Every year, the MLB All-Star teams produce the kind of results you expect when you try to make a dish while using four recipes at the same time. There's the popularity-driven fan selections, the surprisingly afflicted-by-media-narratives player's vote, possibly biased manager's selections, a final vote that tests which fanbase has the best combination of wi-fi speed and free time, and then the frantic substitution of ingredients that comes when players decide en masse that they would much prefer four uninterrupted days off, all things considered.
And then we count up All-Star appearances like merit badges while considering Hall of Fame candidacies. It's beautiful.
So, Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez made the AL All-Star Game. Good for them. That is nice. Hope they have a good time.
Abreu is the third best hitter of the AL 1B/DH crop by wRC+ (his is a beefy 151). Behind Miguel Cabrera's reputation selection and Edwin Encarnacion and an absolutely on fire Victor Martinez, there's plenty of room for Abreu, who attracts plenty of popular attention by subsisting entirely on home runs. Again, good for him, though I wonder if he gets to bring Moises Sierra with him as his personal assistant.
There also still the issue of whether or not Abreu will participate in the Home Run Derby. Selfishly, as someone who misses the days of White Sox players smacking 500-foot home runs in front of large audiences, but am also in favor of the man doing whatever the hell he wants. He might be coming out of his shell, though, I mean, he did a shuffle dance in the dugout after a home run the other day. There's a showman deep down there somewhere.
Alexei Ramirez is also Minnesota-bound, thanks to the American League shortstop crop falling back to his level. Ramirez is basically having his 2010 and 2011 seasons but with older legs and range, and Erick Aybar and Alcides Escobar are outhitting him and are solid defenders in their own right.
Ramirez seems to be profiting off either some league-wide appreciation of his reliably solid play, or flip-flopping the order of his super-hot and ice-cold months for once. Right now he is ice cold, when people were deciding who they were going to put in this game, he was the hottest. Miss those days.
Suffering the indignity of the Final Vote, is Chris Sale, who was left out of the AL supply of starting pitchers in favor of Mark Buehrle and Scott Kazmir's dips in the rejuvenation pool. Undoubtedly, a major factor in Sale's exclusion is his lower innings count due to his DL stint, because this is the point in the process where we suddenly decide to be really persnickety about numbers.
There's plenty to say about the way position players are selected for these teams, but at least there seems to be a vested interest in giving the fans what they want. For pitchers, this need to reward short relievers with shiny numbers gives us fun hijinks like Matt Thornton in the All-Star Game, but also creates situations where some of the most talented pitchers in the sport are getting squeezed out because they only threw 87 innings, in favor of guys who have thrown less than 40. Sean Doolittle is a marvel, Greg Holland is a dream-killer and Dellin Betances is a monster, but these guys are all relievers, and relievers for a reason.
Sale will either win the Final Vote or be one of the 19,000 late substitutions, so it's immaterial. As is all.
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