After the San Francisco Giants 5-3 victory Sunday in San Diego to win a road series, MLB announced Hunter Pence and Madison Bumgarner were two names of 33 players elected to the N.L. All Star team. Being 21 games over .500 at one point, a free fall was the only thing to stop them from having several All Star selections. And that’s exactly what happened.
After winning six of their first seven games in June, the team went into a tailspin they are still battling to get out of. The Giants dropped 15 of their last 19 games in the month and their division lead evaporated.
Before that, Michael Morse, Tim Hudson, Buster Posey and Jean Machi were all eligible nominations. Combine that with a healthy Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, and you had six more potential Giants who could have been tagged All Stars.
Of course, injuries to the latter three guys coincided with mounting losses. While the Giants don’t have as many All Stars as they could have, San Francisco knows these players “All Star” value to the team itself.
Looking at the final vote for a 34th player, Casey McGehee, Justin Morneau, Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Rendon, and Justin Upton are on the ballot. First base in the National League is pretty deep. Even if Belt were healthy he would have dealt with plenty of competition.
Managers and coaches select players not voted in and the N.L. team has only two relievers who aren’t closers. Aroldis Chapman, Francisco Rodriguez, and Craig Kimbrel make up most of the bullpen. Only Pittsburgh’s Tony Watson and Mike Matheny‘s own guy in Pat Neshek are middle to late inning relievers.
The Giants saw Neshek’s funky delivery last week. He’s put up impressive numbers to warrant election over St. Louis’ closer Trevor Rosenthal. Before Jean Machi’s two rough outings against Cincinnati, the 32 year old had a 0.29 ERA at one point.
It bettered Neshek’s 0.77 ERA, but Machi’s current 1.77 ERA shot up in two weeks and jeopardized his chances. The other thing to consider is the All Star manager selecting his own guy if an opportunity is there, which is only logical.
Santiago Casilla went down in late May running the bases. Prior to that he was lights out with a 1.17 ERA in April. Casilla returned June 18th and has replaced Sergio Romo as closer.
Casilla’s 1.08 ERA and 0.84 WHIP are definitely All Star worthy, but injuries took it away. It’s hard for non-closers to make All Star teams. Starting pitchers who are deserving, but don’t attend, is self explanatory due to their scheduled pitching days.
Relievers who aren’t closers often make it because they are on a bad team who needs a representative due to MLB rules. There’s also the case of injuries or other managers’ requests to not take one of their guys because
The case for Buster Posey is based more on his overall resume, but it holds water. He’s battled his own back issues and still hit .362 in June to raise his average near .290. Tack on nine home runs, 15 doubles, 41 RBI, and an argument can be made for Buster.
Yadier Molina is hitting .292, seven homers, and 30 RBI in 2014. Buster’s on-base percentage is almost identical to Molina’s and his slugging percentage is .435 compared to Molina’s .414.
Molina is voted in as a starter, but you could argue reserves Jonathan Lucroy or Devin Mesoraco could be in his place. Atlanta’s Evan Gattis is on the DL with a .290 average and 16 home runs of his own.
I’m not advocating Morse should be a starter, but he could have at least been considered in the final vote. Charlie Blackmon, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Harrison, and Hunter are N.L. outfield reserves. If Blackmon and Harrison can make it, Morse is right there. His average has dipped recently, but he’s still in the .270s with a .498 slugging percentage. He’s got 14 home runs (ninth most in N.L.) and 46 RBI.
Morse is included amongst a slew of outfielders who could be in Minnesota. This isn’t a knock on Blackmon or Harrison, but their selections aren’t indisputable.
If Angel Pagan were healthy, there is now way Pittsburgh has Andrew McCutchen and Harrison on the N.L. squad. Pagan’s nerve problems in his back last saw him play June 14th.
The Giants’ table setter hit .337 in April and .309 in May. Pagan was batting .307 with a .356 on-base percentage before he went down. And there’s no actual timetable for his return set now.
He’s also a big reason for why San Francisco plated often in first innings. Since 2012, the Giants are 163-124 when he plays in the regular season. Following Tuesday’s loss in Oakland, the team is now 56-71 when he’s absent.
They are a 90 pace win team when he’s around and a 70 pace win team without him. Unfortunately, his value to the Giants has been revealed most when he’s laid up.
Tim Hudson has been San Francisco’s best offseason hire. The 38 year old has given up four or more runs in only three starts. His worst outing came in the middle of June when the White Sox torched him for seven runs.
Aside from that game, he’s just as worthy as Mad Bum. He’s 7-5 with a 2.53 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He’s walked 16 batters in 17 starts and owns a remarkable 4.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Tyson Ross and Jordan Zimmermann are headed to Target Field on behalf of the Padres and Nationals respectively. Had the rule not been in place, Hudson’s numbers are better than either of those two and he’d certainly be present.
The Giants aren’t particularly worried about could-haves, hypotheticals, or All Star snubs. Having Pagan, Belt, and Casilla healthy provides All Star value to their own roster. That takes precedent at this point in a season that has suddenly gotten away from them.