Mark Melancon doesn’t get much recognition around MLB, but he really should. Him and his Pittsburgh Pirates teammate Jason Grilli lead the National League in WAR among relief pitchers. Grilli made the All-Star team because he has the term “closer” beside his name, but “setup man” is much less sexy, so Melancon was left off.
Melancon probably knew he wouldn’t be joining fellow Pirates Andrew McCutchen, Grilli, Jeff Locke and Pedro Alvarez in New York for the All-Star game, but he should still be a little disappointed. His season has been outstanding. In 41.1 innings pitched, Melancon is 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA and two saves.
He doesn’t walk anyone — almost literally: his 0.87 BB/9 is amazing, as is his 0.22 HR/9. Among relievers, his 1.5 WAR is second behind only Grilli’s 1.7, leading to a dominant back-end of the Pirates bullpen.
The only three relievers, all closers, to make the NL All-Star team were Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds, Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves and Grilli. It would have been incredibly difficult to leave any of those hurlers off of the roster in favor of Melancon, no matter how good the setup man has been. Chapman has an incredible 15.17 K/9, even better than Grilli’s 14.34 K/9. Kimbrel has a 1.74 ERA and 23 saves to go along with his 13.21 K/9.
The All-Star game is far from perfect, beginning with the selection process. If MLB wants this game to be meaningful by making if decide home field advantage in the World Series, the best players need to be in the game, not the most recognizable players and the fan favorites. I know people say it is an exhibition game, but it seems like a very important “exhibition game” to me.