Cleveland Indians’ Ace Snubbed from All-Star Game
It’s that time of year again. The “All-Star” Game rosters have been announced, and many notable players have been left off the lists. As always, the pitching choices are confusing to the more statistically inclined fans. This year, however, the pitching choices are not just confusing to the statistically inclined fans, but also fans in general.
Corey Kluber is not an All-Star. Again.
That’s right, the reigning Cy Young Award winner – who has the second highest fWAR total in the league – has been left off the All-Star Game roster. Sure, it’s hard at times to pick 13 pitchers from a pool of nearly 200 pitchers, but this is what makes the game allegedly all stars. This roughly 6% acceptance-rate essentially pulls the Ivy League pitchers from the rest of the pitching population.
But each and every year, we have this same situation arise: non-star pitchers make the All-Star Game roster. I love to play a game in which I pick a few stats from pitchers to prove that someone who deserves to be an All-Star is not. This is my favorite writing activity of the year; so without further ado, let’s begin our adventure.
Below is a table consisting of three players: two All-Stars and one snub. Try to guess which of the following is not an All-Star:
I’ll give you a hint: it’s Corey Kluber. So which player is Corey Kluber? He’s Player A. That’s right, the best player from my sample is not an All-Star. Player B is Sonny Gray, and Player C is Felix Hernandez.
Despite the fact that each team must send at least one representative to the All-Star game, neither Felix Hernandez nor Sonny Gray have to be All-Stars. Mariners’ designated hitter Nelson Cruz and Athletics’ catcher Stephen Vogt are both on the roster. And even though he is a very well-known player, King Felix does not deserve the All-Star spot as much as Corey Kluber. Some may point out that they are both Cy Young Award recipients and clearly stars, but Kluber won his hardware last season
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Perhaps it’s unfair to pick on Sonny Gray, who is having a great season, but the fact remains that Kluber’s high ERA and low win totals may have disqualified him from the event in the eyes of traditional thinkers picking the roster. Kluber’s BABIP of .341 has contributed to an ERA of 3.64, the 22nd best in the league. Even further, his 3-7 record will surely dissuade a traditionally old-school thinking award from being awarded to him. Presumably, his 141 strikeouts, good enough for 3rd best in the AL, and 1.14 WHIP cannot bridge the gap between fantastic peripherals and mediocre, old-school statistics.
With all this said, Kluber must have been better than one of the seven relievers – none of whom being the Cleveland Indians’ own Cody Allen – selected. Darren O’Day and Kelvin Herrera seem like odd selections given that both teams already have their closer on the roster and are exempt from the one-per-team rule. On further investigation, however, Darren O’Day seems to justify his selection with a 1.10 ERA and 5.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Let’s breakdown Kluber and Herrera’s statistics to try and see if one is more deserving than the other.
I adjusted the players’ fWAR for every 50 innings pitcher since it would put them both on the same scale. Otherwise, Kluber would be at a major advantage to Herrera. Each statistic seems to favor Kluber, and Herrera is really only extremely better than Kluber in ERA and left-on-base percentage.
Now we come back to the biggest rift in baseball: the rift between old-school and new-school thinking. Personally, I am a new-school, sabermetrics fan, and I would take Kluber over Herrera any day of the week. Other old-school thinkers, however, would look at Kluber’s win totals and ERA and deem him unworthy of the game.
So let’s throw all baseball statistics and reason to the wind. Corey Kluber has more Twitter followers than Kelvin Herrera, and he has won more Cy Young Awards. Therefore, the Klubot packs more star-power than Herrera and should be an All-Star.