Though the Pittsburgh Pirates were limited to just the one required All-Star representative for 14 of the last 19 years, they should get multiple bids this season.
Closer Jason Grilli is an obvious selection. Grilli leads all of baseball relievers with 1.5 WAR already. With 14.51 K/9, a 1.01 ERA, and 22 saves, Grilli is having a phenomenal season and is an obvious All-Star selection. The real question, however, is if the Pirates will get another representative.
Early in the season, it looked as though OF Starling Marte would surely join Grilli. Marte had an exceptionally hot April, and his performance prompted many to speculate about his ceiling relative to teammate Andrew McCutchen.
Marte, however, cooled off significantly in May. His 20.6 percent strikeout rate and 4.7 percent walk rate have caught up with him, bringing him to a more reasonable but impressive .281/.350/.417 triple-slash line. Marte has 15 stolen bases and 36 runs scored, numbers which are actually moderately sustainable if he continues to reach base at such a high clip. Nonetheless, Marte’s frigid May will keep him out of the All-Star game.
McCutchen, however, is trending in the right direction. Ranking 22nd among all hitters in baseball with 2.1 WAR, McCutchen has gotten hot to push himself to a .284/.347/.450 slash line. McCutchen deserves to be in the All-Star game for more reasons than simply his two months’ worth of production.
As the Pirates are an emerging team, the casual fan is not as familiar with the team as they should be. Though the Pirates figure to be more publicized as they enjoy more sustained success, fans need to familiarize themselves with McCutchen.
A superstar and perennial MVP candidate, he deserves the benefit of the doubt to get into baseball’s biggest marketing event. Players like Hunter Pence, Gerardo Parra and Dexter Fowler rank next to McCutchen in WAR among NL outfielders, but it makes infinitely more sense to put McCutchen into the game.
Gabe Isaacson is a RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.