2019 MLB All-Star Snubs
The MLB announced the remaining slots for All-Star Game Sunday night with neither Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who signed the two largest contracts in free agency this offseason, occupying a roster spot. Despite being the two most coveted players in the 2019 free agent class, most would not be surprised to see them excluded from this year’s Midsummer Classic.
In fact, of the 10 players who signed the largest contracts in free agency this past offseason, only Michael Brantley of the Houston Astros will be playing in Cleveland on July 9.
As is the case for every year, there were bound to be some controversial omissions from the rosters, so let’s take a look at this year’s biggest snubs and who each of them should replace.
1B Max Muncy (Los Angeles Dodgers) over Josh Bell (Pittsburgh Pirates)
The National League first basemen group is an embarrassment of riches this season, so there was guaranteed to be a deserving name excluded. However, as incredible as Josh Bell’s slash line of .390/.442/.797 with 12 home runs was in May, here were his numbers in June: .208/.316/.448. and just four home runs.
Meanwhile, Muncy has been more consistent, hitting .287/.404/.585 in June with eight home runs and nearly an equal number of walks as strikeouts. Muncy ‘s 3.1 fWAR (measuring a player’s total production on offense and defense for their respective teams) is not only greater than Bell’s 2.3 fWAR, but also more than NL first baseman starter Freddie Freeman's 2.9 fWAR.
The difference has been Muncy’s far superior defense where he has saved an MLB leading 1.0 runs at first base for the Dodgers, whereas Bell has actually cost the Pirates -9.0 runs.
As impressive as Bell’s numbers look this season, his prolific month of May dramatically skews them and overshadows Muncy's more consistent and better all around year thus far.
1B Luke Voit (New York Yankees) over Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)
The MLB’s most perplexing inclusion Sunday night was Jose Abreu, who ranks only 10th in fWAR among American League first basemen. In a much weaker AL first baseman group, Luke Voit’s 1.6 fWAR trails only AL first baseman starter Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians.
Abreu’s 19 home runs and 60 RBI both top Voit’s 17 home runs and 50 RBI, but Voit has drawn nearly three times the number of walks and boasts an OPS that is 85 points higher than Abreu's.
There may have been a better case for adding Abreu to the AL roster if there were no other White Sox players to choose from, but James McCann and Lucas Giolito already fill that void sufficently. Voit got robbed on Sunday evening.
Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox) over Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians)
Although Lindor is one of the best shortstops in the game, if the Midsummer Classic weren’t in Cleveland this year, Lindor would not have been given the benefit of the doubt. He has missed 19 games this season and ranks only seventh among AL shortstops in fWAR at 2.2.
Conversely, Bogaerts leads MLB shortstops with a 3.7 fWAR in 2019. Bogaerts has hit .299/.392/.540 compared to Lindor’s .291/.349/.498 slash line this season, and he leads MLB shortstops in weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and weighted on-base average (wOBA).
Lindor has established himself as one of the best and most exciting players in baseball over the last handful of seasons, but leaving Bogaerts off the AL roster this year was one of the biggest snubs in recent memory.
Max Kepler/Byron Buxton (Minnesota Twins) or Tommy Pham (Tampa Bay Rays) over Austin Meadows (Tampa Bay Rays) and Whit Merrifield (Kansas City Royals)
The AL outfield is a deep and talented group which made this selection a bit more difficult, especially with Whit Merrifield being the Royals’ lone representative. Each team must have at least one player sent to the All-Star Game and Merrifield was the Royals’ best option.
However, Merrifield is primarily a second baseman and that’s where he was listed on All-Star voting ballots. The best course of action would have been for him to replace Tommy La Stella as the backup second baseman to DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees to create space for another more deserving outfielder.
Austin Meadows is enjoying a breakout season in his first full year with the Tampa Bay Rays, but he hit a pedestrian .206/.274/.299 with zero home runs in June after a hot first two months. If the MLB was insistent on selecting one of the Rays outfielders as a reserve, the more consistent Tommy Pham would have been the better option. Pham also cooled off a bit in June but still is sixth among AL outfielders with a 2.4 fWAR.
The better options for the final two AL outfield slots though were the Minnesota Twins duo of Max Kepler and Byron Buxton whose 3.0 fWAR and 2.7 fWAR, respectively, rank fourth and fifth in the AL. The two have been the best defensive outfielders in baseball this year with Buxton saving 10.2 runs and Kepler 6.9 runs in the outfield.
Cole Hamels (Chicago Cubs) over Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
In a perfect world Hamels would replace Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins, but Alcantara is the Marlins only representative. Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in modern MLB history, but in his age 31 season he has been arguably the least qualified of the remaining pitchers selected to the NL roster.
Although he has had the better career than Hamels, the Chicago Cubs southpaw has been better across the board in 2019:
• Kershaw Stats: 92.0 innings, 3.23 ERA, .241 batting average against, 13 home runs allowed, 82 strikeouts
• Hamels Stats: 99.2 innings, 2.98 ERA, .234 batting average against, 9 home runs allowed, 97 strikeouts
Hamels’ WAR also ranks fourth among NL pitchers and is eight points higher than Kershaw. Plus, the Dodgers pitching staff was already well represented on the NL roster with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler each claiming a spot. It would have been nice to see Hamels be rewarded for his stellar performance this season rather than going with the bigger name in Kershaw.
Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) over Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays)
Stroman has had a terrific season after a rocky 2018 campaign and should be a top target at the trade deadline. Berrios was a rather surprising omission though considering he was a first-time All-Star in 2018 and has been even better this season.
Berrios’ 2.89 ERA ranks sixth among AL starting pitchers compared to a 3.18 ERA for Stroman. Berrios has also thrown seven more total innings than Stroman in one less start with 21 more strikeouts and 12 fewer walks issued.
Stroman had a compelling enough case to be an All-Star, but Blue Jays’ relief pitcher Ken Giles would have been the better choice from Toronto.
Ken Giles (Toronto Blue Jays) over Ryan Pressly (Houston Astros)
Pressly has been one of the better relievers in baseball this year, but he has also blown four saves, whereas Giles has gone 12 for 13 in save opportunities with a 1.29 ERA this season.
Further, Giles has struck out eight more batters in 8.2 fewer innings than Pressly and has allowed only one home run all season. Pressly has the far better team in Houston, but four blown saves is not an All-Star caliber number despite an impressive 1.47 ERA.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Spanish