It seems every year the Indians have deserving players who are excluded from the American League All-Star team and this year is no exception. Michael Brantley has been announced as an extra outfielder for the team and barring any injuries and the final vote, could likely be the Indians only representative on this year’s squad. Of course, Corey Kluber could still be voted onto the team, but he is not even the most deserving of the final five on the ballot. After 17 straight seasons from 1940 through 1957 when the Indians had at least three All-Stars every year and 75 total there have been 22 years that the Indians have had just a single representative. Despite three straight seasons with two All-Stars from 2011 through 2013 the Indians have had just one star in seven of the past 13 years.
This year, the Indians had two obvious candidates in Brantley and Kluber, along with two outlying possibilities. There were twelve pitchers selected for the American League squad, eight of whom were starters. The question remains if these were the best pitchers in the league to this point. See the chart below, which lists each pitcher already selected, or in the final vote for, the All-Star Game.
Looking at the 15 pitchers above, it is hard to say that the top three pitchers in the league are not Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka, yet Sale only made it as far as final vote. Garret Richards has also been incredibly impressive with a 10-2 record on an under-performing team and a .196 BAA. If someone had to pick four players not to make the team, as four of these will not, the most obvious choices are David Price (the only Tampa Bay player selected) and Max Scherzer, who made the team outright. Others with comparably weak cases are Rick Porcello and Jon Lester, although Lester is the only representative from the Red Sox this year. Any way the list is seen however, Kluber is barely a snub, if at all and every pitcher considered is at least somewhat deserving. Of course, in the end, chances are all those listed will make the team as players are not allowed to pitch if they throw in the final game before the All-Star game.
The other two Indians partial snubs have even weaker cases, but they should be mentioned. There are only seven American League catchers who have qualified for the batting title and two of these have been named to the All-Star team. Included in the chart below are the top three qualifying catchers in addition to the other two catchers named to the team.
Here was one of the worst choices by the fans this year and though it did come from the East, it didn’t come from the Yankees or Red Sox, which is surprising. Matt Wieters was voted into the game despite playing just 26 games this year and being out for the season with injury. Instead of him, Salvadore Perez (unquestionably the best catcher in the AL over the past two seasons), Kurt Suzuki and Derek Norris were named to the team. Again we see an Indians player on the outside, both statistically and literally when considering the All-Star team. Gomes is obviously the next best candidate of those who were not placed on the team and likely his .270 average was the breaking point. Besides that, he is first in runs, second among AL catchers in home runs behind Mike Zunino, seventh in RBI (just five total back) and doubles.
In addition, Gomes is one of the best defensive catchers in the league, despite his stumbling start to 2014. He currently ranks third in SB% among catchers with at least 55 games played and while his ten errors are the most in the league, he also is leading in assists, put outs and double plays all by a wide margin. While it is hard to say that Gomes deserved to be considered ahead of Perez, Suzuki or Norris, he is far superior to Wieters and should be considered the fourth best AL catcher.
Speaking of players who made the All-Star team despite not having enough at bats to qualify for the batting title, the Indians had one more player who was a surprising snub. Currently, the top two players in average, Jose Altuve and Adrien Beltre, are on the team, but the man who would be third if not for being two at bats short of qualifying, is not. After being given most of the month of April off, Lonnie Chisenhall has been making up for lost time, batting .332 and currently sitting third among third basemen in doubles and sixth in RBI. Most impressive have been his rate stats, which will lead the all AL third baseman as soon as he makes up a couple more at bats (other than average, where he is two points behind Beltre).
Like the other positions, however, it is hard to say Chisenhall has been better than those who were selected. Josh Donaldson is an amazing defender, something Chisenhall can’t claim, and has knocked in a position high 63 and 19 home runs. Kyle Seager has not been quite as good as far as production goes, but has been better considering efficiency and definitely deserves recognition as one of few bright spots in the Mariners offense.
In all, the All-Star snubs all around were not too bad, considering the difficulty of making sure each team gets at least one representative. If anything the White Sox, with Sale and the Astros, with Keuchel and George Springer, have more reason to complain. The Athletics lead all teams with six representatives, but they are hard to deny as Oakland is unquestionably the best team in the AL right now. Of course, Indians fans can take some solace in the fact that a few teams that are normally over represented, the Red Sox and Angels, have just one player in the game this year.