- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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Here is the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of snub: "to ignore (someone) in a deliberate and insulting way."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy spent a lot of time in the visiting manager's office in Washington last weekend going through possible All-Star picks, puzzling over various combinations of choices. He is well aware of the great work of Carlos Martinez and Jeurys Familia and others, and Bochy talked about how he'd love to pick everybody having a great season.
But the managers of the All-Star teams are completely boxed in by the various rules attached to the game -- rules that are necessary, because not everybody can be selected -- and they have to make impossible choices, so "snub" really doesn't apply. We need a new word.
How about "omission"?
From Merriam-Webster, the definition of omission: "something that has not been included or done; something that has been omitted."
Something. Or in this case, someone.
A lot of the choices Bochy and Royals manager Ned Yost made were dictated by falling dominoes, particularly the players added only because of the rule that all clubs must have at least one representative. Martinez is having a better season than Jonathan Papelbon, and Familia should be picked ahead of the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez, but one way or another, somebody worthy is going to be left off.
Here are the players I wish hadn't been omitted:
1. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers left-hander is not having as dominant of a season as he had in 2014, but it's not as if he's having a bad season; he's tied for the MLB lead in strikeouts and has a 3.08 ERA. He's baseball royalty and should be at the All-Star Game.
Kershaw says he had no expectations either way.
2. Carlos Martinez, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: He has taken a big step forward this year, developing his changeup into one of baseball's best, and he's learning to control his emotions. I would love to see him rewarded for that.
4. Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays center fielder is the Babe Ruth of defensive metrics this season, running away from the field in several categories. As Oakland GM Billy Beane once explained, it means as much to take away a run as it does to score a run, and nobody has been better at that part of the game than Kiermaier this season.
5. Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins: Dozier started his "Final Vote" campaign with a walk-off homer Monday night. The Twins have been one of the biggest surprises this season, and Dozier ranks among the top 20 MLB hitters in WAR (according to Fangraphs). He's the highest-ranked player in this category to not be an All-Star.
It's too bad he isn't part of the AL team ... yet.
I don't think Rodriguez was snubbed at all; Nelson Cruz won the starting spot (at DH) through the fans' vote, a perfectly reasonable choice, and Prince Fielder, who is having a tremendous season and ranks sixth among all players in OPS, was picked ahead of him.
On Baseball Tonight, they discussed the possible winners of the Final Vote.
Mark Simon has some info on each of the Final Vote candidates.
Pirates win again, but lose Harrison
When Pedro Alvarez's ground ball bounded into the outfield grass Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates had their sixth win in their past seven games and their 22nd win in their past 32 games, the best in the majors. (Afterward, A.J. Burnett ambushed Alvarez.)
But the Pirates are facing what could be their most daunting challenge in the days ahead. Josh Harrison, who had batted .338 since May 12, will get a second opinion on his thumb injury later this week, but he already has been placed on the disabled list, and Starling Marte is also out with a rib cage injury.
The Pirates claimed Travis Ishikawa on waivers the other day, and now Ishikawa slides into the role that Sean Rodriguez had been filling (as a late-inning defensive replacement for Alvarez) so Rodriguez can be used in other spots. Jung Ho Kang, hitting .257 with eight homers this season, becomes the starting third baseman in Harrison's absence, with Jordy Mercer locked in as the everyday shortstop.
The Pirates don't know how much time Marte will miss -- it could be days or longer -- though the outfielder has indicated that this injury is not as serious as a similar injury he suffered last year. Until he returns, the team will mix and match in the outfield, and hope that Gregory Polanco's growing pains ease. The 23-year-old Polanco has just a .300 on-base percentage in 78 games.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: Burnett allowed one earned run over 7 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 1.99. Only four pitchers age 38 or older have finished the first half with a sub-2.00 ERA: Roger Clemens (1.48 ERA in 2005), Phil Niekro (1.84 in 1984), Spud Chandler (1.87 in 1946) and Dutch Leonard (1.97 in 1948).
• On Monday's podcast, Rob Biertempfel talks about the state of the Pirates and Jerry Crasnick discusses his best-manager poll, plus Todd Radom's uniform and logo quiz.
• Cameron Maybin is having perhaps the best offensive season of his career at age 28, and some rival executives believe the Braves want to move him before July 31 in a sell-high deal, given that his value may never be higher than it is right now.
• The Angels discussed possible deals involving Josh Reddick and Ben Zobrist, reports Alden Gonzalez. Reddick is making $4.1 million this year and will be arbitration-eligible this winter before reaching free agency in the fall of 2016.
• The Giants have had conversations with other teams about available outfielders, including Maybin and Gerardo Parra of the Brewers.
• Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn't expect his team to become sellers, Joel Sherman writes.
• The Mets scratched together three runs in the ninth inning against the Giants on Monday, but think about these numbers: In a span of 20 games (since June 15), New York's offense has scored 46 runs and accumulated seven homers and nine double-play groundouts. The Mets began this season with a lower payroll than that of the Twins, Rockies, Reds and Brewers, and recently they splurged to re-acquire Kirk Nieuwenhuis with a waiver claim.
Kevin Kernan writes about when the Mets might again have an All-Star bat.
• The Giants' losing streak has reached seven games, and they have fallen back to .500.
• Jonathan Papelbon still expects to be traded.
Moves, deals and decisions
5. The Reds sent down a pitcher.
Dings and dents
From ESPN Stats and Info on how Sale won:
A. Traded strikeouts for weak contact: He struck out "only" six hitters, but got 16 of his 27 outs on soft contact, and almost 52 percent of the balls in play against him were weakly hit (his season average is 35 percent).
B. Kept the ball down: Sixty-three percent of Sale's pitches were in the lower half of the strike zone or below, his third-highest percentage of the season. The Blue Jays lead the league in slugging percentage against upper-half pitches and rank fourth against lower-half pitches. Ten of the 14 lower-half pitches the Blue Jays put in play were weakly hit.
C. Efficiency: Sale averaged a season-low 3.4 pitches per plate appearance. With two strikes, 57 percent of his pitches were in the strike zone, above his 46 percent season average.
2. The Phillies were done in by a long-time Phillie.
3. Errors cost the Blue Jays.
5. The Padres lost again and are a season-high seven games below .500.
8. The Cubs wasted a strong outing by Jon Lester.
10. The Dodgers came back to beat a terrible team, but they need a rotation turnaround.
• Two Tampa Bay pitchers were picked for the AL All-Star team.
• J.D. Martinez is on fire. From ESPN Stats and Info: Martinez's home run in the fourth inning Monday was his 15th homer since June 1, the most in the majors since the beginning of June.
• Zack Meisel reviews the Indians' weird first half.
• Albert Pujols will start in the All-Star Game.
• Pete Mackanin is the right guy to manage the Phillies through their mess, writes Marcus Hayes.
• The Braves are outperforming their payroll.
• Bernie Miklasz writes about what's next for the Cardinals.
• From Elias: Kyle Lohse hasn't allowed a homer in his past 13 home starts, the sixth-longest streak during the past 20 seasons and longest by any active pitcher.
And today will be better than yesterday.