Leading up to the MLB All-Star Selection Show, I thought it was possible to make a legitimate case for several Pittsburgh Pirates players. Andrew McCutchen, Jason Grilli, Starling Marte, Russell Martin, Mark Melancon, Pedro Alvarez, Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano all could have made the National League All-Star team, and I don’t think there could have been strong arguments against any of them.
It turns out that McCutchen, Alvarez, Locke and Grilli were the only four Pirates to make it to the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in New York. While I thought more could make it, I do think the correct four Pirates were selected. Could Melancon, Liriano, Marte and Martin be considered All-Star Game “snubs”? I really don’t think so.
Melancon is the best setup man in baseball, but very few setup men ever make the All-Star game. Liriano has been outstanding since he came off the disabled list, but the fact that he was on the disabled list for over a month is the reason he was kept off the team. Marte is just playing a tough position to make the All-Star roster; there are so many candidates in the outfield. Martin, like Marte, is playing a tough position to be selected an All-Star, because Yadier Molina and Buster Posey of the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants respectively, will be selected every season.
McCutchen deserved to make the All-Star team because he is a superstar. He graces the cover of the “MLB 13 The Show” video game and he has put up a very good .298/.370/.467 slash line with nine home runs and 18 stolen bases. Locke has only lost one game, his first start of the season. His 2.12 ERA ranks second in MLB behind only Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Locke has been very lucky, with a high strand rate (84.2 percent) and low opponents BABIP (.233), he can’t be punished for it. Grilli has been by far the best closing pitcher this season, with only one blown save in 29 opportunities and a ridiculous 14.34 K/9. Alvarez leads all National League third baseman in home runs and RBIs, and his defense has improved immensely from 2012 to 2013.
While I would have liked to see more Pirates make the roster, I’m quite content with those four being the only ones. It’s nice to see Grilli make the All-Star team after all the adversity he has faced so far in his career. Hopefully Alvarez is able to participate in the Home Run Derby, because if he gets in, I would bet money that he wins it.