When Major League Baseball announced the 143 — or however many they ended up taking — players that had been picked to play in this summer’s All-Star Game last week, I noticed a few names that were missing. Not names that necessarily deserved to be there based on how they had performed so far this year, but names that you’d have expected to be easy picks before the season started. There are some pretty terrific players who weren’t selected to be part of this summer’s festivities.
The collection of names got me wondering whether it would be possible to build a roster of guys who didn’t get an invite to the All-Star Game that could compete with the AL and NL squads head to head. In other words, if I assembled a line-up from the leftovers after MLB was done selecting its All-Stars, could I field a team that was just as good?
So, I shot Dan Szymborski a note and asked if I assembled a line-up of players, would he use his rest-of-season ZIPS projections to simulate match-ups between my squad of outsiders and both All-Star squads. He said he would, so now I just had to figure out if there were enough pieces left to build a roster that could compete after MLB skimmed off the top.
In order to make the simulation easier, we skipped out on the full roster and settled on a starting nine and four pitchers, with the starter for each side going six innings, and then the three relievers each going one inning apiece — the relievers were actually Dan’s additions, so give him credit/blame for the bullpen guys. Here’s the team I ended up assembling, and yes, this the batting order I chose.
The line-up skews a little bit to the right-hand side, but I’m not passing on guys like Braun, Stanton, Longoria, or Beltre just to get another left-handed bat in the middle of the order. It’s kind of amazing that this is a line-up of guys who didn’t get selected to an All-Star Game, as these are some pretty big names. But, could they stack up against the starters from the AL and NL? For reference, here are the line-ups that each of those teams was given for our little experiment.
All the teams are obviously quite good, but how would they do in head to head match-ups? That’s where ZIPS comes in. Using the rest-of-season projections, Dan first matched up The Outsiders against the American League squad.
The result? Basically a draw, as The Outsiders came out with a .502 winning percentage in the simulation. That’s a rounding error, basically, and shows that the leftover guys at least are in the ballpark of being competitive with a group of All-Star starters. It’s hard to celebrate a 50/50 split with any enthusiasm, though, so how would they do against the National League team?
Here, we have The Outsiders once again coming out on top, but this time, with a slightly more impressive .517 winning percentage. Braun, Longoria, Stanton, Strasburg and crew were able to win a small but decisive victory over the NL squad.
Dan also simulated a mock season in which the three teams each played 162 games against each other. The final standings:
The Outsiders: 83-79
American League: 82-80
National League: 78-84
During tonight’s broadcast, you’re likely to hear that the “best players in the world” are gathered in New York. Based on these results, that’s only partially true. A handful of the best players in the world are enjoying a four day vacation, and if they all got together and challenged either of these teams to a friendly contest, we might have ourselves a pretty interesting ballgame.