If you were lucky, you got to spend much of yesterday watching the Mariners win a baseball game. If you were lucky and smart, you then spent the rest of your day in the sun, with friends or family, doing nothing, or doing pretty much anything other than watching ESPN’s MLB All-Star Announcement Show.
I don’t know what exactly I was expecting going into the show, but it was pretty much what you’d expect. There was a whole lot of lip service given to Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Gleyber Torres, J.D. Martinez... you get the idea. My eyes started to glaze over around when A.J. Hinch was being interviewed on what it meant to be the AL All-Star manager.
Fortunately, somewhere in the dense forest of frivolous commentary on the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros, the Mariner All-Stars were announced. It was never obvious who was going to be selected. Edwin Díaz seemed like a shoe-in. James Paxton, Jean Segura, and Nelson Cruz only slightly less so. Mitch Haniger was certainly deserving, but knowing how All-Star games work, it was easy to see him getting snubbed.
So who made it?
There’s so much to be said about Edwin, but so little that actually needs to be said. I think this brief summary of yesterday’s outing is a perfect CV.
Edwin makes three very good hitters look absolutely silly here, including Nolan Arenado. With six games to go before the All-Star break, this was Edwin’s 35th save. The person with the next-most saves in the MLB is Craig Kimbrel, with 27. With this save, Edwin’s on pace for 62.3 on the year. The MLB record, if you didn’t know, is 62. I’d say Edwin was a shoe-in.
As good as the Mariners have been this season, the offense has actually lagged a bit. The Mariners have needed every run they’ve been able to squeeze out, and they wouldn’t have been able to squeeze out nearly as many without Nelson Cruz. Even at age 37, Cruz has shown no signs of slowing down.
His bat has been incredible. He’s missed some games this year, but if you prorated his 1.9 bWAR over a 162 game season, he’d be on pace for 4.2. That would make each of his years with the Mariners the four best seasons of his entire career. But for all of the love that his bat gets, Nelson’s presence in the clubhouse is huge too. From him hosting the team over the off-season for voluntary workouts, to his delicious facial expressions after home runs, to his famous bear hugs with Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz is a huge part of what makes the Mariners the Mariners. Without him, they’re not in the position they are today. As Isabelle wrote, extend Nelson Cruz.
Mitch was the one Mariner who probably should have been an All-Star, but wasn’t as obvious a selection as the others. He had an absolutely scorching April during which he was one of the very best players in all of the MLB. He’s dropped off a bit since then, but has still been an excellent player and an integral part of keeping the Mariner offense afloat in the absence of Robinson Canó.
Mitch Haniger with the walk-off bomb to sweep the Angels pic.twitter.com/HPW9mQ6yKg— Baseball Players™ (@BaseballPIayers) June 20, 2018
Mitch has had a breakout year, and even if he’s cooled off a bit since April, the Mariners have needed every bit of his consistency.
As great as it was that Edwin, Nelson, and Mitch made it, and as deserving as they were, it was a bit baffling when the final rosters were unveiled and James Paxton and Jean Segura were nowhere to be found.
It looks like Paxton was, unfortunately, a victim of the All-Star system. The rules say that each team has to have a representative. José Berríos was the Twins’ lone selection, and Joe Jiménez was chosen for the Tigers, though Paxton clearly has a resume superior to each of them. And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Paxton is likely to get in as an alternate. Though Trevor Bauer is slated to start before the All-Star game and get bumped off of the roster, Blake Snell was an even bigger snub than Paxton.
As for Segura, it’s positively baffling that he didn’t get in. I know that batting average isn’t the be-all, end-all it once was in the eyes of the voters, but it looks weird when the man ranking third in the AL in batting isn’t considered to be an All-Star. It seems that Segura has been equal parts a victim of the glut of talent at shortstop in the AL and his own lack of name recognition. As good as Jean’s been, Francisco Lindor has been better. And for as lovable as he’s been in our eyes, Manny Machado is a bigger name. Unfortunately, that’s how these things get decided.
The good news is that Jean is a candidate for the All-Star Final Vote. The vote is 100% determined by fans, and there’s no limit to the number of times you can vote. All you have to do is go here, and you can vote to your heart’s content. As an added bonus, the Mariners twitter account has been doing cool giveaways to encourage you to vote. Which is something you should do anyway. But hey, cool stuff!
When it’s things like name recognition and team popularity that are the main determinants of who gets All-Star status, it’s easy to sit back and say it doesn’t matter. To fans, it shouldn’t. League sanctioned awards have traditionally been awful measures of player talent, and will continue to be such until the MLB officially strips Derek Jeter of his Gold Glove awards. But to the players, these awards matter. To Jean, this matters.