Trust me, I was every bit as surprised at the Toronto Blue Jays placing four players on the American League roster for the 2013 All-Star Game as anyone. After all, we are talking about a last place team here, and yet Toronto is sending Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Cecil, and now Steve Delabar to New York to represent the American League.
However, while I was surprised, I was not snide about it, as Jon Heyman was last night, as seen in the tweet below.
sure glad to see 2 middle relievers from 1 last place team as all-stars. more deserving than beltre/longoria/donaldson.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 11, 2013
Yes Mr. Heyman, we realize the process is flawed and that some people are getting omitted, but the middle relievers are not really the problem here.
Heyman actually has solid ground to stand on in regards to who was omitted. Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Donaldson are all more than deserving of being on the squad, as their stats below show.
The three of those players ranks 4th, 10th, and 26th in baseball fWAR and 11th, 19th, and 22nd in wRC+ respectively. There is no doubting their merits to their teams or among the league leaders in general.
But the point isn’t should they be here, but who should they replace.
Heyman specifically calls out the Blue Jays relievers Cecil and Delabar, as if their selection(s) somehow kept one or all of these shunned stars off the roster. And that may be true to some capacity, as the American League is sending two more pitchers than the National League is, including five relief pitchers and three middle relievers (Cecil, Delabar, Crain).
However, if that is a point of contention, how many third baseman does the roster require?
The AL roster already has both Baltimore Orioles phenom Manny Machado and Detroit Tigers all-world Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera on it. Do we need to add Beltre for a possible pinch-hitting appearance or Donaldson and Longoria as a defensive replacement?
No, I imagine the inclusion of two extra middle relievers is for the fact that the starters selected are not expected to pitch more than an inning, if at all.
It’s all part of knowing the remaining part of the roster and knowing how it fits together. How else do you explain why Ben Zobrist was the lone selection from the Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore was later added as a substitute for Yu Darvish)? It was all about roster flexibility that Zobrist presented the team.
No Mr. Heyman, if you want to take exception, take it elsewhere with the roster than with the two Blue Jays relievers. Take it with Nelson Cruz roaming the outfield and Jhonny Peralta playing back-up at shortstop for an “All-Star” team while awaiting possible Biogenesis suspensions after the All-Star Game. Take it with the need for a third second baseman in Jason Kipnis despite a better option of Donaldson or Longoria.
If you really want to take exception with the Blue Jays, take it with the fans selecting Jose Bautista to start, or with the coaches picking the still worthy Edwin Encarnacion for the bench.
Take it with whatever player you want to. Just don’t take it with the two relievers who have worked their butts off to try and salvage what they can for this team and have made themselves into All-Stars in the process.