The rosters for July 16's All-Star game at Citi Field were unveiled to the public Saturday evening on Fox, and already fans from coast-to-coast are abuzz with excitement and in some cases displeasure over the selections. You better believe we’ll be weighing in with our own thoughts over the next 10 days, and we may even throw in a challenge for the readers. For now though, here are just a few of our early thoughts on the rosters Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy will be managing in New York.
(A more complete list of the rosters can be found here. Note: Rosters are subject to change... frequently.)
Yasiel Puig included in Final Vote: The most debated potential All-Star coming into the selection show, Yasiel Puig was not named by Bruce Bochy or voted by the National League players as one of the first 34 All-Stars. He will, however, appear on (and very likely win) the Final Vote for the National League. Why do I feel so confident about that?
Yasiel Puig highest number of write-in votes during 2013 All-Star ballot (842,915). Most write-in votes since Freddy Sanchez 856,685 in 06
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) July 6, 2013
He'll be joined on the ballot by Ian Desmond (Washington Nationals), Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves) and teammate Adrian Gonzalez.
Personally, I wasn’t on board with the idea of Puig being an All-Star two weeks ago. It just felt too soon to make the argument, but his play has been historic. In just 30 games, the 22-year-old outfielder has collected 50 base hits. Only Joe DiMaggio and Roy Weatherly join him in that elite company. He was also named the National League Player of the Month for June, which is the same month he debuted. That’s a remarkable accomplishment, and even if you throw the numbers aside, his aggressive style of play and boundless energy make him a much needed attraction for the game. I’m all in.
The only question now is which candidate will Jonathan Papelbon stuff the ballot box for to help Puig off the team.
Make room for Matt Harvey: As long as New York Mets manager Terry Collins moves Matt Harvey’s start scheduled for next Sunday, the 24-year-old right-hander will get the call to start the All-Star game in front of his home fans. National League manager Bruce Bochy has made that very clear over the past week, so it's a done deal with Collins' cooperation. Harvey's selection wouldn't be a goodwill gesture, either. Through 18 starts (7-2, 2.17 ERA) he has been the most consistently dominant starter in the NL. His introduction will be one of the many highlights of the night.
American League starting pitcher candidates: Detroit Tigers right-handed Max Scherzer is off to a historical 13-0 start, and with Jim Leyland calling the shots for the AL, he seems to be the most likely selection. That said, I think a case can also be made for Felix Hernandez because, well, he's Felix Hernandez, and his 8-4 record with a 2.69 ERA aren't too shabby either.
Three Orioles land in AL lineup: Chris Davis — who connected for his MLB leading 33rd home run on Saturday — not only slugged his way into an All-Star appearance, he was the leading vote-getter for American League players. Much deserved, I might add. He'll be joined in the lineup by teammates J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones, who were also voted in by the fans. 20-year-old Manny Machado will represent the O's off the bench.
Pirates are invading New York: Not only do the Pittsburgh Pirates possess MLB's best record, they're also sending four representatives to the All-Star game. Of course that list includes the face of their franchise, Andrew McCutchen. Joining him will be third baseman Pedro Alvarez and left-handed starter Jeff Locke, but the real noteworthy All-Star from Pittsburgh is 36-year-old closer Jason Grilli. After toiling in the big leagues for 11 years and making 370 appearances, he's an All-Star for the first time. He's converted 28 of his first 29 save chances this season.
A little relief: The American League Final Vote has an interesting twist to it: All five candidates are relievers with Joaquin Benoit (Tigers), Steve Delabar (Toronto Blues), David Robertson (New York Yankees), Tanner Scheppers (Texas Rangers) and Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox) being the options.
Precious Cargo’s: They share a nickname, and now Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies and Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers may be sharing an outfield on July 16. For Gonzalez, it’s a much deserved second consecutive All-Star selection and start for the National League. Of course an argument can be made that he should be on his third or fourth All-Star game after putting up stellar numbers in each of his first four full seasons, but at least he‘s getting the respect now. As for Gomez, he’ll be making his first All-Star appearance after hitting .319 with 13 homers and 41 RBI through Milwaukee's first 80 games. He also leads baseball with three home run saving catches because yes, defense does matter.
Notable omissions: As always, the list of snubs will end up longer than the list of actual All-Stars, but that doesn't mean the designation isn't warranted in many cases. For example, in the American League a strong case could be made for third basemen Evan Longoria and Josh Donaldson of the Oakland A's. Donaldson's .903 OPS ranks fourth among all third baseman and 11th in baseball. His omission means Bartolo Colon will be the A's only representative. That, in and of itself, is a remarkable story.
Over in the NL, the two names that stand out immediately are Stephen Strasburg and Freddie Freeman. If you could, please ignore Strasburg's 4-6 record. He's deserved a better fate as his 2.24 ERA would indicate. As for Freeman, the NL is obviously stacked at the first base position with Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Allen Craig getting the nod ahead of him, but his .853 OPS suggests he would be a very deserving selection.
One for the road: No surprise here. Mariano Rivera was named to AL All-Star team and will appear in his 13th and final All-Star game at Citi Field. It's a very fitting end to his Hall of Fame career spent entirely in New York, but the question now becomes will Rivera be given the opportunity to pitch the ninth inning (if there is one for the NL). At one point there was some debate over whether or not Rivera should start the game for the American League just to ensure he takes the hill and gets a proper sendoff. Perhaps we'll hear that debate heat up again over the next ten days.