The final All-Star spot
Making a case for the last man on the All-Star rosters
Everyone loves debating the All-Star rosters, and we asked our experts to tell us who they thought were the worst All-Star selections, as well as make their case for who should win the vote for the final spot.
1. The least deserving All-Star is __________.
Christina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl ), SweetSpot: It's a tough call, because the easy suspects involve a lot of relievers (Ryan Cook, Huston Street and Fernando Rodney), a rookie (Wade Miley) and a journeyman (Bryan LaHair). Picking from that lot, I'd say Cook is the least deserving, but because of the dopey "an All-Star on every team" rule, the A's had to have somebody. Suffice it to say, the selection process is still deeply flawed and incompatible with the All-Star Game's purported objective to "count."
Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj ), Beaneball: I'm biased against relievers in the All-Star Game, but Jim Johnson's first half screams "LUCK." Check out that .163 batting average on balls in play. And he doesn't even have the "sole representative" excuse because Adam Jones also made the squad. I'd rather have seen Yu Darvish in that spot.
Logan Burdine (@logan_burdine ), Blake Street Bulletin: As is the case every year, there are many undeserving All-Stars. In the AL, Mike Napoli, Curtis Granderson, Prince Fielder and David Ortiz received starting nods despite being outplayed by several other players at their respective positions. However, the most undeserving has to be Matt Kemp. Although he's been great when healthy, Kemp has played just two games since mid-May and only 36 overall.
2. For the vote for the final man, you will be voting for _________ and __________.
Kahrl: Jake Peavy of the White Sox on merit, and Chipper Jones of the Braves because he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer on the way out. If that reflects the ambiguities of what the All-Star Game is about -- exhibition or legit contest -- blame Czar Bud The Only; he makes it so.
Wojciechowski: Yu Darvish and Bryce Harper. Jake Peavy and Jason Hammel have outpitched Darvish on the year, but my main criteria is excitement. Few pitchers are more fun to watch on the mound than Darvish. Similarly, I struggled picking Harper over Michael Bourn, but the Nationals phenom is an undeniably electric player who makes me think crazy things like, "Maybe he could make the All-Star team 21 years in a row like Hank Aaron did."
Burdine: In the AL, I want to vote for Jason Hammel strictly because I like him and always felt like he was undervalued with the Rockies. However, I can't leave Jake Peavy out. He's an early Cy Young candidate. In the NL, I'm voting for Bryce Harper. I don't really care whether he's the most deserving. It's supposed to be an exhibition, and I want to see one of the most exciting 19-year-olds ever to play the game.
3. The starting pitchers for the ASG should be ___________ and __________.
Kahrl: Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. Last year counts, this year they're still great, and honor is due. It isn't like either one of them was a flash in the pan, so why get excited about the flavor of the month? No slam of anyone else, but you can't do better.
Wojciechowski: Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg. I feel for Zack Greinke, toiling in obscurity while pitching every bit as well as Strasburg, but, as in my answers above, excitement matters. Two triple-digit throwers, one who's in his fourth straight "must tune in to every start" season and the other who looks primed to rip off a decade of that same quality? Yes, please.
Burdine: The two starting pitchers should be Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg. They have been the best pitchers this year, and since this game counts, for some reason, they probably should let the two of them battle for a full eight innings. Obviously, that's not happening, but it would make things more interesting.