MLB All-Star Game 2013: Snubbing Josh Donaldson


Jim Leyland didn't think the A's third baseman was worth an All-Star spot. What kind of injustice is this?

First off: Just say the word "snub" a few times. It's one of the best words our language has to offer. Snub. Short, silly, forceful. This is an article about snubs.

It's more of a cautionary tale, really. Because if you get riled up about snubs, you're liable to type or say some silly things. For instance:

Brennan Boesch: He is hitting .345 and has a .605 slugging percentage, and he's hitting .453 against lefties. He should be there.

That was something someone wrote three years ago. And that's not to pick on that specific writer -- it was a pretty common opinion. It was a perfectly acceptable and respectable opinion, even. Brennan Boesch, All-Star, was something of a thing in 2010, but he was denied the privilege. He was a rookie sensation. He was snubbed.

He hit .163/.237/.222 in the second half, and was released just a couple years later. Boesch would probably get snubbed if players were being chosen for an All-Role-Player Team.

Here's two from the same year:

Miguel Olivo, Rockies: There may be other snubbed players who are having better all-around seasons than Olivo, but none was better, relatively speaking, at his position. Olivo is leading all NL catchers in batting (.308), RBI (39) and OPS (.905), and he's tied for the lead with 11 homers.

Mike Pelfrey, Mets: He's one of only three NL pitchers with 10 victories. Of course, we all know that wins don't mean anything, right? That's what the stat people tell us. And his 2.93 ERA actually ranks 12th in the NL.

They were having great first halves. People were really arguing for Miguel Olivo to make an All-Star roster. People were upset that Mike Pelfrey was snubbed. Those arguments look like bad high-school haircuts now.

The annual tradition continues this year, as there are snubs and articles about snubs and discussions about snubs. Snubscussions. The biggest snubscussion in the American League concerns Josh Donaldson of the A's. The third baseman has almost certainly had one of the better first halves in the game, and it's absurd that fans are now forced to play dial-a-reliever instead of getting to vote for Donaldson (or Evan Longoria). But while I understand why A's fans are ticked he isn't on the roster (I would be too), this is exactly the kind of snub that I'd be scared to argue for.

Donaldson is 27. His career minor-league OPS is .834. To be fair, a lot of that came when he was wearing the tools of ignorance and beating his body up as a catcher. But I don't think it's overly cynical to suggest Donaldson is a major surprise. More importantly, here's a list of the players who made the reserves over him:

  • Jason Castro, C, Houston Astros
  • Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers
  • Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Prince Fielder, 1B, Detroit Tigers
  • Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals
  • Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit Tigers
  • Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
  • Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
  • Jhonny Peralta, SS, Detroit Tigers
  • Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City
  • Ben Zobrist 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

When it comes to individual seasons, it's pretty easy to find a way to get Donaldson on the roster. Prince Fielder is having a stunningly mediocre season by his standards, for one. Torii Hunter and Jhonny Peralta have been pretty okay, but if they're All-Stars this season, they're on the fringes. It's almost as if there's a common thread between those three that I'm missing ... it'll come to me.

But of all those names up there, which one would you expect to Donaldson to eclipse in terms of future production or established legacy? In 2015, I'm pretty convinced that Machado, Kipnis, and Perez will be better. In 2015, I'll guess that I'll think more about what Fielder, Zobrist, and Peralta accomplished over their careers than what Donaldson will do over his career to that point.

Or, the abridged version: While I don't expect Donaldson to be the Boesch, Olivo, or Pelfrey of 2013, I think he has a much better chance than anyone else on that list. So I'm reluctant to argue for him because I don't want someone to pick on me in three years. Well, that, and I've never believed that the All-Star Game should be filled with the players having good first halves. Not until baseball goes back to a second All-Star Game after the season, too. But mostly the part about people laughing at the idea.

A's fans would be right to suggest that I haven't watched Donaldson enough, that he really is this good now. That's fair enough. Encarnacion would have been the topic of a similar article two years ago, yet he's one of my counterpoints in this one. An argument against him in 2011 also would have aged like a yearbook picture. Sometimes stars are found in funny places, and we might be watching the ascent of Josh Donaldson.

In a few years, though, there's at least a decent chance that the idea of him being snubbed will be funny. I probably would have put him on the roster over someone from the Tigerpalooza. But I'll leave the outrage for the A's fans because I'm not sure what Donaldson is just yet.

For more on Donaldson's snub and the Oakland A's, please visit Athletics Nation
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