Posted 07/05/2011 at 04:27 PM
Andrew McCutchen is universally being pegged as the biggest snub on the National League roster. McCutchen is a compelling case and certainly would have been a nice story for the surprising Pirates but other NL players have a stronger case. Here is a look at the All Star snubs in the NL for next week’s showcase.
Shane Victorino, CF, Philadelphia Phillies: Many that point out the case for McCutchen use the logic that only one true center fielder was picked on the roster (Matt Kemp). I won’t argue that McCutchen deserves a look but Victorino has made an arguably greater impact at the position. Victorino leads McCutchen in batting average while striking out half as many times. The steals and scoring numbers are there for both players. McCutchen has slight edges in home runs and RBI but Victorino leads in slugging and OPS with nine triples playing a big role. If McCutchen is to be rewarded for the Pirates being a decent team for a change, Victorino deserves credit for being a catalyst on the team with the best record in baseball in a year where the other offensive stars on the team have mainly struggled or been injured.
Miguel Montero, C, Arizona Diamondbacks: The American League took three catchers even though there were not worthy candidates but the NL has taken just two even though Montero is very deserving. Arizona has been one of the surprise teams in baseball this season and Montero’s bat has been a steady force in the lineup all season long. No one can argue with Brian McCann being the clear choice to start but Yadier Molina gets in as the back-up merely on reputation as his offensive numbers are simply not closer to what Montero has done this season. Molina’s slim lead in average is countered by twice as many home runs from Montero as well as double-digit leads in RBI and runs. Montero has solid edges in OBP and OPS and he deserves some credit for the big improvements on the Arizona pitching staff.
Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta Braves: There have been many quality pitchers in the NL this season but Hanson’s exclusion from the All Star team is really puzzling. Hanson ranks fourth in the NL in ERA, fourth in wins, and eighth in strikeouts. Only two pitchers have a lower WHIP and opponents are hitting just .192 against him, best in the NL. He blows away the numbers that fellow right-handers Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong have offered as the trio for the Giants seems to be getting a World Series champion bump (Vogelsong by association). Obviously that is the right of Bruce Bochy who picked the team but with closer Brian Wilson also being selected questionably over Craig Kimbrel, Braves fans have a right to be upset with the west coast bias.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs: The All Star game certainly has a place for taking past stars and future hall of fame type players even as their star is fading. Chipper Jones falls into that category and will be a more compelling story on the roster but Ramirez has blown away his numbers this season. Ramirez has big edges in all the key categories: Batting average .295 vs. .256, HR 12 vs. 7, R 37 vs. 31. Both are tied at 44 RBI but Ramirez even with his dismal walk numbers beats Jones in OPS by a wide margin. Atlanta has one of the best records in the NL so Jones deserves a little extra credit but purely on statistics Ramirez has better offensive numbers than Jones or voted in starter Placido Polanco.
Todd Helton, 1B, Colorado Rockies: If Jones gets in on his past great years and reputation it seems that Helton should get a similar bump. Helton is quietly having a great year with a .319 batting average and while his power numbers are not what they once were, he has capable statistics while playing far fewer games than most of the other regular first basemen in the discussion. Helton has a far better OPS than Gaby Sanchez, who was taken as the third first baseman. While he was thought to be injured Albert Pujols can make a solid argument along the same lines as his numbers are good enough to be considered and he certainly is one of the games biggest stars.
Michael Bourn, CF, Houston Astros: Victorino and McCutchen probably have stronger cases than Bourn but the Houston outfielder leads baseball by a wide margin in stolen bases with 35 while getting caught just four times. Bourn is hitting .290 so he has been on base enough to make a big impact even though the Astros are a struggling club. Teammate Hunter Pence was selected as the representative for the Astros and he deserves the spot with a NL outfield leading .325 batting average but Pence has struck out 72 times while walking just 22 times and is not bringing a lot to the table in terms of extra base hits. It is a close call but if the NL was truly looking to win a game, having a speedster like Bourn would be more useful in a late inning pinch running role than another outfielder like Pence whose skill set is matched by many of the other players on the roster.