Oakland A only has one 2021 MLB All-Star spot? Amazing, but exactly what we’re used to
Fans have been criticized for decades for their All-Star Game selections, but it turns out the players and the Commissioner’s office are even worse.
The Oakland A’s are one of the best teams in the majors, a perennial contender having another solid winning season, but they only picked one of their players for the AL All-Star team. This is both blatantly ridiculous and exactly what A fans expect from a league that simply does not recognize the existence of our squad.
Oakland is not a successful competitor. They’ve been to the playoffs each of the past three years and last summer they won their division and then a playoff series. And right now, they have 11 of 0.500 games at 50-39, and if the season ended today, they would comfortably win the second Wild Card for a fourth straight playoff trip. It is objectively a good team.
Let’s see how the other good teams fared on the All-Star rosters. Reminder: reserves are no longer chosen by the manager of each league, but rather by vote of the players and the commissioner.
- Red Sox: 5 repetitions
- Astros: 4 repetitions
- White Sox: 3 repetitions
- Rays: 1 representative
Lots of room for cool teams, but not A’s or Rays. Maybe this article should really be about Tampa Bay, which reached the World Series last year and has an even better 2021 record than Oakland but still can’t get midsummer respect. It’s my shocked face that the A’s and the Rays are the two teams being ignored.
In the meantime, here’s how some .500 teams did it:
- Blue jays: 4 repetitions
- Yankees: 3 repetitions
- Angels: 3 repetitions
Even the last place Rangers had three reps, and none was a must-see superstar who had to be there on the basis of the sheer power of the name.
The A’s aren’t the only good team that have restricted themselves to one rep, but most clubs that receive this treatment do so because they have lost records and lack notable stars. None of this is the case here.
Theoretically, just having a good ranking record doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bunch of stars. It would be possible to win matches with a balanced group of non-names that fit together perfectly, as the Rays are particularly well known. But even still, it’s extremely difficult to be double-digit games above .500 halfway through and not have at least two worthy contenders. We are not talking about MVP here; you just need two warm months to cross the bar as an All-Star.
So yeah, I’m saying being a better team gives you a bump in consideration. This is how it works in other sports too. If there are a few candidates who all deserve a place, it would not be inappropriate to choose the one from the winning team over the one from the losing team.
But even if you don’t agree with that position and think the team’s record is irrelevant to the All-Stars, we could leave it out completely and easily continue to plead for more. by A.
Start with the starting pitchers. Whichever statistic you want to choose, Chris Bassitt and Sean manaea are two of the AL’s Top 10 starters, and neither has come out of nowhere. Bassitt finished eighth last year in the Cy Young vote and continues it with a new performance. Manaea got on the map with a hit in 2018, then got hurt but never got worse than good, and is now back to full force and fulfilling all of his previous promises.
These are not unexpected, out of nowhere, potential breakouts. Even Manaea, while improved from the recent past, has never been bad and only does what it’s always been meant to do. If you haven’t heard of these two or are shocked at their success, the problem is you’re not following baseball very closely.
So who did it instead?
- Nathan Eovaldi, BO
- Kyle Gibson, TEXAS
- Yusei Kikuchi, SEA
Eovaldi is having a good year! Almost as good as Bassitt’s. And while you might consider Eovaldi a star, that’s mainly because he has an expensive deal with Boston, and also because of some playoff exploits. He has never received a Cy Young vote and has never been an All-Star before. Bassitt is having a better season and has a better individual record recently, but Eovaldi is part of the coolest squad so he gets the spot.
Gibson had an ERA of less than 2.00 when he was chosen! And in seven seasons before this summer, he had been pretty good once, three years ago. His track record is that of a mediocre starter at best in MLB, and he’s part of a terrible team in 2021, but he fell into a brilliant ERA for a few months to secure the spot. And that ERA is already at 2.29 now, and will continue to increase at least a bit, as it was an obvious fluke even if it ends with a good year overall.
Kikuchi is the only representative of the Mariners! But he didn’t have to be. they could have chosen Mitch haniger on the positional player’s side, especially after a high-profile comeback from a major injury, or if they’re so in love with small-sample ERA, then closer Kendall graveman is at 0.99 right now. Instead, they chose Kikuchi, who was never good before the majors. He’s having a pretty good year so far, but not close to Bassitt or Manaea, and he started the season with a career 5.39 ERA. Why is he honored over the much better pitchers in Oakland?
And who could have gone to make room for a Mariners hitter like Haniger? Perhaps Jared walsh Angels, or Adolis garcia of the Rangers. They both have very good years! But they entered the season with a combined 87 career games in the majors. Why did their hot starts need more recognition than Oakland players who were already stars before April 2021 and who now continue to be stars in a contending squad? Or more than Haniger, a former All-Star himself?
Or to make room for Graveman? The Tigers’ only rep didn’t have to be a reliever Gregory Soto, it could have been a positional player like Jonathan schoop, or late payment to Jeimer candelario for his worthy 2020 All-Star, or exciting and popular rookie Akil Baddoo.
The point is, there are plenty of ways to install a second Athletic here. None of the other names we’re talking about are famous superstars or perennial locks, and almost none are on good teams. They’re just less proven, less famous players with equally good or slightly worse years for inferior teams. You know, the stars.
And what about the chopped liver known as A? Who was I stupid enough to believe he would finally get attention?
Bassitt is a competitor of Cy Young again, and Manaea literally just won the AL Launcher of the Month for June. Not good enough. Following!
Maybe closer Lou Trivino, the title reliever AL of the month? No, not good enough, need to find room to Aroldis Chapman every year because now long-term history is important (at least in the field). And another spot in the bullpen was burned down on the Tigers’ lone rep instead of picking one of their hitters (Trivino has a lower ERA and twice as many saves as Soto). Following!
What would you say Marc Canha? He has a 135 wRC + (higher than Garcia’s) and a higher fWAR than Garcia or Walsh, all for his third straight season at all-star level, although no one outside of Oakland will notice until the next winter when he will be a free agent and his departure foresee the imminent decline of the team. Following!
Seeker Sean Murphy collapsed last week but still leads all AL receivers in fWAR, although we won’t complain too much since Mike Zunino is also good (despite his average of .193) and is somewhat of the sole representative of the reigning LA champion Rays.
Instead, it will be the first baseman Matt Olson all alone in the AL team. Maybe a second player will be picked late to replace an injury, but at this point the message has already been sent. No matter how good A’s are or how long they’ve been established, they’ll always be an afterthought, only fitting in if there’s room at the last minute.
This is nothing new. The 2018 A has a representative Blake Treinen, until Jed lowrie slipped in later as an injury replacement, even though they were a solid 55-42 at the break. The following summer, after a playoff appearance and sporting a 51-41 record, they only got one in Matt Chapman, But Liam Hendriks ended up being a late addition. At the end of 2018, four A’s got MVP votes, and in 2019, three did, but no love in July.
It goes back further. The 2013 A’s, who won a division title and rank 56-39, had only one rep (Colon) but he missed the game so a teammate replaced him (Balfour). The A’s in 2006 went to the ALCS but had only one rep (Zito), and the following year it was one (Haren) again.
What about Moneyball A? In 2000 they got three, but in 2001 they reverted to one representative (Giambi). They won 102 games that year, and in 2002 they were 50-38 at the break and got two reps (Tejada and Zito) – and that was the least they could ask for, considering he These were the eventual MVP and Cy Young. winners. Eric Chavez never got a nod, despite receiving MVP votes in four consecutive seasons and winning six Gold Gloves, but hey in those years the AL needed space for superstars Shea hillenbrand (twice!), Tony batista, Melvin Mora, and Hank blalock (also twice!).
The only exception to all of this in the 21st century was 2014, when the A’s were handed over. six places in the AL team. To get that treatment, they had to complete two straight playoff trips, with an insane 59-36 MLB record and a running differential of more than 50 points above anyone else. That’s pretty much the requirement for them to get more than one rep and maybe a second place finish as a late injury replacement.
As always, none of this matters. It’s just a silly popularity contest for a meaningless exhibition match, and it’s not worth getting excited about, he said 1,700 words later. But it’s hard not to get annoyed with it, year after year, decade after decade, like a sink dripping noisily in the next room that you can never stop. And at some point, it’s hard not to get insulted – these players move on and make All-Star teams in other uniforms, the constant feature being that Oakland fans are always left out.
And the league wonders why they can’t get anyone excited about the A’s. Have you thought about maybe acknowledging the existence of the team every July as a starting point?