On Thursday evening, MLB will be announcing this year’s MLB All Star Game selections.
Yet again, the A’s social media channels, along with Dallas Braden, Vince Cotroneo and Johnny Doskow during the A’s game broadcasts on NBC Sports California, have been encouraging fans to vote on which A’s player should go to next month’s All-Star Game in recent weeks.
The obvious choice
It’s clearly going to be Esteury Ruiz – he leads the league in stolen bases and is challenging the likes of Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles to be named Rookie of the Year at season’s end.
Moreover, Ruiz is leading all A’s in a number of hitting stats – in addition to stolen bases, he also has the most at-bats, the most hits, the most doubles and has the highest batting average among all A’s batters (.263).
While the on-field performances of the Athletics as a whole has not been great, other players have individually tried to make a case for being considered as the A’s All-Star representative.
Brent Rooker, for example, amassed nine home runs in the space of seven games at the start of the season before his production dipped as pitchers began to figure him out. It is testament to him that he has since adapted and settled into a role near the top of the Athletics’ batting order while accumulating reasonable hitting stats of 13 home runs, 32 walks, 38 RBIs, a batting average of .239 and an on-base percentage of .340.
Meanwhile, Ryan Noda is another rookie who has stood out for the A’s thus far this season. In particular, he leads the team with 52 walks (tied for fourth with Adley Rutschman of the Orioles among all qualified players) and an on-base percentage of .387, to go with eight home runs, 31 RBIs and a batting average of .236.
In fairness to last year’s All-Star selection from the A’s – Paul Blackburn – he probably would be in the conversation again if it wasn’t for the fact that he just returned to the mound from injury for the first time since last August at the start of this month (and promptly helped the A’s to a series win over the Braves), and so, has only played in six games thus far with an ERA of 3.77.
Otherwise, in terms of A’s pitchers, the other consideration would possibly be J.P. Sears. He leads all A’s pitchers in terms of both games started (15) and innings pitched (83.1) and thus far has a respectable ERA of 4.10.
Making a case for why someone could possibly be selected as an All-Star because they’ve posted respectable numbers is less than ideal though.
When you look around MLB, the A’s simply do not compare – at time of writing, Shohei Ohtani has the most home runs and the most RBIs among qualified players with 28 and 64 respectively, while former Oakland A Matt Olson, now of the Atlanta Braves, is second with 25 home runs and 60 RBIs (tied for third with Rafael Devers of the Red Sox), and Pete Alonso of the Mets fills out the top three with 24 home runs to go with 55 RBIs (tied for sixth with Ozzie Albies of the Braves and two former As in Jonah Heim and Marcus Semien, now both of the Rangers).
Meanwhile, Luis Arraez of the Marlins is chasing records and making headlines as he seeks to surpass a .400 batting average, currently tantalisingly close on .399 to lead all of MLB, along with an OBP of .450. Ronald Acuna of the Braves is then second with a batting average of .330 and an OBP of .404 (good for fourth on the OBP leaders list), to go with very respectable home run and RBI totals of 19 and 51 respectively. Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays is then third with a batting average on .323.
It’s the same when considering pitchers too; among qualified players, Shane McClanahan leads MLB with an ERA of 2.23 – good for 11 wins and one loss in 16 starts – while Bryce Elder of the Braves is second with an ERA of 2.44 from 15 starts, and Marcus Stroman of the Cubs, who we got to see pitch in the London Series this past weekend, is third with an ERA of 2.47 from 17 starts. To put the A’s pitchers into context, J.P. Sears’ ERA of 4.10 puts him 43rd on the list, tied with Taijuan Walker of the Phillies, among eligible pitchers.
Therefore, I have to repeat my point from last year; while I understand why at least one player from every team goes to the All-Star Game, it can diminish the cache of being an MLB All-Star in my opinion. Requiring at least one person from every team to go to the All-Star Game means that the All-Star teams are not necessarily filled with the best of the best – for example, Luis Arraez has an amazing batting average, but his game consists mainly of line drives and ground balls rather than the kind of spectacular home run shots that get the crowd on their feet. In fact, he only has three home runs thus far, and his RBI total of 38 ties him for 63rd on the RBI leader list.
In turn, this means that the spectacle of the All-Star Game can be greatly reduced, which defeats the object of a game that is meant to be a showpiece occasion filled with MLB’s leading attractions.
Featured Image – Terrence Williams/Associated Press
Brett is the Oakland A’s Team Contributor, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.