If you dig deep enough, you can probably find justifications, even for the guys I’ve singled out in this column. It’s part of the fun of the All-Star Game, and it is supposed to be fun.
So, my advice is to just sit back on Tuesday with a cold drink and enjoy the game. If you are Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, or Adam Ottavino, just enjoy the time off. Get your revenge by winning it all in October, boys.
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