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