There are essentially two ways a baseball player can be named to an All-Star roster.
The first is by way of fan vote. This is my personal favorite as a method for selection because it recognizes the unique problem inherent in identifying the “best” performers. There are no specific criteria for determining an All-Star. The criteria could be a great hitting, a great fielding, or a great personality. Each reason is just as viable as the others. So, in a way befitting the great nation of America, the voice of the public is called upon to decide. If the fans want to see you play, you get to play – no strings attached.
The second method for being named to an All-Star team is by way of player or manager selection. In order to earn this type of honor a player must not only prove to the fans, but to peers and coaches, that they are the most deserving player for the recognition.
These are the hurdles that any professional baseball player in MLB must overcome to be named an All-Star, and Stephen Strasburg is no exception.
Babe Ruthless makes a very strong argument for Strasburg’s candidacy. If the attention that has surrounded Strasburg since his fashionably late debut in the majors serves as any indication, he almost certainly would have received enough fan votes to have been named to the NL All-Star squad if he were on the ballot.
Along with that exceedingly high level of fan support, he goes on to discuss that “talent is talent.” And, with a 2.45 ERA and 54 Ks in only six appearances, it is quite obvious that talent is one category in which Strasburg is not lacking.
Unfortunately for Strasburg, he was not active in the majors long enough to appear on the ballot for fan selection. Whether he WOULD have gotten enough votes if he had been eligible since day one is irrelevant. He DIDN’T get them – end of argument.
If the Washington Nationals felt as though Strasburg was not yet ready to start for the team at the beginning of the MLB season, why should he be eligible to receive fan votes for the All-Star game?
And so with one door closed, Strasburg’s only viable option for All-Star selection is by way of garnering enough support from his peers and the coaches around the league.
Loyal Homer addresses this point specifically by quoting Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel, who ultimately holds the responsibility for filling this year’s NL All-Star roster. When asked about whether or not he would consider Strasburg for the All-Star team, Manuel responded that Strasburg would need to “earn his way.”
Manuel is not implying that rookies are undeserving of All-Star selection. Instead, he is simply highlighting the fact that Strasburg has not played enough to warrant serious consideration.
For an average starting pitcher, six appearances amount to only 20 percent of the total they will make over the season. That is not nearly enough time to provide any real indication as to whether or not Strasburg is the real deal over the course of an entire season.
Baseball, more than any other sport, is a game of numbers. That is why the fan voting process begins so early, and plays out for such a long period of time. Some players may start out hot in the first six games of the season, but fade over the grueling stretch of the summer months. Likewise, it is possible for a player to start slow, but them come on strong as the season progresses.
Also, it should be noted that Strasburg’s first six appearances were not all boast-worthy.
Although he does claim a 2.45 ERA and 54 Ks, Loyal Homer points out that he has not won a game in three weeks (during which time he made four of his six total starts), and has only a 2-2 record to show for his hard work.
When you compare that pallid mark with those of other NL pitchers who also fell short in fan votes, such as Jaime Garcia and Mike Pelfrey, a 2-2 record simply cannot justify admission onto an All-Star roster.
It was that point that ultimately carried the day for Loyal Homer.
Stephen Strasburg is one of the brightest stars in baseball. He is loaded with potential, and the early indications are that he will live up all of the expectations set before him. The All-Star game is not about showcasing potential, though. It is about showcasing the best talent that IS in the game of baseball, not the best talent that COULD BE.
I have very little doubt that Stephen Strasburg will go on to a very successful career as a major league pitcher. He should earn for himself many opportunities to represent his respective league many times over as one of the best pitchers in the baseball.
The 2010 season is just not going to be one of those years.