All Star Game

Only Mike Trout Can Hit Jacob deGrom

For the third time in his career, Jacob deGrom took the mound in an All Star Game. Tonight, he once again proved himself to be an All-Star among All-Stars.

He only needed seven pitches to get through the third inning. He’d strike out George Springer before getting DJ LeMahieu to ground out and Mike Trout to pop out. Getting Trout to pop out was a small measure of revenge with Trout homering off him last year.

So far, deGrom has faced 10 batters in the All Star Game, and he has struck out five of them. That’s right. In a game featuring the best of the best, deGrom still goes out and dominates.

Seeing his All Star Game appearances, the 2015 postseason, and last year, deGrom has established himself as the best of the best. Really, you could make the argument he’s the best out of anyone not named Mike Trout.

Of course, deGrom is not the only story. Pete Alonso won the Home Run Derby, made a slick pick at first base, and he would deliver a two RBI single against Brad Hand in the eighth.

By the way, between taking out Carlos Santana in the first round of the Home Run Derby, making the pick robbing Santana of a base hit, and getting the two RBI single off Hand, Alonso may want to stay out of Cleveland for a while.

Perhaps, the best moment of the night was Jeff McNeil entering the game and playing left field a year to the date when Mickey Callaway informed the press McNeil wasn’t getting called up because he was just a second baseman.

Overall, the NL lost to the AL 4-3. However, the Mets came out as winners tonight, especially deGrom.

All Star Game Still Fun

One of several mistakes Bud Selig made as Commissioner was trying to make the All Star Game “count.” This was a complete overreaction to a tie game in the 2002 All-Star Game held in Milwaukee when both teams ran out of pitchers. Instead of just acknowledging this was a one year fluke and maybe make provisions to add pitchers to the roster, Selig did what he did and tried to radically overhaul things. Fortunately, he is gone and so is the All-Star Game counting nonsense.

What remains is a game that is great on its own merits.

When you break it down, the All Star Game has always been about moments which have always arisen because you have the beset players in the game sharing the same field. It is Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run. It’s Pedro Martinez electrifying the home crowd striking out five. It’s Alex Rodriguez moving to third base to let Cal Ripken, Jr. playing shortstop in his final All-Star Game. For Mets fans, it’s Jacob deGrom striking out the side on 10 pitches:

In addition to the moments, it’s about seeing the young players on the stage for the first time. The 2015 All Star Game was his first one. In that moment, Mets fans got to see one of their aces measure himself against the best in the game, and he became a sensation. It also became a prelude to what deGrom would do in the NLDS.

This is similar to 2006 when David Wright was an All Star for the first time. He was a surprise second place in the Home Run Derby, and he followed that up with a home run in his first at-bat as an All-Star. As much as anything, the 2006 All Star Game launched Wright from Mets star to superstar.

This is what is in front of Pete Alonso. He beat Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. in one of the best Home Run Derbies ever. In that Home Run Derby, Alonso introduced himself to America. This is like Wright in 2006 and deGrom in 2015. He’s a fun personality who hits the ball harder than anyone.

If not him, maybe it is Jeff McNeil. He’s the type of player old school fans and more modern families love alike. You could see him playing all over the field today while slashing hits all over the place. If the National League needs a big hit late in the game, McNeil could be that guy.

That’s what makes the All Star Game great and fun every year. We get to see players like Alonso and McNeil introduce themselves to America. We get to see other fans see what we see everyday and appreciate how others appreciate them. We also have the satisfaction of knowing they are Mets. They can create the great moments we will be talking about for years to come.

Let Fans Pick Their Own All Star

In an effort to make the All Star voting more enticing and draw interest to the game, Major League Baseball has changed the voting for this year. Essentially up until June 21, the fans get to vote like they always did. After that, there will be a “Starters Election.” The Staters Election has the fans vote for the starters from the now reduced list over a 28 hour window.

This is a change for its own sake, and it gets it partially right (more on that in a moment). Really, if Major League Baseball wants to get fans interested in the game, let the fans pick their own All Star. In this instance, their own All Star means the player they want to represent their favorite team.

Take the Marlins for example. Are any of their players really All Star worthy? Maybe Brian Anderson who has a 1.8 WAR this season. The problem there is Anderson is 10th among NL third baseman in WAR meaning if he’s selected a worthy player is going to be left off in his stead.

Now, that’s the way it is and will always be so long as every team is represented. If this is going to continue to be a fan spectacle, you do want to see every team represented. After all, even a team like the Marlins, who draw worse than some Triple-A teams, has fans, and you want them to tune in to watch. You want to see Anderson, or whoever their representative is play in the game.

But if you’re going to want to entice the Marlins fans to watch, why not let them pick who they want to watch. For them, it could be Anderson, Miguel Rojas, Caleb Smith, or whomever else it might be. If you boil it down, if you are keeping a representative for every team to keep fans engaged, let them pick their representative.

By doing so, you not only keep them engaged, but you also prevent them from seeing a player they don’t want to see in the game. For example, Mets fans saw Bobby Bonilla as their lone All-Star in 1993 and 1995 despite the fans likely wanting to see players like Dwight Gooden, Rico Brogna, or John Franco in the game. Remember, if you are trying to entice fans, you should entice them with players they want to see play.

That includes being able to vote for pitchers. There are logistical issues with pitchers being available to pitch in the game. However, that should not prevent fans from having their favorite players on the roster even if they cannot participate in the game.

Remember that this would create a pool of just 15 players on a 34 man roster. That’s just seven additional players. Certainly, you could accommodate this by adding six more roster spots if deemed necessary. After all, September rosters are 40. If a manager can handle 40 players in September, there’s no reason he cannot handle that in an exhibition game where managers try go get everyone into the game.

Really, when looking at it that way, there’s no real reason why fans couldn’t or even shouldn’t pick their own team’s representative. Let the Marlins pick their one guy. Mets fans seem to want to push for Pete Alonso. Let them see him in the game. Let Yankees fans send CC Sabathia for one last All Star appearance before his possible Hall of Fame career ends. Again, let fans see who they want to see who they want.

You can do a results show on MLB Network announcing those players. You can then do another show announcing the pool of elected players. Then, you can do the Staters Election Major League Baseball has implemented. Only this time, fans are picking from the actual All-Stars. Then, you can hold the results until the game.

You get fans tuning in a little earlier to find out exactly who the starters are because they won’t know until player introductions. If all done properly, you get more interest because fans are seeing who they actually want to see, and you get more people tuning in earlier in order to see the results. Ultimately, this is the best way to handle every team represented and creating the highest possible level of fan interest in the game.

 

Trivia Friday: Mets Elected All Star Starters

While Ron Hunt might’ve been the first Mets player to start an All Star Game, he was not the first Mets player to be elected an All Star by the fan vote. That would not happen until 1971, one year after the fan vote was reinstated. In total, the Mets have had 12 players elected as All Star starters with none of them coming since 2013.

Can you name the Mets who have been elected All Star starters?  Good luck!


Bud Harrelson Willie Mays Dave Kingman Darryl Strawberry Keith Hernandez Gary Carter Howard Johnson Mike Piazza Carlos Beltran David Wright Paul Lo Duca Jose Reyes

The Mets are really pushing Pete Alonso for the All Star Game. You can understand why. He was a sensation in April, he’s threatening Darryl Strawberry‘s Mets and Mark McGwire‘s MLB record for homers by a rookie. On top of that, he’s a fun player who has quickly become a fan favorite.

The problem with pushing Alonso is he shouldn’t be an All Star first baseman. Trailing Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, and Josh Bell in WAR, and he’s tied with Anthony Rizzo. What may come as a shock is Alonso trails all but Muncy in wRC+.

Now, it’s not a travesty if Alonso makes it. In fact, he’s had a good enough season where his being named an All Star is more than merited. It would be good for him and baseball. Then again, there are more deserving candidates.

There are also more deserving Mets. Front and center is Michael Conforto.

Conforto is currently in the top six in WAR among outfielders meaning he should solidly be an All-Star. He’s also sixth in wRC+. Defensively, he’s just 16th in DRS, but that does qualify as fourth best among right fielders.

Overall, Conforto has been terrific this year, and looking at the numbers, he absolutely should be an All-Star. Considering his production and what he’s been for this team, there should be a push among fans and the team to elect him an All Star starter.

It’s not happening. Instead, the team is pushing Alonso and Jeff McNeil. As an aside, McNeil is very deserving as well. That said, neither McNeil nor Conforto are among the top nine. They should be. Perhaps, if the Mets and their fans cared to notice how good they’ve been they would be.

More Focus Should Be On Hader’s Growth And Where He Goes From Here

Up until some old tweets resurfaced, you would have to say the All-Star Game was going to be a smashing success for Major League Baseball.

Bryce Harper electrified the crowd and baseball winning the Home Run Derby.  After years of baseball’s most ardent fans begging him to become more marketable, Mike Trout would not only allow himself to be miked during the game, he would also do some shtick with the weather with Ken Rosenthal.

This really was about letting players be themselves and showing their personality on the field.  While it was a good game that went into extra innings, the highlight was really the interactions players on the field had with the booth including Francisco Lindor, Matt Kemp, Harper, and Trout.  It was seeing them have fun playing a game they and we love:

Speaking of those interactions, how great was it to see hear Harper refer to Trout as the best player in the game?

Well, it was about as great as it was awful to see some of Josh Hader‘s tweets from seven years ago.  Actually no, seeing those tweets were much worse than that.

There’s no need to republish those now deleted tweets here.  You can find them if you want.  Suffice it to say, they were racist and homophobic. Post-game, he was left searching for an explanation:

It was something that happened when I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. And that’s just what it is.

*     *     *     *     *

I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. And like I said, that doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs going on now.

*     *     *     *     *

When you’re a kid, you tweet what’s on your mind.

In some corners, his blaming it on his youth is probably going to go over about as well as the statements themselves.  Perhaps rightly so, there will be people who didn’t think or say those things when they were 17, and they are going to judge a 23 year old man about things he said as a 17 year old.

There is a real problem approaching it that way.

We don’t know Hader’s life experiences and influences when he was growing up in Millersville, Maryland.  We don’t know the beliefs of his family, his school, his friends, and the like.  Whether people want to admit it or not, what Hader said as a 17 year old is a true reflection of his upbringing and his area because someone or something made him believe it was alright to not just speak like that, but to also publish it on Twitter.

That’s not excusing anything he said.  No reasonable person will excuse it or take this to say Hader is blameless.  He’s not.

What is important was Hader was a young person who said some incredibly stupid things.  What is more important is Hader is a 23 year old man.  The hope in life is you have matured as you grow older.  As you mature and grow older, you should become wiser and more tolerant.

Put another way, you don’t expect a 23 year old man to think and say the things a 17 year old teenager would.

To that end, there should be more interest in how and why Hader has matured to the point where he now disavows those statements. In many ways, it is of more importance Hader said those statements don’t reflect who he is now or what his current beliefs are.  We should hear more about that transformation, and he has the exact platform he needs to do it.

Remember, baseball is a sport with its own racist past.  It is also one which did a brave thing and broke not just it’s own but professional sport’s color barrier with Jackie Robinson.  It’s now a sport which names its humanitarian award for Roberto Clemente, a Puerto Rican.

If a sport like baseball full of bigots could grow to become much more inclusive, then so can someone like Hader.

Given how the offensive statements were made right before he was drafted, it’s quite possible it was Hader’s experiences in baseball were those that made him mature and see how wrong he was.  Major League Baseball and Hader should be at the forefront in the coming days and weeks to explain how it was baseball and his interactions with people that led him to mature and become a better person.

Don’t hide behind anything.  The comments are public, and out in the open. There’s no more hiding.  Rather, own up to them, and explain to everyone why you are a better person.  More importantly, tell us how you became a better person.

Who knows?  Maybe there is a 17 year old out there right now who thinks the same way Hader did back in 2011.  Maybe, just maybe, Hader speaking out now will help reach that person and make them a better human being.  When that happens, we need to listen and be accepting of his being a better person.

Really, some good can come of this.  Hopefully, everyone will do their part to make sure that happens.

Brandon Nimmo Should Be Playing Tonight

Each and every year, there are a number of notable All Star snubs.  While some would argue it’s attributable to the every team represented rule, it’s really a function of how many good players there are in Major League Baseball.  Mostly, it’s a function of some really bad decisions by people who are supposed to know better.  For example, look at the players who were selected as outfielders for the National League:

Two things should be immediately noted: (1) none of these players were their team’s lone representative for the All Star Game; and (2) each one of these players were selected by either fan or player vote.

When looking over this list, immediately Blackmon jumps off the page as undeserving.  Harper is probably close to it, but with his track record, the game being played in D.C., and his being elected via the fan vote, you can certainly understand why he was an All Star this year.

What isn’t as understandable is why Brandon Nimmo isn’t an All Star.

At the close of the first half of the season, Nimmo is the National League leader in wRC+ (137) meaning he was the best offensive outfielder in the National League.

His 2.4 WAR puts him above everyone except Cain, Markakis, and Yelich.  Although it should be noted if we used fWAR instead of bWAR for the analysis, Nimmo would be ahead of Yelich.

More than that, Nimmo is a player from the largest market in the country who is an eminently marketable player.

Nimmo is a guy who is always hustling, and he does everything with a smile on his face.  No matter the score, Nimmo gives an honest effort on the field.  It’s a large reason why Mets fans adore him.  If he was exposed to a larger audience, other fanbases would get a chance so see him, appreciate him, and adore him as well.

And you know with how lazy national broadcasts are, they would go on and on about Nimmo whenever he entered the game.  There would be discussions about how he’s always smiling, he sprints around the bases on a walk or homer faster than most players do on a double, and his pointing to the heavens after a walk.  Again, marketing him is easy.

In the end, Nimmo and Mets fans lost out on his being an All Star snub.  Mostly, baseball missed out on a guy who is everything that is right about the sport.  They missed out on an opportunity to market a guy who has had a smile that has lit up the entire city of New York.

 

Early Review Of Possible Mets All Stars

The 2018 MLB All Star Game in Washington, D.C. is about a month and a half away, and All Star voting on the horizon, the Mets will look to send as many as four players to the Midseason Classic:

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Stats: .313/.352/.523, 15 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1.0 WAR
All-Star Appearnces: 2011, 2012

Cabrera jumped right out of the gate, and he quickly emerged as an early season MVP candidate. When the Mets have needed a big hit, by and large, it has come from Cabrera.

Among qualifying second baseman, Cabrera has the most doubles. He is also in the top five in hits, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, homers, and RBI.

Cabrera’s dip in May has weakened his attempt to become a third time All Star. It’s not going to be an easy path for him with some steep competition coming from Ozzie Albies, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez.

Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: .260/.408/.519, 4 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.2 WAR
All Star Appearances: None

Like Michael Conforto last year, one thing that may complicate Nimmo’s ability to become an All Star is whether or not he will appear on the ballot. While that may prevent him from being elected a starter, his play on the field may force his way onto the roster.

If Nimmo had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would lead all National League outfielders in OBP. His SLG would also be the fourth best in the National League, and quite impressively, his .927 OPS would be the second best behind just A.J. Pollock, who is also going to be out for about two months with a broken left thumb.

Ultimately, this may be too difficult a group to crack for Nimmo as he is battling bigger names like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, who are arguably having better seasons. There may also be a push for a player like Nick Markakis, a good player for a first place team, to make his first All Star appearance in his 13 year career.

Jeurys Familia, RHP
Stats: 2-2, 2.16 ERA, 14 SV, 1.040 WHIP, 11.2 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2016

Among closers, Familia leads the league in games finished, and he is third in saves and ERA. Another consideration, is for a Mets team who has expected a lot from their relievers, Familia ranks third among closers in innings pitched.

These numbers are easy to overlook for many Mets fans when you consider Familia has only converted 14 of 18 save opportunities, and they are still hung up on some postseason failures from the past.

As it pertains to Familia, those stats may no longer be sufficient. As time progresses, we all look less and less to saves as the true measure of a reliever’s worth. Certainly, the emerge of firemen like Josh Hader are going to complicate things for the selection of relievers for the National League bullpen.

Jacob deGrom, RHP
Stats: 4-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2015

Right now, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and he is a lock to represent the Mets in the All Star Game. If the game was not being played in Washington, you could make the case he should start the All Star Game. However, the presence of Max Scherzer will stand in the way of that happening.

What is interesting to note with deGrom is if he doesn’t step aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016, we would be talking about a pitcher who has been in All Star in three out of the last four seasons. That’s something we saw from Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. As this season continues to unfold, you can make the case deGrom deserves consideration of being grouped with those names. If not them, then at least in the conversation as the third best Mets starter of all-time.

In the end, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be joining deGrom. Up until recently, you could have made a case for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, but recent hiccups may be enough to prevent them from being All Stars in their own right. That said, another impressive run from them, or really anyone, could have them joining deGrom as Mets representatives this year.

 

Pretty Good Day For All Star Michael Conforto

Things got off to a pretty good start in the All Star Game when Michael Conforto actually had his name announced during player introductions. 

Things got better for him. He’d enter the game in the sixth. In his only chance in the game, he would make a nice leaping grab on an Avisail Garcia liner. He finally got to bat in the bottom of the seventh, and he singled against Roberto Osuna:

Conforto’s big moment came in the bottom of the ninth. With the game tied and runners at the corners, he faced off against Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, he struck out to end the inning. 

It was a good day for the Mets star, but unfortunately, it won’t be the moment we will be talking about for years to come. That moment will be Nelson Cruz taking his phone to the plate and having Yadier Molina take a picture of him with Home Plate Manager Joe West:

Molina then followed this moment by hitting an opposite field homer against Ervin Santana

Your MVP would be Robinson Cano. Cano’s 10th inning homer off Wade Davis was the difference in the game. On the bright side, the Mets weren’t the only New York team to lose an All Star second baseman. 

Former Mets: In addition to Conforto, there were more than a few ex-Mets on the field. 

Jason Vargas pitched one scoreless inning. 

Justin Turner was 0-1 in his lone at bat.  
Daniel Murphy, who was the National League’s starting 2B, was 1-2. The ball Murphy couldn’t quite get to led to the first run of the game. 

The American League’s sole run came when Miguel Sano blooped a single into a Bermuda Triangle of Nationals – Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman
Having pitched Sunday, Michael Fulmer did not appear in the game. 

Should Michael Conforto Be The Mets Lone All Star?

 

Considering how the season has progressed, and the ebbs and flows of the season, when the All Star rosters are announced, it should come as no surprise that the Mets will likely have just one representative on the National League roster. In some ways that is quite odd as the Mets do have some strong candidates to be a representative on the All Star Game roster.

The natural choice for the selection has long been Michael Conforto. Conforto jumped out of the gate to start the season, and for much of the season, he was the second best outfielder in the National League. However, he has slumped in the Month of June. His slump has coincided with a back issue, and now, he is on the Disabled List with a bone bruise on his hand. His numbers are still terrific with him hitting .285/.405/.548 with 14 homers and 41 RBI, but the struggles have opened the door for someone else to be considered.

The other Mets player that has been outstanding from the beginning has been Jerry Blevins. No one baseball has made more appearances than Blevins this year. In his 42 appearances, Blevins is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, and a 12.7 K/9. In what has mostly been a horrendous Mets bullpen, Terry Collins has been able to go to him time and again to get the big outs. With his stats, and the fact he’s done it more than any other reliever in all of baseball, he should naturally be an All Star. However, LOOGYs rarely make the roster leaving the door open for someone else.

Fellow bullpen arm, Addison Reed is having another outstanding season for the Mets. Bounced between set-up man and closer, Reed has done everything the Mets have asked him to do. Through it all, Reed has made 40 appearances, more than any other closer in baseball, and he is 0-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 14 saves, a 1.104 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. Few teams have as consistently dominating an arm in the bullpen, and Reed should be awarded with an All Star appearances.

Another outstanding and consistent arm that deserves to be an All Star is Jacob deGrom. For those of us that forget, deGrom was the story of the 2015 All Star Game, and he would have been an All Star last year if he did not step aside for his teammate Bartolo Colon. It’s time they now find time for him. Since working and figuring things out with John Smoltz, deGrom has been the most dominating pitcher in baseball. Over his past four starts, he is 4-0 with a complete game, 0.84 ERA, 0.719 WHIP, and an 8.7 K/9.

More than that, deGrom’s 125 strikeouts are fourth in the National League, and his 10.8 K/9 is the third best. What will likely hold him back is the poor May deGrom had. Overall, the ace is “just” 8-3 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9. That May will likely open the door for another Mets player to be named an All Star.

That brings us the second most likely selection in Jay Bruce. Right now, Bruce is on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season. The slugger is having a career year hitting .264/.335/.524 with 20 homers and 55 RBI. For what it is worth, those are better numbers than what Bruce put up last year when he was named an All Star.

Overall, with the Mets playing much better of late, the team has much more viable All Star candidates than initially presumed. And that is even before we discuss Curtis Granderson having been the best hitter in the National League in the Month of June and his outstanding stats since May 1st.

At the moment, it appears like Conforto is the likely nominee, and he is well deserving. However, he should be joined by one or two of his teammates on this roster.