Monday, July 5, 2010

All-Star Idiocy

The selection of mediocre ninth-inning reliever Matt Capps to the All-Star Game neatly sums up all the major reasons I get annoyed with the whole All-Star Game routine.

First, I really try not to care that much. After all, it's such an obviously flawed process that it seems kinda pointless to fret over each individual misjudgment. Besides, it's just an exhibition. Oh, wait, it's not just an exhibition anymore, is it? Since the All-Star Game determines home field in the World Series, now I'm compelled to care.

My next top pet peeve with ASG selections is that the second halves of seasons never, ever seem to matter. If a player has a hot first half, he's an all-star, even if everyone knows that he's performing way over his head and will crater any day. Then again, a player can be one of the very best players at his position, but if he happens to have a bad April, he's out.

Matt Capps is a classic example of this silliness. Sure, you could argue I suppose that his saves total justifies an All-Star Game appearance (I wouldn't, but we'll get to that in a minute). But does his mostly terrible recent track record prior to the last three months really count for nothing? Shouldn't the All-Star Game feature the best players in the game? And don't you have to look at more of a player's body of work to decide whether they really belong?

I also get annoyed with the way the All-Star Game overvalues closers. Each year it seems like the ASG rosters are filled with about 8 good starters, maybe 1-2 really dominant ace relievers, and then 3-4 really pretty lousy pitchers who happen to be used in the ninth inning by their managers.

The last thing that really annoys me about the All-Star Game is the requirement that every team gets one player selected to the team. If a team is so bad that no player is deserving, then none should go, period. It would be an embarrassment to the team, pushing them to do more to get better.

In the Nationals' case, they had at least one legitimate All-Star in Ryan Zimmerman. Josh Willingham's numbers for this season certainly stack up, but I would probably have passed on him based on, again, his broader recent body of work (ie, he sucked in the second half last season).

But since Capps chosen--and it's really hard to imagine that Capps would be counted among the top closers in the game--it's fair to assume that if not for this rule, the Nationals might have no All-Stars at all.


Harper said...

"The last thing that really annoys me about the All-Star Game is the requirement that every team gets one player selected to the team. "

Booo! That's my favorite part of the game and as a little kid fan I'd always be waiting for "My guy" to get in the game. I'm looking at you Roberto Kelly. Ron Coomer lives!

Unknown said...

Any chance we can cajole you into taking a look at the stats from the 2nd half of last year through the first half of this year of various players who shouldn't have made the all-star game, and those who should have?

Hard to argue that between the 2nd half of last year and 1st half of this that there are too many better 3Bs than Zimmerman...

Guy Mcguffin said...

By my count, he's the 7th most deserving player on the team. What looks good on paper is his 22 Saves, currently 3rd in the NL (He also has 4 Blown Saves). But evaluating him against his peers...

There are 17 NL Closers with at least 5 saves at this point in the season. Here is how Matt Capps stacks up against them (statistic do not include 7/6):

-3.19 ERA (11 of 17)
-22% Inherited Runner Scoring % (6th)
-.748 OPS (14th)
-1.391 WHIP (13th)
-4.57 K:BB (2nd, which might be impressive if not for...)
-7.9 K/9 (12th)
-1.7 BB/9 (2nd)
-1 Save > 1 IP (6th)

So looking at all of these numbers, Matt Capps is essentially an average closer.


-Tyler Clippard is a better pitcher in the same bullpen.
-While certainly a fluke, Livan Hernandez has been arguably one of the 10 best starters in the NL up to this point.
-Stephen Strasburg is Stephen Strasburg. Outside of the buzz and opinion on his merit, he has pitched the exact same number of innings as Capps and has been better in every measurable category.
-Josh Willingham is #2 among all NL OFs in OPS+ (third among all NL players in OBP% & 6th in Slugging).
-Adam Dunn is 5th among NL 1B in WAR, while being the 5th best 1B usually doesn't merit and All-Star selection, especially because there will already be 4 1B on the team, it still might be better than the 10th best closer.
-Ryan Zimmerman's June slump probably took him from the most deserving 3B to behind Wright and Rolen. That being said, he's still better than Infante and considering that he's a defensive magician, I'd rather have him anywhere on the diamond than Infante at the same position. Regardless, it's still better than Capps.

This comment is not intended as a boast that the Nationals have many deserving players (although Willingham is a legitimate snub given the numbers), rather that Matt Capps is really, really average.

Steven said...

Yeah, I think that's probably about right.