Stephen Strasburg Should Be an All-Star

What is the All-Star Game really about? Joe Posnanski ponders that question in his most recent article.While Posnanski doesn’t answer the question directly, he presents the different opinions of the All-Star Game. When I think about the All-Star Game, I tend to use a combination of two opinions Posnanski presents.

• It’s all about watching the best players in baseball.
• It’s all about watching the best players IN THE FIRST HALF (which is a different thing).

Following that line of reasoning, there is no doubt in my mind that Stephen Strasburg belongs on the NL All-Star Team this season.

Let’s examine the potential arguments against putting Stephen Strasburg on the All-Star team.

1. He hasn’t pitched enough to justify an All-Star selection.

Strasburg has pitched about as much as any reliever on either All-Star team this season. As a matter of fact, the only reliever on the team with more innings pitched than Strasburg is Pittsburgh’s Evan Meek. The skeptics are so quick to point out Strasburg’s lack of playing time, but very few actually seem to realize that most of the relievers selected have actually pitched fewer innings.

2. He’s pitched well, but it’s a small sample. How do we know he won’t regress?

This argument goes hand in hand with our first point (somewhat). Strasburg has accumulated a larger sample (albeit barely) than most of the other relievers selected. A look at his advanced stats reveals a pitcher that is as good as advertised.

Stat	Strasburg	Rank (Among All Pitchers/Among Starters)
K/9	13.01		4th/1st
K/BB	5.3		13th/4th
FIP	1.77		2nd/1st
xFIP	1.88		1st/1st

*Minimum of 30 innings pitched this season

Among starting pitchers, Strasburg ranks 1st in K/9, FIP, and xFIP. Those are truly terrifying numbers for any pitcher, especially a rookie. That level of dominance certainly suggests that Strasburg is already one of the best pitchers in baseball, and is worthy of pitching in the All-Star Game.

3. The league will adjust to Strasburg the second time around.

I suppose this part of the argument cannot be proved until Strasburg gains more experience in the major leagues. At the same time, this is Stephen Strasburg we are talking about! The most hyped pitching prospect in baseball since… well, maybe ever. As the stats in the table above show, it’s not as if Strasburg is using “smoke and mirrors” to confuse opponents. Anyone who has watched Strasburg pitch this season can tell you that he already has three plus pitches, and inferior hitters look useless against him. Much like Mark Prior, it appears only injuries can derail Strasburg’s dominance.

4. He’s young, he will have more opportunities to pitch in the All-Star Game.

Personally, I hope Strasburg goes on to pitch in a number of All-Star Games. The fact is, pitchers are so unpredictable these days, that we can’t be sure Strasburg will remain healthy throughout his career. Perhaps I am overreacting, but because pitching is so uncertain, we can never be 100% sure one guy will remain healthy. If I had to bet, I would guess Strasburg makes a number of All-Star Games throughout his career, but we just never know.

Chances are, Strasburg’s inclusion to the NL Roster would be one of the best things to happen to the MLB. Ratings would probably be higher if Strasburg was on the team. This was the same guy who broke NERD, Carson Cistulli’s method for picking the most exciting baseball games on any given day. Also, and no disrespect to Arthur Rhodes here, most baseball fans would likely rather see Strasburg come out to face Crawford-Hamilton-Morneau in a tie game than Arthur Rhodes. Strasburg’s rise to the majors has been one of the biggest stories of the 2010 season, and this was an opportunity for the “Legend of Strasburg” to grow larger.

Again, Strasburg has already proven that he is a fantastic young pitcher. He will very likely make a number of All-Star Games throughout his career, so I shouldn’t overreact to one snub. While I have dedicated this article to Strasburg, there are many players who were snubbed that were even more deserving than Strasburg this season. I still stand by my premise that Strasburg should have been included on the NL Roster, but (barring health) I’m so glad I will be able to watch his magnificence for many years to come.

*This article was originally written for FoulPole2FoulPole.com




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


11 Responses to “Stephen Strasburg Should Be an All-Star”

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  1. PJ says:

    So many things wrong with this article. The minimum to qualify to be an MLB stats “leader” is 88 innings pitched. Strasburg doesn’t come anywhere near that amount. When the benchmark for generating the league leaders is not even met, and not even close to being met, then we can all safely say that this is a “small sample size.”

    I mean you can look at what Josh Johnson has done in 122 innings pitched. 2.31 FIP, 3.06 xFIP and 9.07 K/9. That’s deserving of an All Star nod. not some guy who can’t even match the innings pitched of Evan freakin’ Meek. We really have no idea if he will regress because he hasn’t pitched enough. Period.

    Hype doesn’t win awards. Stats do.

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  2. tommybones says:

    PJ,
    Your criticism of the article completely ignores the context within the article. He compared the admittedly small amount of innings to the number of innings of all-star relievers. That was the point. If you have a problem with Strasburg based on lack of innings, then you should essentially ban all relievers from playing in the ASG as well. You unintentionally show your hand by cherry-picking the one reliever with more IP than Strasburg on the team, Evan Meek, and comparing HIM to Strasburg. Additionally, your Josh Johnson point is a complete non-sequiter. Johnson is clearly all-star game worthy and nobody, including the author of this article, has stated otherwise. The point, once again, is that Strasburg is denied a spot on the team based on low IP, when he has more innings and better results than most relievers chosen.

    So, the idea that there are “so many things wrong with the article” has not been proven by your criticism.

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  3. Phil says:

    So in your opinion no reliever should ever make the All Star Game, just because they pitch less than starters? So Mariano Rivera should never be an All Star, even though he’s the best reliever all time?

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  4. ingeindahouse says:

    how do people not understand the concept of this article. Phil no where in this does the author say that he doesn’t think that relievers shouldn’t be allowed to pitch in the all-star game. In fact he is basically validating their presence in the all-star game by comparing their inning to the innings strasburg has posted to this point. excellent article Chris i completely agree with you i’ve seen strasburg pitch 3 times in person and if he was pitching today i might actually tune in to the all-star game.

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  5. Andrew says:

    You’re comparing apples to oranges with the IP argument. He hasn’t started enough games to take out a starter for him, and hasn’t had enough appearances to replace a reliever. He has not been an All-Star starting pitcher for the entire first half, only a handful of starts. If a guy starts one game before the break and throws a perfect game with 15 strikeouts, do you want him in the All-Star game after one start? He will have great numbers when he has pitched, but didn’t contribute enough to his team over the long-term.

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  6. joeiq says:

    He’s more deserving that some of the players but overall no.

    even if he deserves it, he shouldn’t play in it because of IP management and such.

    Also there were plenty of other good pitchers.

    Meek was the only pirate so he’s in.

    Marmol should have been ahead of Strasburg in my opinion (also he should have beat Matt Capps).

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  7. Slick says:

    Get off his jock already. He would only get 1 inning to pitch anyways! 2 if he was lucky. That would make you tune into the all star game?? To watch one guy pitch one inning? All star games, have, and always will be a snoozer. It’s just a advertising dollar money grab. Starting lineup selections are made by the most uneducated and blindly faithful, the fans. Then the rest of the reserves are choosen by managers and appear to have little to no bearing on statistical merit for the previous half season. It’s just a lame exhibition game and I hate it. Just like I don’t care about the Pro-Bowl, NHL and NBA all star games.

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  8. 81 says:

    Slick,

    I’m not sure I like your attitude, dude. Mellow.

    81

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  9. Chris Cwik says:

    Slick,

    I would absolutely tune into the All-Star Game if I was guaranteed Strasburg would pitch an inning. I would watch just for that. Josh Johnson was briefly the talk of Twitter after he completely manhandled the AL for one inning. It was truly a dominating performance, and I loved watching him pitch (even if it was only an inning). What I mean to say is “dominance is dominance” it doesn’t matter how long you get to see it. Strasburg has been dominant (and exciting) this year. I would DVR that inning and watch it five times!

    I’m not trying to say you have to like the All-Star Game. I disagree with many aspects of the game. But if you are the type of fan that is going to watch baseball because “it’s baseball,” and you clear your head of expectations, it can be fathomable for at least a few innings.

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