The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently sending four players to the MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field for the first time since 1981. I made a case yesterday that the correct four Pirates were chosen, but I also said there were three or four guys with legitimate arguments for why they should have made it as well.
Now I will take a deeper look at each player one by one. First up is Russell Martin.
The main reason I can think of for Martin not making the All-Star roster is that the National League chose to only carry two catchers. If the NL is going to only carry two catchers, no one but Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals will ever get a chance to make the All-Star team.
Martin has been the third best catcher in the NL in 2013 in terms of Fangraphs’ WAR. However, he has been the best defensively, throwing out nearly 50 percent of runners attempting to steal second base. Offensively, Martin has been very good as well, with a .252/.353/.420 slash line and eight home runs, 32 RBIs and five stolen bases. His 11.3 percent walk rate is highest among catchers with enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboards.
Molina has been dealing with an injury as of late, so if he is unable to play in the All-Star game, it would seem very likely that Martin would replace him on the roster. It is hard to make a case for the Pirates’ catcher to be in the game, but it is also difficult to keep him out because he has been so good defensively. An argument truly could have been made either way, and that is what makes these debates so fun.