Yesterday I discussed how Pat Burrell‘s apparent all star snub was the most egregious in the senior circuit. Also mentioned was how the construction of these rosters never was nor never will be perfect, due in large part now to the starters being voted on by fans and the managerial staff possessing the pre-requisite rule requiring each team at least one representative. Undeserving players will make it and quite deserving ones will not. Such is life… or the all star game.
Today we will take a position by position look at the American League roster and, using WPA/LI, see how the fans, players and managers did. Did anyone named to the team not deserve to be there? Any deserving players left off? Of teams with just one representative, was the right player chosen? To get this party started, here are the players voted in and their WPA/LI rank at their position. Also be sure to note that the ranks are amongst only those who qualify for a leaderboard.
C: Joe Mauer (1)
1B: Kevin Youkilis (2)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (3)
SS: Derek Jeter (2)
3B: Alex Rodriguez (1)
OF: Josh Hamilton (2)
OF: Manny Ramirez (5)
OF: Ichiro Suzuki (out of top ten)
DH: Milton Bradley* (1)
*Bradley is replacing David Ortiz and actually leads all AL “outfielders” in context-neutral wins.
Looking at those voted in, the only odd pick (out of say the top three at that position) is Ichiro, but come on, he’s Ichiro. I honestly have no problem with fans wanting him in the game as a starter. Perhaps J.D. Drew should be there but if another Yankees or Red Sox player found himself in the starting lineup I would write a completely empty threat conveying my likely short-lived anger.
Here are the reserve position players and their WPA/LI rank at that position, looking at all players with at least 220 PA:
C: Dioner Navarro (2), Jason Varitek (out of top ten)
1B: Justin Morneau (3)
2B: Ian Kinsler (1)
SS: Michael Young (1), and the only AL SS with positive WPA/LI
3B: Carlos Guillen (2), Joe Crede (out of top ten)
OF: J.D. Drew (3)
OF: Grady Sizemore (4)
OF: Carlos Quentin (6)
Looking at the reserves we see the actual context-neutral leaders at 2B and SS, as well as the second place C and 3B. Of outfielders, including Bradley, the top six were chosen. Realistically, the only odd choices of these reserves, when discussing WPA/LI, are Varitek and Crede. Here are the pitchers and their ranks as either a starter or reliever:
SP: Cliff Lee (1)
SP: Roy Halladay (2)
SP: Justin Duchsherer (3)
SP: Ervin Santana (5)
SP: Joe Saunders (7)
SP: Scott Kazmir (12), Kaz doesn’t qualify but his 1.32 WPA/LI would fall 12th
RP: Joakim Soria (1)
RP: Mariano Rivera (2)
RP: Joe Nathan (3)
RP: Francisco Rodriguez (4)
RP: Jonathan Papelbon (5)
RP: George Sherrill (way out of top ten)
The relievers appear to be spot on with the exception of Sherrill, who was clearly chosen due to the Orioles needing a representative and his 27 saves ranking second in the league. The starting pitchers appear to be properly assembled as well, as Shaun Marcum, who ranks sixth, is injured and would not be able to participate anyways. Still, that leaves the fourth place context-neutral pitcher out of the mix in John Danks of the first place Chicago White Sox. Going position by position again, here are some notables that were left out, either ranking higher than those voted in/chosen or coming very close:
The most compelling cases to me are those of Roberts, Markakis, and Danks: the Orioles only have one representative and instead of the second best (WPA/LI speaking here) player manning the keystone corner it ended up being a closer whose results clearly benefit from the importance of the situations in which they were accrued. Since the top six outfielders were chosen, Markakis is the odd man out, but I just don’t see why Sherrill had to be their lone player. I won’t lose any sleep over Longoria either because even if he doesn’t get voted in on the final ballot, he will definitely be a multiple all star over the course of his career.
With this in mind, it seems the AL actually did a pretty good job assembling their roster. Some reserves should be starting and vice-versa, but relative to WPA/LI, remove Varitek and Sherrill and this team doesn’t exhibit many egregious errors in my eyes.