Wow... So the MLB All-Stars were just announced, and three Reds made the team: Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Arthur Rhodes. I was hoping for four All-Stars for the Reds, but I really thought Arthur Rhodes wouldn't get the honor because his work is done in middle relief. The other three were locks though. Except one of them didn't make it!
I couldn't fathom the possibility that Joey Votto would be left off the team. Granted, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez are very good and deserving of All-Star spots in their own right, but in an AL park where the DH will be used, there MUST be a third spot on the roster for a 1B, right? It's not even clear that Pujols and Gonzalez should have been given a spot ahead of Votto. According to fangraphs, Votto has the highest WAR for NL first baseman with 3.6, a full half-win ahead of both Pujols and Gonzalez. It's a bit different on baseball-reference.com where Gonzalez sits at 3.7 WAR to Votto and Pujols' 3.2. It's pretty clear that the three have performed similarly well this season. Plus, as I mentioned, the NL needs a DH. The highest wOBA in the NL belongs to... Joey Votto! In fact, Votto's .425 wOBA is well ahead of Gonzalez' .386. If Votto isn't the NL's starting first baseman, he should at least be the starting DH, right? How did Charlie Manuel miss this?
Wait, I see how... On my first read through the roster, I missed a player: Ryan Howard. Yes, Ryan Howard, currently 8th in both wOBA (.367) and WAR (1.2) among NL first basemen was named an All-Star over Votto. I guess Manuel didn't feel like he could pass up his own first baseman. That's just wrong, but we know that managers do it every year. It doesn't make it any easier to stomach though.
OK... Venting complete, let's look ahead. Votto was at least extended the courtesy of being put of for the final vote for the NL, along with Heath Bell (Padres), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Billy Wagner (Braves), and Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals). Obviously, I think Votto deserves the spot, but let's make sure the numbers support that position. While Wagner (0.9 WAR) and Bell (1.3 WAR) have been pretty good as relievers, they don't compare to the hitters, so let's focus on Votto, Gonzalez, and Zimmerman. Votto has been worth 3.6 WAR with a .425 wOBA, while Gonzalez (1.5 WAR, .356 wOBA) and a definitely solid Zimmerman (3.0 WAR, .372 wOBA) trail a fair bit behind. (Gonzalez's numbers lag just a hair behind Jay Bruce. Can you seriously make an argument that Bruce would deserve a spot on the team over Votto?) Votto must be the pick here, right? Well, maybe not. The team already has three first basemen, but just two third basemen and four outfielders (and whatever Omar Infante is). One of those other guys may fit the team's needs better. My gut tells me that either Votto or Zimmerman gets the final spot. It's a shame that those two guys aren't already assured of their spot. They've both earned it, especially Votto.