Here’s my annual Nationals All Star representative post. As with 2012 and 2011‘s post, I’m including a retrospective on our “illustrious” All Star representative history from years past. If you read on and it sounds familiar, that’s because a lot of it is cut-n-pasted from the annual version of this post. Even so, reading backwards to see who our All-star representatives were in the lean years is an interesting exercise.
Here’s a link to the All Star Rosters for 2013.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann
- Snubs: Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond
- Narrative: Harper comes in 3rd in the NL outfielder voting, ahead of some big-time names, to become only the second Nationals position player elected as an All-Star starter. He was 4th in the final pre-selection vote, so a big last minute push got him the starter spot. Harper also becomes the first National to participate in the Home Run Derby. Zimmermann is 12-3 heading into the game and is on mid-season Cy Young short lists right now and is a very deserving pick. Strasburg’s advanced stats are all better than Zimmermann’s, but his W/L record (4-6 as of this writing) means he’s not an all-star. It also probably doesn’t help that he missed a few weeks. Desmond loses out to Troy Tulowitzki, Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura. Tulowitzki is having a very solid year and is a deserving elected starter (though he’s currently on the DL and I wonder if Desmond may still make it as an injury replacement), while Cabrera and Segura are both having breakout seasons. Desmond is on the “Final vote” roster, but my vote (and most others’ I’m guessing) would be for Yasiel Puig there ([Editor Update: Desmond and Puig lost out to Freddie Freeman: I still hope Puig finds a way onto the roster). Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman,and Rafael Soriano are all having solid but unspectacular years and miss out behind those having great seasons.
Trivia: With his 2013 selection, Harper has been selected as an all-star in every season in which he has appeared in a game. As far as I can tell in baseball history, there’s only TWO other players in Major League History who can say this. Name them (discuss in comments).
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper
- Possible Snubs: Adam LaRoche, Craig Stammen
- Narrative: The two starters Strasburg and Gonzalez were the obvious candidates, and my personal prediction was that they’d be the only two candidates selected. Gonzalez’ first half was a prelude to his 21-win, 3rd place Cy Young season. The inclusion of Desmond is a surprise, but also a testament to how far he’s come as a player in 2012. Harper was a last-minute injury replacement, but had earned his spot by virtue of his fast start as one of the youngest players in the league. Of the “snubs,” LaRoche has had a fantastic come back season in 2012 but fared little shot against better, more well-known NL first basemen. Stammen was our best bullpen arm, but like LaRoche fared little chance of getting selected during a year when the Nats had two deserving starters.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Tyler Clippard
- Possible Snubs: Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse, Drew Storen, Jordan Zimmermann
- Narrative: While Clippard was (arguably) the Nats best and most important reliever, I think Zimmermann was a more rightful choice. He was 10th in the league in ERA at the time of the selections and has put in a series of dominant performances. Meanwhile Espinosa is on pace for a 28homer season and almost a certain Rookie-of-the-Year award (though a precipitous fall-off in the 2nd half cost him any realistic shot at the ROY), and perhaps both players are just too young to be known around the league. Lastly Morse is certainly known and he merited a spot in the “last man in” vote sponsored by MLB (though he fared little chance against popular players in this last-man-in voting).
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Matt Capps
- Possible Snubs: Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Ryan Zimmerman, Steven Strasburg
- Narrative: Capps was clearly deserving, having a breakout season as a closer after his off-season non-tender from the Pirates. The 3-4-5 hitters Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham all had dominant offensive seasons as the team improved markedly from its 103-loss season. But perhaps the surprise non-inclusion was Strasburg, who despite only having a few starts as of the all-star break was already the talk of baseball. I think MLB missed a great PR opportunity to name him to the team to give him the exposure that the rest of the national media expected. But in the end, Capps was a deserving candidate and I can’t argue that our hitters did anything special enough to merit inclusion.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Ryan Zimmerman
- Possible Snubs: Adam Dunn
- Narrative: The addition of Dunn and Willingham to the lineup gave Zimmerman the protection he never had, and he produced with his career-best season. His first and deserved all-star appearance en-route to a 33 homer season. Dunn continued his monster homer totals with little all-star recognition.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Cristian Guzman
- Possible Snubs: Jon Rauch
- Narrative: The first of two “hitting rock-bottom” seasons for the team; no one really merited selection. Zimmerman was coming off of hamate-bone surgery in November 2007 and the team was more or less awful across the board. Rauch performed ably after Cordero went down with season-ending (and basically career-ending) shoulder surgery. Guzman’s selection a great example of why one-per-team rules don’t make any sense. Guzman ended up playing far longer than he deserved in the game itself by virtue of the 15-inning affair.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Dmitri Young
- Possible Snubs: Ryan Zimmerman, Shawn Hill (though I wouldn’t argue for either)
- Narrative: Young gets a deserved all-star appearance en route to comeback player of the year. Zimmerman played a full season but didn’t dominate. Our rotation featured 6 primary starters, none of whom are still in the league now, though Hill showed flashes of dominance throughout the year.
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Alfonso Soriano
- Possible Snubs: Nick Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman
- Narrative: Soriano made the team as an elected starter, the first time the Nats have had such an honor. Our pitching staff took massive steps backwards and no starter came even close to meriting a spot. Cordero was good but not lights out as he had been in 2005. Soriano’s 40-40 season is a poster child for “contract year” production and he has failed to come close to such production since. The team was poor and getting worse. Johnson had a career year but got overshadowed by bigger, better first basemen in the league (a recurring theme for our first basemen over the years).
- Nationals All-Star representatives: Livan Hernandez, Chad Cordero
- Possible Snubs: Nick Johnson, John Patterson.
- Narrative: The Nats went into the All Star break surprisingly in first place, having run to a 50-31 record by the halfway point. Should a first place team have gotten more than just two representatives? Perhaps. But the team was filled with non-stars and played far over its head to go 50-31 (as evidenced by the reverse 31-50 record the rest of the way).