So, the All-Star rosters came out yesterday, and the Cubs have a couple first-time starters in Willson Contreras and Javy Baez, and a very deserving veteran pitcher in Jon Lester. Given the nature of fan voting and the requirement that every team is represented, having a trio of All-Stars on the roster is a very nice year.
And yet, as we discussed this weekend, there were upwards of four or five more Cubs for whom you could make a *plausible* All-Star argument. The reality, of course, is that every team has at least a few guys like that, and there simply isn’t room to fit them. So it’s not like I’m gonna take a swipe at those guys not being included in the final tally, pending injury replacements:
Full AL & NL rosters for the 2018 @AllStarGame were announced tonight on the @CampingWorld All-Star Selection Show on ESPN. Rosters include 29 All-Stars age-27 or younger, 25 first-time All-Stars and 21 foreign-born All-Stars. pic.twitter.com/ZonMp7k3WH
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) July 8, 2018
Still, when it came time thereafter for the Final Vote group (i.e., the fan voting contest to get in just one more All-Star), I really did expect there to be an additional Cub. I figured Albert Almora’s breakout season at the plate (plus continued dominance on defense) or maybe Kyle Schwarber’s robust offensive performance (plus vast improvement on defense) would be enough to get them included. On paper, and in isolation, they just seem like fringe All-Stars at least.
Of course, neither did make the Final Vote. It chapped me.
But then I really looked at the guys who made the Final Vote in the NL, and I don’t think I can be too mad that Almora and Schwarber aren’t in there. Indeed, it happens every year that I can’t believe the quality of the guys in the Final Vote group, and that’s the case again this year (*ESPECIALLY* Max Muncy, whose omission from the roster in the first place is just criminal):
These guys still have a chance.
— MLB (@MLB) July 9, 2018
That’s a strong group of players, each of whom was offered up frequently as something approaching an “expected” All-Star this year.
By WAR, you’ve got the 8th best player in the NL (Turner), 11th (Belt), 12th (Carpenter), 13th (Aguilar), and then Muncy would also be tied for 8th if he had the plate appearances to qualify (which, you know, means he’s been THAT good). Not that WAR is the be-all, end-all, but it’s something of a check against the traditional stats (which these guys all have going for them, too).
Almora isn’t getting love from WAR this year because his defense is underappreciated (his 1.7 WAR is tied for 37th), and Kyle Schwarber was just behind that Final Vote group, in 15th place.
My guess? Each of Almora and Schwarber were considered, and just barely missed out, reasonably so. The real mistake was in the players voting Charlie Blackmon on the team (sorry, but it’s true), which cost one of the Final Vote guys a spot, and then probably foreclosed one of Almora or Schwarber.