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The best pitcher Major League Baseball's never heard of

Jamie Squire

I'm not going to review both of the All-Star rosters today. It just seems sort of silly, considering how unseriously Major League Baseball takes the whole process, and how many of the supposedly snubbed players will wind up in New York next week anyway, thanks to the sudden rash of injuries that's sure to break out next weekend.

I do want to take just a moment, though, to discuss the Final Vote ballots in each league.

First, I'm not wild about the idea. It's not like the fans don't already have their say. They get to name the starters, injuries notwithstanding, and they don't do a brilliant job of that. But the Final Vote does create some drama, and the fans have generally chosen deserving All-Stars. Here's the skinny on this year's National League ballot:

Fittingly, Puig's All-Star fate will be decided by the fans this week, during the frenetic race to the finish also known as the Final Vote.

Puig is one of five National League players eligible for the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by, where fans select the final two spots on the All-Star team, one in the National League, the other in the American League.

Joining Puig in the NL competition are Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence.

Look, I think Yasiel Puig has been around long enough that if he's one of the best players in the National League, he's not miscast as an All-Star. Those other guys aren't real exciting, but at least you've got a few interesting players in there, from a variety of positions. It's not the list of five candidates I would have chosen, but you sort of sink your teeth into those guys and do a bit of chewing.

And then there's the American League ballot.

right-handed relief pitcher Steve Delabar
right-handed relief pitcher David Robertson
right-handed relief pitcher Koji Uehara
right-handed relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers
right-handed relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit

Yes, that's right folks: It's the All-Star Game, and your only choice is a relatively anonymous relief pitcher with fewer than seven saves. Budding star Matt Moore? Nope, sorry. Superstar third baseman Evan Longoria? Nope. Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre? Nope. Derek Holland? Nope. It must be The Hell with the Rangers Week this week.

You know what really twists my gizzard, though? Five right-handed relief pitchers on the ballot, and THERE WASN'T ROOM FOR THIS GUY:

1.91 Earned-Run Average
20 saves (in 22 opportunities)
15 strikeouts per nine innings

That's Kansas City closer Greg Holland, and he's hardly some sort of half-season fluke. Among the 57 relief pitchers with at least 150 major-league innings since Opening Day 2011, Holland's 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings ranks fifth ... and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is third-best among those guys. I'm not saying he's Mariano Rivera or anything, but he's been pitching like a star for the better part of three seasons. Which nobody except Royals fans and diehard fantasy players know. And now they're not going to know, because somebody at Major League Baseball left Holland off a ballot that includes Steve Delabar (who's having a great season too).

But what's got me twisted up isn't that Greg Holland is not on the ballot. It's that so many other comparable or lesser right-handed relief pitchers are. It's like somebody at Major League Baseball had three hours to come up with the names, but lost track of time and didn't add Hunter Pence until there were only five minutes left in the three hours. Quick! Give me a list of relief pitchers ranked by ERA! And make sure there's a Red Sox guy and a Yankees guy on there! Umm ... yeah, that's good. Now let's hope nobody's paying attention ...

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