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What debate? Of course Strasburg belongs in the All-Star Game

Jun 29, 2010, 3:31 PM EDT

There is no good reason to keep Strasburg out of the All-Star Game and plenty of good reasons to let him in.

Lots of people have spent a lot of time in the past few days debating whether or not Stephen Strasburg should be on the All-Star team.  I’m having a hard time getting my brain around the “no” side of the debate.

The way I see it, the All-Star Game is either (a) a pitched competition of the best players in the game that determines home field advantage in the World Series; or (b) it’s an exhibition designed to showcase the stars and thrill the fans who get to see all of baseball’s brightest lights on one stage on one night.  No matter which of those philosophies you subscribe to, Strasburg belongs, does he not?

For those who believe that the teams absolutely need to play to win, can anyone honestly tell me that there are 13 pitchers National League partisans would rather have throw one or two innings?  Ubaldo, Halladay, Josh Johnson, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Mike Pelfrey, and a handful of relievers have an argument, I guess, but if you don’t put Strasburg in your top 13 most dominant NL pitchers this year, you’re crazy. Put differently, if I needed to pick one dude to strike someone out in order to save my children, I’d pick Strasburg for the job and so would you, and that has to count for something.

Likewise, if you believe the All-Star Game to be a mere exhibition, how can you deny him? What is more worthy of exhibition than Strasburg’s array of pitches? He has spurred ticket sales and TV ratings all year. He’s made guys on other teams drop what they’re doing in the clubhouse just to watch him pitch. I can’t imagine a single player in the National League who has generated more interest than Strasburg has this year. He’s practically designed to be at the center of a three-ring circus.

So what’s the cogent argument against his inclusion? That he hasn’t been up all season? Like that’s his fault? Even if you care about that — which I really don’t — I think he’s done enough in five starts alone to qualify for the “he had a great first half” argument, don’t you?

Besides: the Nats have to have someone in the game. Who you gonna send in his place? Matt Capps?

  1. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    The problem with that philosophy is oftentimes the player with a good first half really just had a good month. Take your example, Josh Willingham. Is he really the .280/.439/.598/1.037 hitter he was in May, or is he the .270/.393/.447/.839 hitter he was in April and June? Considering his career numbers (.266/.368/.480/.848) I’d lean toward the latter.

  2. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    Mark Teixiera and Adam LaRoche are notorious for being 2nd-half players. Should they not get consideration for end-of-the-year awards simply because they are hot-and-cold guys? Whether you are solid every month or you have 2 great months counteracting 2 poor months, whatever numbers you have are earned.

  3. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    And when is that coming?

  4. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Do you honestly think he won’t have a bad start? Ever? Seriously?

  5. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Of course not. I’m just looking at what he’s done so far without any yeah buts attached to it, and without any arbitrary service time requirements. I’m not going to penalize him just because the Nationals wanted to save money. He’s clearly one of the best pitchers in the game, and those are the players who should make up an All Star team.

    Actually, his lack of ML experience could be viewed as a bonus. Most of the AL roster has never even faced him.

  6. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    Bottom line, 5 starts is not enough to say someone is the best or worst. Just like most of the AL hasn’t faced him and how it’s a bonus, that could just as easily be a reason why he has pitched as well as he has.

  7. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    Have you actually watched any of Strasburg’s starts? Honest question.

  8. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    How many starts does a player need then?

  9. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Absolutely they should be considered. But we’re talking about the All-Star game, not post-season awards.

  10. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Typically, a full “trip around the league”. Tons of players every year come into the league and do well. Until teams see them and get some video. Once teams make adjustments, then the player has to make theirs. That’s when you see how good or bad they are.
    But if we’re talking about the ASG specifically, at least 7-8 weeks (roughly 25% of the season). When everyone else in consideration has pitched 3 times more than Strasburg, it’s unfair and (as I said before) a farce to them to put Strasburg ahead of them.

  11. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    Well the ASG is half a season so the ASG is basically a half-season award. So the point is still the same: is 3 solid months better, worse, or equal to 1.5 months great and 1.5 months bad if the end results are the same?

  12. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    Yes. What’s your point? He faced the Pirates, Indians, Royals, White Sox, and Braves. The Braves are the only team in the top 15 in runs scored (they are 8th). Only KC and the Braves are in the top 15 in OPS (12th and 13th). The Sox, Indians, and Pirates are all in the bottom 10 in both runs scored and OPS.

    Suffice to say, he had quite an easy slate to start his career.

    I’m not denying he’s good. But he hasn’t done anything yet that would suggest he’s better than Halladay, Jimenez, Garcia, Carpenter, Latos, Hudson, Wainwright, Johnson, Gallardo, Lincecum, Cain, etc. Especially when he’s faced a bunch of punchless offenses.

  13. Joboo - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    After five Major League starts:
    Strasburg: 2-2, 2.27 ERA, 7 BB, 48 K
    Jered Weaver: 5-0, 1.35 ERA, 5 BB, 31 K
    Were we having this conversation 4 years ago? For some reason, I cannot recall…

  14. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    “But he hasn’t done anything yet that would suggest he’s better than [guys]”

    All those guys throw 100 mph as a starter? All those guys have four plus pitches and can locate all of them? All of them have a 13.64 K/9 ratio? All those guys are the best pitching prospect in at least a decade? Wow, that’s news to me…

    Strasburg is a top-ten pitcher in all of baseball today, and that’s all there is to it. You can continue this feeble contrarianism if you’d like, but you’re only going to make yourself look more foolish when he does prove himself against top offenses.

  15. scatterbrian - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    So a pitcher needs to face each team three times before he can be considered good? Most teams have only seen Latos and Garcia once. Wanna add more criteria to your exclusive All-Star selection process?

  16. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    You need to learn to read, friend. How is a “trip around the league” anywhere near facing each team 3 times? You’re hurting your own argument by trying to turn mine into something I didn’t say.

    Every player should have to at least go through 1 adjustment period before any kind of decision should be made on them. It’s way too easy for someone to take the league by storm for a month or two. It happens every year.

  17. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    Strasburg is 21, and he has a K/9 of over 13 in the major leagues. When Weaver was 21, he also had a K/9 of over 13… at Long Beach State. They’re not even close to comparable.

  18. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    Since when did being able to hit 100 mph make you the best pitcher? Randy Johnson wasn’t a better pitcher than Greg Maddux. Speed isn’t everything.

    Since when did being the top “can’t-miss” prospect in any amount of time mean anything to major-league success? I mean, it’s not like tons of them don’t completely flame out or anything…oh wait…

    A 13.64 K/9 is great. It’d be much more impressive if A) it didn’t come against all mediocre or worse offenses including 3 of the bottom 10, and B) it was over more than 31.2 IP.

    When he finally DOES prove himself against top offenses and actually performs more than 5 times, then I’ll give him his due. You act like I’m saying he’s worse than Kyle Davies. He’s good, but he hasn’t done anything yet. Like Joboo said, Jered Weaver was killer in his first 5 starts. Was he immediately one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball? If not, is your reasoning based on his lack of a consistent 100-mph fastball or his lack of being the top prospect of the last decade or his lack of having enough SOs?

  19. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    Weaver was 23 when he debuted. So it’s only impressive when the guy’s 21 and not 23?

  20. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:25 PM

    1. You’re right, speed isn’t everything. Location and movement are also important. Strasburg has them all.
    2. Uhh, since A-Rod. Since Griffy. Since Prior (injuries notwithstanding). There’s an attitude amoung baseball fans, mainly ones that don’t follow the minor leagues, that every rookie is created equal and they all have to prove their worth. And while top prospects do sometimes flounder, it’s not random. Scouts do know what they’re talking about. And in the case of the very best prospects ever, they’re usually correct. Strasburg is just such a case.
    3. Sure, but that doesn’t make it a totally meaningless number. Strikeouts don’t actually require a huge sample size to be meaningful. Striking guys out at that rate isn’t something you can just dismiss, whatever the caveats are.
    Look, I’m not going to argue this forever. Strasburg was amazing in college, every team in baseball agreed that he was by far the best player in the ’09 draft, he was amazing in the minors, and he’s been amazing at the majors. Ridiculous fastball, devastating breaking ball, effective changeup. Scouts love him. Stats guys love him. If you don’t want to be convinced, fine, but mark my words: he’s the real deal.

  21. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Look at what I wrote. At the same age, Strasburg is doing to major league hitters what Weaver was doing to college players. Weaver was an impressive prospect, no doubt, but Strasburg is on a whole other level.

  22. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    And when he has more than 5 starts, he’ll prove it.

  23. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    Is Weaver’s performance less impressive just because of age? Both ages are fairly young for major-league starting pitchers.

    And age really doesn’t matter for YOUR particular argument, which is Strasburg is already one of the best pitchers in the NL.

    Joboo’s point still stands; Jered Weaver looked unhittable as a 23-year old rookie and has turned into a good-but-not-great starter. Strasburg hasn’t done anything to prove he’s a top 10 pitcher. He may, but he’ll need more than 5 starts to do so.

  24. JBerardi - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    He’s proven it already.

  25. nps6724 - Jun 29, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    You’re easily impressed, then. Should he just retire now and go straight to Cooperstown as the best pitcher ever born? Move over, Cy!

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