We all know that Chicago has a history of stuffing ballot boxes and potentially stealing elections, but who knew that extended to stealing spots in the MLB All-Star Game, too?
While the Chicago Cubs have their entire infield and one outfielder representing the National League in the All-Star Game, the Pittsburgh Pirates have exactly zero position players in the game.
Sure, closer Mark Melancon was — very deservedly — named to the All-Star team, but there were two Pirates players, both outfielders, who were absolutely, completely snubbed: left fielder Starling Marte and right fielder Gregory Polanco.
Based on the fan vote, Dexter Fowler (Cubs), Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) and Yoenis Cespedes (New York Mets) will start the game for the National League in the outfield. It’s hard to argue with any of those selections too much because all three are having reasonably big years. But here’s where things got messed up: The players voted in Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies), Odubel Herrera (Philadelphia Phillies), Marcell Ozuna (Miami Marlins) and Adam Duvall (Cincinnati Reds) instead of either Polanco or Marte.
Marte deserves to be in this game as much as the musical Hamilton deserved to win every single Tony Award this year. He’s been superb. Marte is currently batting .320/.365/.471 with an .836 OPS. His batting average is second in the NL among outfielders, and he has the highest WAR of any outfielder: 3.1.
See also: Mark Melancon named to NL All-Star team
The 24-year-old Polanco is having a breakout season, delivering on all the hype that surrounded him when he made his major league debut in 2013. He’s hitting .297/.374/.521 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs, 50 runs, 24 doubles and nine steals. He also has a 2.2 WAR and an .880 OPS.
Here are the rest of the slash lines for the All-Star outfielders:
Dexter Fowler: .290/.398/.483
Bryce Harper: .260/..402/.498
Yoenis Cespedes: .299/.366/.581
Carlos Gonzalez: .315/.364/.555
Odubel Herrera: .305/.390/.444
Marcell Ozuna: .310/.363/.540
Adam Duvall: .249/.289/.843
If you just look at those lines, the exclusion of Marte and Polanco makes zero sense.
Defensively, their exclusion makes even less sense. Duvall is having a nice season for the Reds, but he played very little left field before this season and hasn’t done much there defensively this year, while Marte, in the same position, has ranked in the top of all NL outfielders in WAR since 2013.
Duvall’s teammate and fellow outfielder Jay Bruce might even deserve the All Star position more than Duvall does. Duvall’s only selling point is his 22 home runs on the season — ooh, look at all that power; he must be the best! — but players, who voted Duvall onto the roster, somehow decided he was worth a spot more than guys who have performed well on both offense and defense (like, say, either Marte or Polanco).
Gonzalez’s numbers look mighty impressive, but they are inflated because he plays home games in Coors Field, a hitter’s dream. His batting average is more than 80 points higher at home than on the road, and his OPS is almost 400 points higher. At 30, Gonzalez isn’t worth much as a defender any more and doesn’t have the speed or defensive talent of, oh, I don’t know, Marte or Polanco.
At least Marte still has a shot to make the All-Star roster through the MLB fan vote. But he’s up against San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (who, at the time of publication, is leading the vote), Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb and Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.
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