Buster Posey is the starter for the 2017 National League All-Stars, mostly because he’s the best catcher in the National League. He’s started each of the last two All-Star Games, and he’s the early favorite for next year, too. We are lucky to watch him.
Yes, the Italian Spiderman GIF, but in our souls. It would be a truly horrific existence, and the Giants would be 1-82, give or take. And in this hellworld, the coaches and players would have had to select a Giants representative for the All-Star Game.
And I’ll tell you, I keep staring at the roster and coming up blank.
See, usually a bad team has at least one dominant reliever. This is why Pat Neshek is making the All-Star Game for the Phillies. It was an easy choice for the managers back when they picked all of the reserves. They’re trying to win the game, after all, so it helped to have five or six name-brand closers. Bringing vintage Robb Nen into the fifth inning was a nice luxury to have.
The Giants don’t have that name-brand closer. Well, they do, but he was bad and now he’s broken. Mark Melancon wouldn’t have been the selection.
Who, then? I’ll rank the players and their qualifications, then offer a guess.
Pro: Hitting .299 with 17 steals.
Con: Injured with no guarantees that he’ll be healthy by the All-Star game.
Conclusion: Possible selection, especially if Joe Maddon were keen on replacing him with a better player, possibly as an end-around against the “every team has a rep” rule. You know ol’ quirky Joe would consider it.
Pro: Hitting .292 with a solid .343 OBP. He’s also a well-known player who hasn’t made an All-Star team yet, which is a tempting combination.
Con: His defense is rough enough to make him sub-replacement according to Baseball-Reference. Also, his numbers weren’t very impressive until a ridiculous surge that people might have missed. Just a couple weeks ago, he was just one of many struggling Giants.
Conclusion: Maybe? It’s not like Maddon and the players look at WAR.
Pro: Was an All-Star last year, so there’s some familiarity. Leads the team with 16 homers, and has been the best non-Posey hitter, even if very vocal weirdos don’t want to admit that.
Con: Hitting just .235, which isn’t pretty enough to impress Maddon and the players. They’re looking at the same stats as the weirdos who don’t like Belt. (This is why DJ LeMahieu and his shiny batting average made it, even though the park-adjusted metrics suggest that he’s been well below-average.)
Conclusion: Probably not.
Pro: Defense is still excellent! Name-brand player.
Con: Currently hitting like a nauseous Matt Moore.
Conclusion: Boy, I’d sure love it if Crawford would start hitting. Also, he probably wouldn’t be the selection, even if he’s a known quantity. Note that the same things apply to Hunter Pence, who isn’t getting his own section because I don’t want to repeat myself.
Pro: Having a solid season. Former All-Star
Con: His numbers are fine, but only if you adjust for park, which we’ve already established isn’t likely to happen. Even with the Gold Glove, .278 with five homers isn’t going to impress the people who pick the reserves.
Pro: Started the game last year, which was 10 years ago.
Con: Mediocre stats
Conclusion: Likelier than you think, just because of the name recognition, but still unlikely.
Pro: A stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio and advanced stats that suggest he’s been supremely unlucky.
Con: Yeah, the players and Maddon wouldn’t care about either of those. He’s 4-9 with a 4.54 ERA, which isn’t even close to average.
Pro: A 2.15 and a prototypical late-inning arm. He has 31 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Con: His reputation took a hit with the Bryce Harper kerfuffle, and he’s a middle reliever without a lot of margin for error.
Conclusion: Maybe? But probably not.
Pro: 2.08 ERA. Just one homer allowed.
Con: Something of a no-name without a lot track record. Walked 20 in just 30 innings, too.
Conclusion: Probably not.
Pro: 2.72 ERA, with 44 strikeouts in 39 innings. A veteran with a long history of sub-3.00 ERAs.
Con: Pretty unknown, like Gearrin. While the occasional setup man has been selected as an All-Star, it’s less established to take a 6th/7th-inning pitcher.
Conclusion: He’s ... he’s probably the guy?
My ranking for the likeliest Giants All-Star if Buster Posey didn’t exist:
- George Kontos
- Eduardo Nunez
- Denard Span
- Johnny Cueto
- Brandon Belt
- Joe Panik
- Cory Gearrin
- Hunter Strickland
- Jeff Samardzija
- Brandon Crawford
Kontos would be an easy fit for a manager looking to fill out a bullpen without disturbing the composition of the rest of the roster. Nuñez seems like an obvious fit, but the roster is so filled with third basemen that Kris Bryant and Justin Turner didn’t make it — it would be hard to justify leaving Jake Lamb off if Nuñez was healthy enough to play.
So appreciate Buster Posey just a little more today. You already did, just do it more. Without him, there’s a non-zero chance that the Giants’ only All-Star representative would be George Kontos. While he’s had a fine season and helped the Giants’ bullpen ... yeah, that wouldn’t have aged well.
It’s possible — just possible — that this post can help us understand what went wrong with the 2017 Giants, too. We’ll have to investigate this theory at another time.