Breaking down each of the AL East All-Stars
Well folks, the votes are in, the ballots counted, and your 2014 All-Star teams are (mostly) complete. As with every year, there will be players who are injured and pull out, and there’s still the final fan vote or whatever they call it to determine the last player selected, so these rosters aren’t quite official yet. That said, the players who have earned their way onto the team – either through popularity, merit, or both – have been decided. So, how did the American League East fare? Let’s see, in our team-by-team look at the American League East All-Stars.
Starters: C Matt Wieters (injured), OF Adam Jones, DH Nelson Cruz
The first-place Orioles have only three All-Stars, and one of them won’t play, but I have to say I don’t see any real issues with Baltimore’s representation. The fact that Matt Wieters was voted a starter after playing in only 26 games is a joke, but for those 26 games he was the league’s best catcher, so at least you can sorta kinda see it. Cruz was a no-brainer with his 27 home runs and 71 RBI, and Adam Jones is always an easy pick. Most telling for Baltimore is the total lack of pitching selected; just shows how much Baltimore has struggled in that area.
Toronto Blue Jays
Starters: OF Jose Bautista
Reserves: 1B Edwin Encarnacion (injured)
Pitchers: SP Mark Buehrle
Once again, I think this team’s representation is pretty much spot on. Sure, you could convince me that Melky Cabrera may have deserved a spot, but I’m not going to kick and scream about him being left off the roster. Same goes with Casey Janssen, but he hasn’t been in the closer role long enough to get the nod there. As far as the guys who did make it, all no-brainers. Encarnacion has been on fire since May, though now will miss the game with an injury. Bautista leads the AL with a .419 OBP and has 17 home runs to go with it, so that’s an easy pick. As for Buehrle, he’s been great all season, even with only one win since June 2nd. All the voters – fans and players alike – did just fine with Toronto.
New York Yankees
Starters: SS Derek Jeter
Pitchers: SP Masahiro Tanaka, RP Dellin Betances
As long as we can all agree Jeter is there on 0 percent merit, I’m ok with it. He’s retiring, it’s the All-Star Game, let the man start. I don’t even care that the game “matters,” because the result ends up being decided by the reserves anyway (just another reason the format needs re-working). So I’m actually not super upset about the Jeter pick. Obviously, Tanaka is an easy one; he’s probably the odds-on favorite to start the game (if the schedule works out). Betances though…ugh. Look, I’m not going to tell you he hasn’t been good; 78 strikeouts in 50 innings with a 1.61 ERA is really, really good. I just don’t know how I feel about middle-relief pitchers being in the game. I know that’s not entirely fair, since he’s been so dominant, but a guy with four wins and no saves just doesn’t seem like he belongs. Just a mental block, I guess. I don’t think any Yankees were snubbed. Brett Gardner has been fine, but he’s hardly an All-Star. Same goes for Jacoby Ellsbury, and no other Yankee has been better than “fine.”
Tampa Bay Rays
Pitchers: SP David Price
That kind of season for Tampa so far. At 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA, the Rays might be the clearest sign of the “every team needs a player represented” rule in the entire American League. It’s not that Price has been bad, per se, I just think he doesn’t make it if he doesn’t need to by MLB rules. He’s by far their best option though; Longoria, Myers, Jennings, Archer – they’re all struggling this season. By default, Tampa has no snubs. If anything, Price is the anti-snub because of MLB treating the All-Star Game like it’s Little League.
Boston Red Sox
Pitchers: SP Jon Lester
Yes, I realize that a lot of what I just said about Price could apply to Lester. But Lester has been better than Price this year no matter how you slice it. More wins, much better ERA, and just generally better-looking out there on the mound. I’m hardly surprised none of Boston’s position players made it; usual All-Stars David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are underperforming, and nobody else is even close to being an All-Star. The only snub for the Sox is closer Koji Uehara, and with Boston manager John Farrell in charge of injury replacements, that will likely be corrected. He’s got a better ERA and WHIP than New York’s Betances in nearly as many innings. He’s also got 18 saves to Betances’ 0. Even without the strikeouts, it’s easy to argue Koji has been the better – or at least the far more valuable – player.
So there you have it. Final tally as of today for the American League East:
– Five starters (one injured and not playing)
– One reserve (injured and not playing)
– Five pitchers
The fact that the five AL East teams combined for only 11 All-Stars, one of which is only there because he’s retiring, really tells the story of the division. The division just isn’t that good right now, and it’s in large part due to the lack of stars you’re seeing now. With the young talent coming up for several of these teams, that may change soon. But for 2014, the All-Star Game is decidedly not an American League East affair.