The Blue Jays will be well-represented at this year's All Star Game in Seattle. In fact with four players on the roster, they have the second-most invitees in the AL going to the Midsummer Classic.
Despite this, there is still some consternation about who won't be appearing for the Blue Jays at T-Mobile Park on July 11. More specifically, Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier is - statistically at least -- one of the best defensive outfielders in MLB history. And yet, he has never been selected for an All-Star Game.
Deserving of an All-Star appearance
The center fielder has once again missed out in 2023, and can consider himself extremely unfortunate. He was even in the running to be a starter, when Phase 2 of balloting for the All Star Game began.
Ultimately, the starting spots in the AL outfield were allocated to Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Randy Arozarena. And the reserve places went to Luis Robert Jr., Yordan Alvarez, Austin Hays and Adolis García.
We appreciate there are certain factors to consider, including every team needing to have at least one representative. In addition, the reality is that voting is often just a popularity contest, something which the Blue Jays themselves have benefited from over the years.
Regardless, something still feels wrong about Kiermaier missing out on finally experiencing an All-Star Game. He is having another excellent defensive season in the outfield.
Outstanding defence as usual
As per Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter, the 33-year-old reached the midway point of the regular season with a Major-League leading 18.1 UZR/150. He also tied first in Outs Above Average at +9.
For all the general inconsistency of the Blue Jays so far in 2023, one area where they have excelled is Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). As per The Fielding Bible, up to and including July 2 Toronto was ranked second in team DRS with a +41.
Kiermaier is undoubtedly a big part of the reason for this. Again up to and including July 2, he is first among all centre fielders at +13 and tied fourth overall among all players.
In addition, the three-time Gold Glove winner is as strong as ever with his fielding percentage. He has a .987 fielding percentage through 60 starts in centre fielder, which is marginally below his career .990 fielding percentage for the position.
Just as productive with his bat
Of course we appreciate that defence is not considered as 'sexy' as offence and pitching. In this respect though, Kiermaier has also had a fine season with his bat.
Further, the Fort Wayne, Indiana native was actually on course for easily the best offensive season of his Major League career at one point. As of the end of May, he had a slash line of .319/.365/.521 and a .886 OPS.
Since then however, Kiermaier has seen a big drop-off with his bat. He recently missed four games due to back spasms and it's entirely conceivable this has been compromising his ability to hit the ball more than anyone has let on.
Despite the major dip in effectiveness, the 2010 31st round draft pick is still overall having his best offensive season since 2017. Combined with his elite defence and leadership, he is everything a team could ask for.
A worthwhile gamble
On some level, the Blue Jays arguably took a gamble when they signed Kiermaier to a one-year, $9 million deal last December. He was recovering from season-ending hip surgery and there were no guarantees regarding what version of him they would get.
It's fair to say the gamble paid off though, and the former Tampa Bay Ray should receive plenty of offers, assuming the Blue Jays allow him to make it to free agency. However, while we're sure he'll be just fine, it doesn't excuse the travesty of him not making this year's All-Star Game.