First impressions seem fairly important when it comes to the All-Star game. As Logan wrote last week, Kyle Seager deserves to be an All-Star, not just because of his production at third, but his ranking as one of the very best position players in the American League. Despite this, Seager didn't even finish in the top 8 votes for third basemen in the AL. Top eight. Finishing below Kelly Johnson and Conor Gillaspie. I can't even begin to explain how this happened other than chalking it up to Seager's miserable start and subsequent afterthought. All other arguments as to how he got so badly overlooked come up short.
Most of the people who fill in All-Star ballots aren't people like us, knowing just how good Seager has been, is, and will continue to be. They're the ones who pop out the little bubbles on their pamphlet ballots and hand them to ushers as they exit ballgames covered in mustard holding sticky, empty ice cream-filled helmets. They're the ones who feel a great responsibility to rush home and log in another 25 votes for their favorite players. Let's be honest, a good portion of the more educated group of fans spends more time researching than they do voting, and they spend more time complaining about the injustice of it all when the inevitable result transpires.
Still, not even in the top eight at his position. It's absurd. Seager represents one of the biggest All-Star snubs in Mariner history, perhaps coming in second to Mike Cameron in 2003, who missed out with a 3.7 fWAR at the break. But even then, Cameron was on a stacked team with three other hitting all-stars (Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Bret Boone) and much of his value was tied up in defense, lost among many mashers in the middle of a boom. Cameron ranked 6th among AL position players when the All-Star game was played, and while Seager currently ranks 7th, his snub seems more egregious considering the more depressed offensive era and his more premium position.
Allow me to sensationally grandstand and headline grab. Kyle Seager's current non-inclusion would be one of the greatest All-Star game snubs in Mariner history, if not the greatest. He clearly didn't come anywhere close to getting in via vote, he didn't win the favor of John Farrell in his bench selections, and the "final vote" charade is five pitchers. But that doesn't mean Seager can't get into the game. In fact, he still has a semi-decent shot.
Edwin Encarnacion injured his quad over the weekend, and he may end up missing the better part of the entire month. His spot will be up for grabs. There's also an entire week of games left to be played in which other players can get hurt, or make themselves otherwise unavailable. Fernando Rodney might also find himself on the roster if some of the AL's pitchers can't participate, though his non-inclusion is far less of a snub, considering his relatively lower impact to the dozens of starting pitchers available as replacements.
The All-Star game is kind of a silly thing to begin with. Derek Jeter is bad, but Derek Jeter is starting because it's his last time around, and it'll be used to honor his career rather than his season. That's fine, as long as room is made for the best players on the bench. The game has always been about star power and recognition more than picking the very best players in early July. But it's a special honor for players who get selected, just a little bit better than looking at a WAR leaderboard with a sense of self-satisfaction.
A lot of you will scoff at the All-Star game as something you don't care much about, and as far as its ability to honor the best players, I agree. But the game is still something I watched with my father, who doesn't care much about baseball. Every summer through my childhood, telling him exactly who Carlos Baerga was, who he played for, and how many RBIs he had. Today, there are young baseball nerds like me telling their fathers who Sean Doolittle is as they bond together over their own summer tradition. Right now, Kyle Seager isn't one of those names that sons and fathers will learn about together in cities far away from the Pacific Northwest. He won't be on their radar, not yet. That's a bummer to me, and that's a super bummer to Kyle Seager. I hope Seager finds himself on the roster this week, because he's just about as deserving as any snubbed Mariner hitter has ever been.