A baseball season is more than just a first half, and it would be nice if there was a way to recognize second-half performances in All-Star rosters.
For the most part, the All-Star roster construction process is just fine. Fans get to vote for the starting position players, and sure that could lead to some popularity contents rather than rewarding performance, but let the people see who they want to see. Players get their own votes, selecting a position player at each position plus eight pitchers for each league. This is a way for players to honor their peers, a perfectly fine way to reward a good season.
The commissioner’s office fills the rest of the 32-player rosters in each league, tasked with making sure every MLB team is represented by at least one All-Star. No matter which All-Star roster method one might devise, there will always be someone unhappy with the results.
I don’t have a problem with the selection process in any way. I just wish folks would take into account things that happened after last year’s All-Star break. If the annual rosters are selected based solely on the current year’s performance — this isn’t always the case; actual star power and accrued achievements are difficult to ignore in some cases — nearly half of the previous season gets ignored.
In looking at the 2019 All-Star rosters, here are a few suggestions to add players who missed the cut but have been strong not only this season but also in the second half of 2018.
Tommy Pham, Rays OF
Tampa Bay has been in the news lately for all the talk of the team exploring a bizarre timeshare with Montreal, but on the field the results have been even more compelling. The Rays are in first Wild Card position in the American League, and Pham has been either their best or second-best hitter (the other player in that consideration, Austin Meadows, did make the AL roster in the outfield). Pham entered Sunday hitting .284/.384/.468 with 13 home runs, with a perfectly respectable 132 wRC+.
But if you factor in Pham’s post-break performance in 2018, he’s hitting .304/.407/.514, with a 151 wRC+ that is tied for fifth in the AL break-to-break, ahead of AL All-Star outfielders Meadows and Whit Merrfield.
Luke Voit, Yankees 1B
Voit was an unheralded acquisition at last year’s trade deadline by New York, and all he has done since arriving in the Bronx is hit. Since the 2018 All-Star break Voit is hitting .296/.396/.565 with a 156 wRC+ that ranks third in the AL, along with 31 home runs in just 117 games. Voit also got hurt in Saturday’s game in London, putting his availability for the All-Star Game in question. At that point, any sort of honor would be ceremonial.
Max Muncy, Dodgers IF
The Dodgers signed Muncy to a minor league deal in 2017, and since getting called up to Los Angeles in late April 2018 all Muncy has done is produce at the plate at an elite level. Muncy this season has 20 home runs while hitting .280/381/.546 while playing first, second and third base, and told Madison Bumgarner to “go get it out of the ocean.” Muncy is 6th in the NL in WAR (3.2) this season, and since last All-Star break ranks 11th in the league with a 146 wRC+.
Muncy was hurt by being listed as a first baseman, where the Dodgers planned to play him most often this year. That position is super deep in the NL, with Freddie Freeman starting for the NL and joined on the roster by deserving first basemen Josh Bell and Pete Alonso. But Muncy has played nearly as many innings at second base (229) as first base (260), and has also mixed in 169 innings at third base, too. That versatility, with his offensive production, should be rewarded.
UPDATE: Muncy was added as an All-Star, replacing Anthony Rendon on the National League roster.
Justin Turner, Dodgers 3B
The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and lead the NL in team OPS+ (114) and wRC+ (112), both adjusted for park. But they have no position player reserves on the All-Star team to join Cody Bellinger, an outfield starter. Muncy has the better case based on this season alone, but Turner has the better overall track record, and is hitting .301/.386/.452, a 126 wRC+ in 2019. Dating back to last All-Star break, Turner’s 153 wRC+ is tied for fifth in the NL with Anthony Rendon, who deservedly made the midsummer classic this year, finally.
The Dodgers do have three starting pitchers heading to Cleveland — Hyun-jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw — and are tied with Milwaukee and Colorado for the most All-Stars on the NL team, so maybe don’t lunge for those pitchforks in LA just yet.
German Marquez, Rockies SP
Colorado’s 24-year-old right-hander has a 4.29 ERA this season that on the surface looks rather ordinary, and he leads the National League in earned runs and hits allowed, and wild pitches. But he’s also a victim of Coors Field, and adjusting his performance for park illuminates how good he has been. Marquez, who also leads the NL in innings pitched, has a 58 DRA- (adjusted Deserved Run Average, where 100 is average and the lower the better) that ranks sixth in the senior circuit.
Since the 2018 All-Star break, Marquez is 14-6 with a 3.54 ERA, a very good 72 ERA- (again, lower than 100 is above average), and ranks third in the NL with 5.9 WAR, trailing only Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
There will almost certainly be changes to the announced All-Star rosters, with some players bowing out with injuries and pitchers who might be unavailable due to the schedule. So there’s still time to get some of these second-half stalwarts into the midsummer classic, and reward them for their full year of performance.