The 2014 MLB All-Star Game rosters have more than a few surprises. By choosing Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco over the San Francisco Giants‘ Buster Posey as the No. 3 backstop, NL skipper Mike Matheny solidified that this game is no longer a popularity contest. He knows his St. Louis Cardinals have a shot at the World Series, and Matheny wants home-field advantage.
Whether fans like it or not, the days of All-Star managers placing soon-to-be-retired fossils on the roster are toast. After the 2002 All-Star Game was cancelled in the 11th inning due to the teams running out of relief pitchers, commissioner Bud Selig decided to make the game “mean something.” Beginning in 2003, the league that won the game was to be awarded home-field advantage in the World Series. That forced managers to rethink their reserve players.
Posey would have been Matheny’s probable choice pre-2003, but those days are gone. With no more popularity points placing reserves on their respective teams, managers now look for the absolute most talented position players and pitchers.
Is Posey having a better season than Mesoraco? Not by a far cry. In 283 at-bats, Posey is slashing .286/.435/.776 with eight home runs. Those are fine stats and probably All-Star worthy if Mesoraco’s numbers were not so gaudy. In 179 at-bats, his slash reads .307/.631/1.003 with 14 jacks.
Due to a couple of early-season injuries Mesoraco is still 71 plate appearance shy of qualifying for any slash categories. Pre-2003, that alone would have given the Cincinnati catcher a three-day vacation. Managers never picked players who had missed significant time.
With the NL catcher fan vote going to the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and the No. 2 catcher being Jonathan Lucroy of the Milwaukee Brewers, Mesoraco will not likely see time behind the dish. He is batting.021 points higher than Posey and slugging better than .194 points. He averages one home run per every 12.8 at-bats while Posey averages one every 31.4 at-bats.
With the game tied in the ninth, who would you rather see pinch-hitting? Looks like Matheny knows that answer.