MLB.com’s Richard Justice believes Rookie phenom Yasiel Puig should represent the National League in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, because he says, “Puig is the most interesting player in baseball, and isn’t that part of what the All-Star Game is about?”
Actually, Richard, it was supposed to be about who has played the best baseball through the first half of the season, and unfortunately, it has turned into a popularity contest. And, your slappyism isn’t helping to remind us of that.
By Justice’s logic, The Detroit Tigers’ Quintin Berry should have been an All Star in 2012 after he was called up to replace an injured Austin Jackson. Over 29 starts, Berry batted .305. Oh, and he clapped his hands a lot, and “pumped the crowd up.” Comerica Park adored him. He brought excitement to a mostly dull clubhouse. The rest of his stats were nothing worth writing home about.
By the same logic, The Blue Jay’s Munenori Kawasaki should also be on the All-Star team, because he’s admired by Jays fans, and he’s “lovable.” Forget about his .224 batting average.
Allowing fans to choose starters for the annual All-Star game is a flawed process, as was evidenced in 2001 when Cal Ripken Jr., hitting .217 with four home runs, was voted in. Sure, he’s a legend, but he wasn’t an All-Star in 2001. The list of undeserving All-Stars goes on forever, further proving that the fan-voting system is flawed, but this isn’t why Puig shouldn’t be on the team.
Over 28 games, Puig has 109 at-bats, with eight home runs, 18 RBI, a .440 BA and a 1.209 OPS. Take a moment to reflect on those numbers. They are indeed jarring, and he deserves all the recognition he’s getting. There’s no denying, Puig’s first month in the Major Leagues has been one for the ages. He’s the first player to win Player of the Month in his first month of play.
Now, take a moment to consider all the National League outfielders who have played since the beginning of the season, or have played multiple seasons, and have only now proved themselves All-Stars.
Let’s say the National League sends a whopping 12-14 outfielders, think of the players Puig could potentially bump out.
- Carlos Gomez – .311, 13 HR, 39 RBI (currently 10th in voting)
- Domonic Brown – .279, 22 HR, 60 RBI (currently 15th in voting)
Baseball is a bottom-line game. We often wait for milestones to cast judgement on players, and rightfully so. In addition to waiting for players to prove their steadfastness, we should be more patient with tossing awards around based on limited sample size. Should we give Max Scherzer and Matt Harvey their Cy Youngs now?
It would be remarkably awkward to look at Puig’s career stats, years from now, and see “All-Star” next to his 2013 line, based on a single month of play. It would be especially awkward if he turned out to play pedestrian ball for the rest of his career. No one hopes that happens, but Major League Baseball’s precedent of only allowing players who’ve played a majority of the season is a good one, and it’s one Puig shouldn’t be immune to. There are plenty of deserving players, namely Domonic Brown, who at this point doesn’t appear to be getting enough fan-votes for his first All-Star appearance.
Richard Justice ends his Puig-rubbing by stating:
Nothing can be done about the fact that Puig didn’t play his first game until June 2. Since then, he has been the best player in the game, the most interesting player in the game. Puig would also be the most interesting player in this Midsummer Classic, and that’s reason enough to want him there.
If “being interesting” is reason enough to be an All-Star, then I guess former Cubs catcher Mike Vail should have been an All-Star based on the fact he used to raise Persian cats during the offseason.
Puig deserves the attention, but not the title of All-Star. Not yet.