The leadoff article in today’s Seattle Times sports section is about the All-Star game. Felix Hernandez and Brandon League made the team and Michael Pineda and Ichiro did not; were they snubbed?
First off, I’ll tackle the easy one. Brandon League deserves to be there. He has 22 saves leading the AL. This is one more than Mariano Rivera who leads this category every year. So suit up Leaguer and enjoy yourself, except he might not because his wife is due to give birth any day now. Second, Hernandez made it for a second year in a row. True, he has the third most strikeouts in the AL with 124, but I think most of his votes are holdovers from his Cy Young winning effort last season. He has a 3.35 ERA right now which is astronomical for him and puts him 22nd in the AL and fourth on his own team behind Pineda, Bedard, and Fister. He is not as dominant as he was last year, but I think the strikeout count is enough to earn him a legitimate spot on the team.
Now for the snubs. Ichiro was not snubbed (and this is coming from a guy whose fantasy baseball teams are both named Honey Nut Ichiros). He clearly does not deserve a spot on this team; AL All-Star manager Ron Washington noticeably didn’t add him as a reserve either. His batting average is hovering around. 270, he is 10th in the league in hits, and tied for fourth in stolen bases. His RBI count is also a miserly 21 but as the leadoff man he isn’t expected to kill that category. Ichiro is not playing the same caliber of baseball he has played the last 10 years. Good on the voters for not voting him in as they did to Derek Jeter who deserves a spot even less than Ichiro does.
Michael Pineda. He is tied for 12th in strikeouts with 99 which is impressive for a rookie, but does not automatically guarantee you a spot. Helping his case is a low 2.65 ERA which is better than both David Price and C.J. Wilson who both made the team. His strikeout count only supersedes Josh Beckett’s. I don’t count wins as an All-Star arbiter. That category does not reflect the pitcher, but the offense behind him, just ask Doug Fister. So was Michael Pineda snubbed? Not really. There is a case to be made for him and one against. He could have easily been picked over C.J. Wilson and David Price, but they have better numbers than him in some categories. So, keep it up Michael and you’ll see action next year.