All-Star Game Thoughts

20090714_americanleague_nationalleague_134492969_home

For an All-Star Game, I don’t think you could have asked for a whole lot more than what we saw last night. One-run baseball, lead changes, web gems and homage to Stan the Man. Not too shabby. As a Senior Circuit fan whose favorite team playing host, it was disappointing to see the NL extend it’s losing streak to yet another presidential term, but all in all it was a pretty decent night of baseball.

Carl Crawford was the right choice for MVP. I am all for rewarding defense, and any metric or fan with some sense will tell you that Carl Crawford has been the best defensive left-fielder since breaking into the league in 2002. The world got to see what Rays’ fans have been spoiled with the past decade. His play — bringing back a HR off the bat of Brad Hawpe (at least it looked like it probably would have went out) — was worth .209 of win expectancy. Add in .009 for his single in the 5th, and he edges out Mariano Rivera‘s .209 WPA, three up, three down save in the 9th. The catch was a bigger play than Curtis Granderson‘s exciting, one-out triple in the 8th inning. (.167).

I personally thought Jason Werth’s catch in center field off of a hard struck ball off the bat of Justin Morneau to end the 7th was the more difficult play, but obviously Crawford’s catch ended up being more important to the game’s outcome.

Charlie Manuel‘s managing irked me in that there just should never should be intentional walks in the All-Star game. The move was a product of having “this one count”, so giving Victor Martinez a free pass was somewhat understandable, but boring. Heath Bell gets his fair share of ground-balls, and Adam Jones hits his fair share of ground-balls, so from that perspective, it makes some sense. It just didn’t work out, with Jones hitting a go-ahead sac fly.

And nothing against Heath Bell, who is having a nice season and all, but I would have liked to have seen Josh Johnson get an inning. Johnson throws on average 95 MPH as a starter, and has quietly become one of the game’s best pitchers. Of course, no one knows that because he’s a Marlin. It would have been nice to see him bring the heat out of the bullpen.

The most questionable move by far was Manuel using Ryan Howard as his pinch-hitter in the 8th in the game’s most crucial situation. With two outs and runners on second and third and Joe Nathan on the mound, the outcome was all too predictable. Howard is a St. Louisan and received a nice hand, so it was a nice sentimental play, but was hardly the right choice. Joe Nathan gets plenty of whiffs and it’s a well known fact that Howard swings and misses just about more than anybody. The strikeout was a killer for the NL to the tune of a -.173 WPA. With the National League needing a single to tie or possibly even possibly go ahead, why not save Howard for the 9th when a solo homer may be needed, and let a more contact-prone hitter like Freddy Sanchez into the game?

The fact that I’m even second-guessing managerial moves means that it was an entertaining game to watch. Thankfully, games that actually matter will be back very soon.




Print This Post



Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

45 Responses to “All-Star Game Thoughts”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Steve C says:

    Why was Werth in center? I know he has played about 1/8th of his games there over his career, but there are no better center fielders (defensively) in the NL?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. JARED ORROCK says:

    JOE MAUER BY FAR MVP OF ALLSTAR GAME: RBI AND WINNING RUN, WHAT MORE DID YOU WANT HIM TO DO.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wrighteous says:

      how about make a catch to save the game from potentially going into extras….

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joe R says:

      ARE YOU OKAY? DO YOU NEED SOME WATER OR VALIUM OR SOMETHING?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ezra says:

      Mauer’s baserunning early on led to the Pujols error; All-Star baserunning to to block the fielder’s sight of the ball.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TMW says:

        This is very true. He stayed directly in front of Pujols’s sightline till the last possible moment then hopped out of the way to induce that error. He was responsible 2 of the ALs runs. I didn’t think anyone really noticed what he did in the 1st inning so I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t get the MVP, but he certainly would have been deserving.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike I says:

      I enjoyed it when he hit the ball 3 inches in front of home plate and nearly GDP if not for a bad throw.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Gilbert says:

    I think there were runners at 1/3 when Howard came up before Hudson stole 2nd. WIth Nathan and Rivera the predictable 8/9 inning pitchers I don’t see Howard more likely to go deep or not whiff against Rivera (might be interesting to check if Nathan has a bigger platoon split since Howard is mostly dangerous vs righties). So Sanchez might have a better chance of getting Gonzalez home with a single, Howard has a better chance of scoring Hudson from 1st.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Sunking1056 says:

    McCann has three total at bats in 4 All Star Games. What does the NL’s best catcher have to do to actually get in the freaking game?!

    (I know I’m biased, but… Come on!)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike I says:

      More of an AL fan, but I loved his beard and glasses/goggles. He looked like a professor. Not a bad hitter, either. I’m a fan.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Bill says:

    Howard wasn’t a horrible choice in that situation, righty vs. lefty. He’s a 307/395/688 against righties… not exactly bad. If Fuentes or another lefty was out there, I understand it being a bad choice, but not against Nathan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Joel says:

    I understand using someone like Sanchez instead of Howard, but somehow I find it extremely unlikely that Ryan Howard has a better chance to homer off Mariano Rivera than Joe Nathan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. 939291 says:

    How about Derek Jeter for MVP? He did score 2 of the 4 runs for the AL

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B says:

      True, getting hit by a pitch and scoring on an error show how much of a winner Derek Jeter is.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rob in CT says:

      I have to assume this is a joke. Right? I looked at the box score (missed the game) and my first thought was “heh, just like Derek to play so-so and somehow score two runs.” I love the guy, but he’s not close to the MVP.

      I thought it was cool that they gave it out for a defensive play. Bravo.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Joe R says:

    Wonder when the Ryan Howard: Unclutch articles come out.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Matt Pullman says:

    “True, getting hit by a pitch and scoring on an error show how much of a winner Derek Jeter is.”

    Hahaha, I love it. Especially when the HBP hit the damn knob of the bat.

    It was a good all-star game, I enjoyed it. Two things I would have loved to see though:
    1) An absolute bomb. Like Prince Fielder getting into a Verlander fastball and sending it 480+.
    2) Andrew “Boss” Bailey. The guy has 2 of the top-6 fastballs in baseball with his 4-seam getting more whiffs than any other fastball and his cutter getting the 6th most whiffs of any fastball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Michael says:

    I too, as a biased Marlins fan, would have liked to see JJ get an inning of work. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the NL all season, and holding him out as one of the extra-innings emergency guys was a bit of a downer.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Phil says:

    Why the Hell was Lincecum starting over Haren again??

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B says:

      Are you serious? I’m a Giants fan, I’m happy Lincecum started, and I wouldn’t be particularly upset if Haren had gotten the nod. If you look at the facts, you’ll see too pitchers who have had incredibly similar years, so I just don’t understand this argument. It’s fine if you would have chosen Haren, you certainly have an argument, but it’s not like he’s clearly had a better year than Lincecum.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phil says:

        WHIP of .081 while pitching in an extreme hitter’s park, while nobody else in the Majors is below 1? ERA+ of 226? K:BB of over 8?

        Wins and Ks aside, Haren’s had the decidedly better season so far in almost every way, even though Lincecum pitches at AT&T. Lower ERA, lower WHIP, lower opp. BA, more IP, etc.

        The only reason Lincecum started was because he won the Cy Young last year. And he has a funky delivery.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B says:

        I noticed you didn’t cite FIP in your argument. Funny, I wonder why that is? Lincecum’s FIP: 2.01. Haren’s FIP: 2.70. Even if you want to make the argument there’s some fluky HR stuff going on there, Lincecum’s xFIP is better than Haren’s, too (though not by that much).

        Look, I think Haren’s had a great season, and I think you have a valid argument that he was deserving. I don’t see how anyone on either side of the argument can be convinced they’re right, though, because neither one has clearly had a better season so far.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phil says:

        FIP gives inordinate weight to strikeouts, and I already pointed out that Lincecum’s got Haren in that department. Haren also has a lower BABIP-against. But in terms of preventing baserunners and preventing runs this season, Haren’s been better than Lincecum, and that’s the pitcher’s job.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B says:

        I agree that FIP certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all stat. I think in general it’s a very good one that carries a lot of weight, though, and in this case it strongly favors Lincecum. Haren’s got points going for him, too, especially that K:BB ratio (ridiculous). I still really don’t see anything but a “take your pick, they’re both deserving” situation, and the Cy Young and marketability of Lincecum was probably the tie-breaker. If you have evidence FIP overweights strikeouts, I’d be interested in what you have. Does anyone know where we can find tRA for these players, too?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Drew M says:

        this is pretty pathetic that you two argue over something so stupid and inconsequential. who cares who starts? who cares that one guy’s numbers are slightly better than the other’s… but the other pitches in a hitter’s park…. but the other gives up more home runs…. but the other stat takes in to acount BLAH BLAH BLAH. just be happy your guys are fantastic enough pitchers to be considered to start for the AS game

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • joser says:

        Uh, Drew, with all due respect, this is a stats-oriented site. Arguing stats is what we do here. If you don’t like seeing that, you might want to stay out of the comments. I find the argument interesting, and neither one of the pitchers is one of “my guys.”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ecp says:

      What do you mean, AGAIN? Lincecum has never started an All Star game before, not over Haren or anybody else.

      That said, I agree, Haren should have been the starter. And Greinke for the AL.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phil says:

        I didn’t mean “again” like it’s Lincecum’s second time. I meant “again” like, remind me again what Charlie Manuel’s reasoning was?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joser says:

      I don’t have any problem with Lincecum starting over Haren; it’s certainly easier to justify than Halladay over Greinke. And I am not one of those rabid KC fans who claimed they were headed for greatness this year and then tried to burn Dave Cameron at the stake for rating the org near the bottom… in fact, I have Jays fans in the family. But strictly by any statistical measure, Greinke earned the start. Though there might be strategic reasons to go with Halladay, since he probably could pitch all 9 innings and a couple of extras if necessary.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. SamoanRob says:

    Loved Manuel IBB’ing Martinez. I’ll hit Howard over Sanchez vs RHP every time. Buck quoted Manuel’s citing Howard’s PH ability (existence notwithstanding, it was a decision factor). Limit rosters to 20 per team. That’s plenty for one game

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. EGC says:

    I found tRA on this site:
    http://www.statcorner.com/

    Lincecum’s tRA is 2.48 while Haren’s is 2.84.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Eric/OR says:

    CARL CRAWFORD?!?! THE GIANTS WOULD NEVER TRADE PABLO SANDOVAL FOR CARL CRAWFORD!! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joser says:

      But Kung Fu Panda couldn’t have made the game anyway — he was busy curing cancer, fighting crime, and bringing peace to the middle east.

      Slightly more seriously, it’s amusing to note that right now on Fangraphs own leaderboard Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval are exactly tied at 3.1 wins each, ahead of a bunch of other guys who actually did make the ASG. Though I have to say, scanning down that list, the names that really jump out at me are Matt Kemp and Franklin Gutierrez, who are not only worth more wins but rank rank #1 and #2 when you look at just center fielders. It’s clear that most of this season’s most valuable players (so far) got invited to St. Louis, but a couple were overlooked. And while it’s nice that a defensive play earned the MVP award (how great was that Granderson / Crawford / Jones outfield?), I’m sure Mr Gutierrez, among others, would think it even nicer if defense was given more weight by the fans who do the voting.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. mjmetro says:

    i didn’t watch the game, but did the NL have anyone on the bench to pinch-hit for tejada in the ninth?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *