Wednesday, July 8, 2015


You got a second? Open up another tab or window, pull up your favorite search engine, and type baseball all-star snubs 2015. You'll get a lot of hits! Just from perusing the search results, here are some of the players whose absence from the All-Star Game (at this point--there's still the Final Vote and the inevitable late injury substitutions):

This isn't an exhaustive list. All I did was scroll through the first four pages of search results and pull names from the headlines. I didn't go into the many articles with lists of snubs. So there are undoubtedly more.

Now, Kershaw and Bogaerts could still make their respective teams via the Final Vote. But the other guys--yeah, the only way they're watching to All-Star Game is to score a ticket or tune into Fox next Tuesday.

My question is: How much of a snub is this, really?

I mean, there are guys who have money riding on this. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who's going to the game, gets $50,000 for appearing. So I could see him being disappointed--feeling snubbed seems a bit strong--if he hadn't been chosen. His teammate, second baseman Omar Infante, who isn't going, would've gotten a $250,000 bonus in each of 2016 and 2017. That's a big chunk of cash (his base salary is $7.75 million in 2016 and $8 million in 2017), but it's hard to call a guy who's got a .246 on base percentage (lowest in the majors among 164 batting title qualifiers) and .309 slugging percentage (fourth lowest) snubbed. So yeah, if I'm Dozier or Wong, and my contract pays me extra for going to the All-Star game, I'd probably be annoyed.

But most players? I wonder whether the fans and media mythologize the All-Star Game a bit. I would imagine a player's first All-Star Game is a thrill. You bring your parents, maybe your siblings, your wife or girlfriend, probably your kids. You rub shoulders with all the big names. You get this cool All-Star uniform that you throw into your duffel bag right after the game, not knowing that MLB would have washed and sent it to you anyway. You probably lift the All-Star insignia notepads and pens from the conference room. All that sort of thing.

Once you've done one, though...Take Andrew McCutchen. This'll be his fifth straight All-Star Game. Yes, it's nice to get the recognition and all, but from his point of view, twenty of his teammates get the full All-Star break, four days off next week to relax, hang out with their families, ice down sore muscles, catch the matinee of Terminator: Genisys, and go out for dinner at a reasonable hour, while he spends Monday and Tuesday on the field and with the press. For the fifth straight year Cutch's break will be abbreviated. 

Baseball players have a tough job. Yes, they're playing a game for a living, but they play it 6-7 days per week for six months. That's seven and half including spring training, eight and a half including the postseason. They put in long hours at the office, with most games not ending until after 10 PM, and if they get a day off, it's always a Monday or Thursday and never a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Plus they're living out of a suitcase, on the road, half the time. I know that some of you are going to say, "Big deal, they're paid tons of money to do that," to which I'd reply, "I know, but that's not the point." I'm betting most of you would accept $10 million to step into the ring with Floyd Mayweather, but that doesn't mean his punches wouldn't hurt. Playing baseball pretty much every day for half the year, even if you love the game, is grueling. Think about the last time you had a big project at work that had you coming in over the weekend, then think how much you were dragging by the end of the next week. Then imagine that for 26 weeks. The four days of downtime that Pirates Neil Walker, Francisco Liriano, Tony Watson, Pedro Alvarez and sixteen other teammates will get has got to seem great to them. So yes, you could make a case for Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli making his first All-Star team this year. Among NL catchers with 250 or more plate appearances, he's second in batting average, first in on base percentage, and third in slugging percentage. He also ranks second in Baseball Prospectus's measure for pitch framing, i.e. the ability to get umpires to call pitches on the outer edges of the strike zone strikes instead of balls. So going the All-Star Game would be pretty sweet. But given that we're in early July and he's already 30 games away from setting a career high in games played, at the toughest position on the diamond, I've got to think four days off will be pretty sweet too.

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