All-Star games, in any sport, are nice in theory, but aren’t that great in reality. The NBA has been able to turn its All-Star game into a showcase of the league’s absurd athleticism, but that’s because of the unique contests that are held the night before the game. The actual game itself is basically an And1 tape. Dunks abound, but the players have no desire to play any defense whatsoever, which makes for a rotten overall product. The NFL Pro Bowl is also pretty terrible. They recently moved it to the week before the Super Bowl in attempt to get some kind of interest going and they almost scrapped the game all together this year. However, the big difference between the NFL and NBA’s All-Star exhibitions and MLB’s mid-season exhibition is that for whatever reason baseball has decided that the game needs to count. In fact, Bud and Co. have decided it is such an important affair that it needs to decide which league gets home field advantage in the World Series.
I’m no fan of Selig, but this move to make the All-Star game play such a huge role in the final outcome of the season is probably my biggest sticking point with the league’s commissioner. (And I have a ton of sticking points, trust me.) It’s truly absurd. Is there anybody out there that feels the Cardinals – a wildcard team – should’ve been at home for Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series? The Rangers won 96 games and made back-to-back trips. I’m a Cards fan and freely admit that the Rangers got a raw deal. Of course, maybe CJ Wilson should’ve had a better showing in the All-Star game, but he seems to have a problem rising to the occasion when it counts the most. Still, you get my point. It’s just silly to have such an enormous thing be decided by an exhibition game that really has little to do with merit. But, don’t expect Selig to make any changes. Change is a bad, bad word to the Commissioner. We’re stuck with a meaningless game that baseball has turned far too meaningful.
Earlier this week, Jim Tracy spoke out in frustration over the lack of All-Star votes for Carlos Gonzalez so far this year. For once, Jim and I completely agree. CarGo has been the NL’s best offensive outfielder this year. Maybe it’s because of the Rockies’ poor overall performance so far, but whatever the case, Carlos is not getting the attention he deserves. However, he’s not the only Rox outfielder that belongs in the All-Star game this year. Dexter Fowler also deserves to go, maybe even as much as Gonzalez.
Now, I realize that Tracy’s feelings for Fowler seem to mirror the City of Denver’s feelings for Jay Cutler. Chances of him advocating for the emerging centerfielder to make the all-star game are pretty much zero. In fact, Tracy’s early season tinkering with Dex is probably the biggest reason why he’s been flying under the radar so far this season. Most candidates already have 215 – 250 plate appearances. Dex has 181. Melky Cabrera – currently fifth in NL OF voting – has almost 30% more plate appearances than Fowler. Yet, even with this disparity in sample size, Dexter has posted numbers that place him in the “very good” category of MLB outfielders. A little proof:
Those are terrific numbers, no matter how you slice it. In the National League, he ranks in the top five of virtually every single offensive category. His WAR isn’t in the top ten, but that’s strictly because of his defensive metrics, which are probably a little skewed right now. Not that he’s been Jim Edmonds in center, by any means, but he has a lot more to deal with than most with Coors and it’s safe to expect those numbers to rise as the season progresses. You certainly wouldn’t trade it for his offensive output.
In the end, Dex won’t even sniff the All-Star game. His manager doesn’t even think he should get in. He won’t get the fan or the player vote, but he is without a doubt deserving. Last year, the NL had 11 outfielders. If you don’t think Dex has been one of the best 11 outfielders in the NL this year, you need to take off the Jim Tracy blinders. Offensively, he’s been everything that we have always hoped he would turn into. If he can live up to his potential defensively, maybe the All-Star nominations will follow. Whatever happens, I’m glad the Rox have Dex. I hope they finally realize what they have in him.