Strasburg Not an All-Star

Though Stephen Strasburg has made just four major league starts, there is already some buzz that he deserves to make the All-Star team. It seems likely that he’ll end up getting picked by Charlie Manuel, the manager of the NL team, but if the All-Star Game is a representation of the season’s best players, especially when it comes to the pitchers, who aren’t voted on by the fans, Strasburg should not be considered this year. Other pitchers –- those who have been with the big club since Opening Day — have done more for their teams this season.

Strasburg should have six starts in the majors by the time the rosters are announced July 6. Even though his stats are at historical levels for someone who has made four starts, it has been just four games, and those starts have been against the Pirates, Indians, White Sox and Royals, the 30th-, 24th-, 20th- and 17th-ranked offenses in baseball. When the Royals are the best offense you have seen this season, your stats should be taken with a grain of salt.

With 34 players on the All-Star roster, there will probably be 12-14 pitchers selected, and three or four of them will be relievers. That means there are roughly 8-10 spots for starting pitchers. Using WAR, we can pinpoint 11 NL starting pitchers who easily surpass Strasburg in terms of value.

The main reason Strasburg’s WAR is below that of these pitchers is his lack of starts (about one-third fewer than the rest of the league’s starters when the rosters are set), yet even if he continues to pitch at his current level in his next two starts, it will still be hard for him to pass most of the pitchers listed above in seasonal value. He has the quality, but not the quantity, and if we’re just going by the numbers, he’s not an All-Star. Not this year.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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