On Sunday, many articles were written about the omission of Bryce Harper from the National League All-Star team and the online push to vote him into the final spot began. Fans in Chicago are still trying to figure out how catcher A.J. Pierzynski was left off of the squad by Texas manager Ron Washington.
Washington attempted to address the decision:
“I feel bad for Pierzynski,” Washington said Sunday. “The guy is having an outstanding year. He’s been working with a very good pitching staff for many years. I consider him a winning player, because he beats you any way he can. He beats you mentally. He beats you physically. I really feel bad for Pierzynski.”
A.J. responded as you would expect him to do, as that explanation from Washington didn’t quite make a ton of sense.
“If (Washington) felt that bad he would have put me on the team,” Pierzynski told reporters in New York. “He had an opportunity to and he didn’t do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn’t feel that bad.”
I saw numerous Tweets asking how and why Joe Mauer made the team ahead of Pierzynski. I understand that question … to a point. Mauer leads AL catchers with a .324 batting average following Sunday’s play, though his power numbers are obviously underwhelming. The need to select a player from the Twins necessitated Mauer’s inclusion.
Washington could have picked Josh Willingham, I suppose, with his 20 doubles, 17 home runs, 55 RBI and .268 batting average. But, how could you leave off Mike Trout (you know his deal) or Mark Trumbo (.312, 20 HR, 55 RBI)? Matt Capps was worthy out of the pen with 14 saves in 15 opportunities, but he’s on the disabled list.
The player whose inclusion warrants a second look is Matt Wieters. Wieters is having a good season, producing 14 doubles, 11 HR and 38 RBI with a .249 batting average. Pierzynski owns 14 HR with 45 RBI and a .285 batting average.
The Orioles have other All-Star participants for the first time in a long time. Jim Johnson is one of the few closers to retain his job for the upstart Baltimore squad. Adam Jones has been fantastic. Jason Hammel had a miserable start his last time out that may have cost him a spot, although injury/work issues will show up and may make a place for him.
The White Sox have three other All-Stars in Chris Sale, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. You can debate Dunn’s inclusion, but the power numbers are awfully impressive.
So, the tie goes to Wieters.
1. He’s a young up-and-comer. You remember that he was the “Can’t Miss” guy ahead of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and the recently-promoted Anthony Rizzo.
2. The Orioles are relevant at the All-Star break for the first time since anybody can remember, with Buck Schowalter working some veteran magic. (Did you see the Earl Weaver tribute this weekend?)
3. The bottom line: People don’t like A.J. (as numerous polls would tell you) and when Washington had a choice, he went with the uncontroversial young, emerging player.
It is a loss for baseball fans and listeners of sports talk radio, though, as Pierzynski’s inclusion would have put him in front of the microphone a bunch. There are few, if any, better than Pierzsynski at the mic.