2013 MLB All-Star Game: Jim Leyland Wrong For Starting Max Scherzer Over Chris Sale

By Matt Malecha
Jim Leyland
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official —Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer will start for the AL on Tuesday night in the MLB All-Star Game.

To many baseball fans, Scherzer would seem like the correct choice to start for the AL in the All-Star game. His 13-1 record is hard to overlook, and I understand that. However, a pitcher’s win-loss record can be very deceiving, and while Scherzer is deserving of a spot on the 2013 AL All-Star roster, he has no business being their starter.

Now, before I go on, it’s important we look at a two things.

First off, a key reason Scherzer ultimately got the nod to start for the AL is because of the man who made the decision — Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Obviously, Leyland wanted to give his own guy a chance to fulfill a dream, which is becoming a trend for the All-Star Game. In the past, we have seen plenty of All-Star managers favor their own team and although it might not be fair or the correct thing to do, it’s almost become customary.

Also worth noting about Scherzer is that his 13 wins definitely deserve some applause. A pitcher’s win-loss record doesn’t always tell the true story, but 13 wins before the break is still very impressive and I don’t want to sound like I’m completely disregarding them.

Okay. Now that I have acknowledged those two points and given Scherzer the respect he rightfully deserves, it’s time to discuss why he shouldn’t have been awarded the honor of starting the All-Star Game, and why Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale would have been a more deserving candidate.

Let’s first compare both Sale’s and Scherzer’s stat lines from the first half of the season.

Sale: 6-8, 2.85 ERA, 2 CG, 94 H, 42 R, 38 ER, 27 BB, 131 SO, .213 AVG, 1.01 WHIP
Scherzer: 13-1, 3.19 ERA, 0 CG, 96 H, 47 R, 46 ER, 31 BB, 152 SO, .206, 0.98 WHIP

When comparing Sale to Scherzer in these general statistics, Sale beats out Scherzer in six of the 10 categories (ERA, CG, H, R, ER, BB). However, like I said about Scherzer’s 13 wins, one can make an argument that even these numbers don’t exactly give you a clear view of just how good a pitcher has been.

Sale owns a 4.7 WAR while Scherzer’s WAR sits almost a full point lower at 3.8. Sale has a quality starts percentage of 82 percent, which is six percentage points higher than Scherzer’s 74.

Possibly the statistic that has helped Scherzer the most in 2013 is run support average per start. Scherzer gets an incredible AL-leading 5.89 runs of support in each turn. Sale, on the other hand, is supported by just 2.76 runs, the worst of any starter in the entire MLB.

When you factor in these numbers, there really isn’t much of an argument — Sale should have been named the AL starter for the All-Star Game.

Max Scherzer has been brilliant for Detroit and I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw two shutout innings tomorrow night in the 84th All-Star Game. However, due to the favoritism of Jim Leyland, Chris Sale was robbed of the opportunity to start on one of baseball’s biggest stages.

Thankfully, as these numbers indicate, Sale is an up-and-coming star in MLB, and this year will not be the only time he’s a candidate to start in the All-Star game. Lets just hope next time the hard-throwing lefty isn’t up against another homer of a manager.

Matt Malecha is a MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha and add him to your network on Google

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