The All-Star rosters will be announced later this Sunday. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a virual lock in Felipe Rivero , and Ivan Nova and Josh Harrison have made strong cases as well.
All three Pittsburgh Pirates deserve to go, but as we all know, there are always plenty of snubs for the Midsummer Classic. If only there was a universally acceptable metric to compare how much value each player has produced…
So let’s pretend we live in a Sabermetric utopia where the All-Star game consists of the players with the most WAR (fWAR, to be specific). If that happened, how many Pirates would make the team?
Cervelli wasn’t on an All-Star pace even before his two trips to the concussion disabled list. His .250/.345/.381 line and 98 wRC+ are fairly league average. He’s saved some runs with his glove and his framing, but not nearly as many as Posey or Grandal.
Cervelli is not having a bad year, but he is not living up to the lofty expectations he set in 2015.
The corner infield positions are stacked in the National League. Votto is one of the most celebrated hitters among baseball players and nerds. Goldschmidt very well may be the most complete player in baseball not named “Mike Trout.” Mix in the rookie sensation Cody Bellinger and there just isn’t any room for Bell to break through.
Bell is just going through traditional growing pains. He did just set a franchise rookie record with 30 extra-base hits before the break, which pairs well with an improved glove. He has a good chance at being an All-Star at some point in his career. It just won’t be in 2017.
Harrison and Murphy have been leapfrogging each other all year for the WAR lead. Murphy will likely start because he is the favorite to win the popular vote, but Harrison may be more deserving. His .289/.369/.449 line is good for a 120 wRC+, but his defense is even better (3 DRS in 349.1 innings at second alone).
But as we all know, Harrison’s value extends beyond playing great defense at second. For example…
Oh, hey Josh. Fancy seeing you here again. Bryant, Arenado and Rendon need no introduction. That’s some good company to be in.
Harrison’s utility should be the tiebreaker he needs to get his second All-Star nod. It’s an exhibition game, but both managers still want to win for the prospect of home field advantage. Getting a guy like Harrison who can play four positions well is a valuable asset. He’s more than deserving.
Cozart is having a great breakout campaign and was ahead of Seager in the latest polls released. Those two are by far the most deserving, but if the NL roster carries a third shortstop, Mercer has a chance.
The problem is three shortstops is a lot, especially if a utilityman like Harrison makes the team. This might end up being Mercer’s best season as a major leaguer, but it probably isn’t quite enough to be an All-Star.
There are going to be at least five or six outfielders making the trip to Miami, and there are plenty of worthy candidates. Harper has returned to MVP form after a down year in 2016. Ozuna very well be the best player in Miami right now, and Blackmon is the heart at the top of Colorado’s order.
Even with this crowded field, McCutchen probably would have cracked the top five in WAR had his renaissance started a week or two earlier. Still, his mad dash in June and respect among the league may be enough to sneak him in or get a nomination for the Final Vote.
Extra starters are always added in the days before the big game because they cannot pitch if they started Saturday. That waters down the pool a tad, but it may be what makes Nova an All-Star.
Nova has had a great season and has been everything the Pirates could have hoped for when they re-signed him. It’s also worth noting his bWAR is 3.2, putting him closer to the league’s best. He has a legitimate chance at making the team, but there are others who are just as deserving (for example: Robbie Ray, Jon Lester and Mike Leake).
Jansen is having a stupidly good year, going nearly half the season before issuing his first walk. Knebel’s breakout campaign has been a big reason why Milwaukee is in first place.
Rivero is the best southpaw reliever in the National League. His 0.82 ERA is near the top of the league too, in addition to his 10 strikeouts per nine. There is no reason why Joe Maddon could snub him. You know who else agrees? Joe Maddon.
— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) June 17, 2017
The three Pittsburgh Pirates being mentioned the most seem to be the three most deserving. Rivero and Harrison should be locks. Nova is a no-brainer if you use bWAR, and a coin-flip if you use fWAR. Had McCutchen and Mercer got off to better starts, they might have been valuable enough to make the trip to Miami too. Either way, there will probably be multiple Pirates to root for in the ceremonial game again this year.
The results will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.