Let me first state the obvious: Brandon Belt should be an All-Star. If you don’t believe so, then I regret to inform you that you have entered the wrong baseball site. Turn around and find a new one. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
Unfortunately, many of the people who decide the participants in the All-Star Game are nincompoops, so the selections often have an air of nincompoopery. So let’s cut the bull(nincom)poop, and get to the point: Brandon Belt is an All-Star.
OR MAYBE MORE!!!
If we gathered all of the season’s awards today, Belt wouldn’t just be an All-Star; he’d also be an MVP candidate. Belt is second in the National League in position player WAR, according to Fangraphs. He’s third if you include pitchers.
The two players above him - A.J. Pollack and Max Scherzer - both play for teams with winning records, so Belt isn’t taking home the MVP trophy in this hypothetical 45-game MVP race. But if he fails to crack the top five in your ballot then you also put ketchup on your tacos and refuse to pick up your dog’s (nincom)poop.
Don’t be that person.
MVP candidates should always be All-Stars, right? Right? …….. Right?
Why do I feel like I’m trying to convince myself of this as much as I’m trying to convince you?
The biggest obstacle
As you may be aware of, MLB has a horrendous rule wherein every team gets a player representative at the All-Star Game. It’s the baseball equivalent of a participation trophy, in a league that condones the most microscopic displays of joys, and cheers 95 MPH fastballs to the buttocks as a means of retribution.
And it could absolutely screw Brandon Belt in the most stupid, nincompoopy of ways.
Here are the top five first basemen in the NL this year, with their fWAR in parenthesis:
Brandon Belt (2.1)
Freddie Freeman (2.0)
Joey Votto (1.4)
Cody Bellinger (1.0)
Eric Hosmer (0.8)
Freeman is in. He’s good, he’s popular, and the Braves are one of the best stories in baseball, presuming you turn a blind eye to, you know, the blatant racism that emanates from their stands every half inning or so.
Let’s look at Hosmer, a fine but inferior player to Belt. Only one other position player on the San Diego Padres has eclipsed 0.5 WAR. That’s Travis Janikowski who . . . let’s just be honest here, is not going to be an All-Star. The only player contending with Hosmer for best on the squad is Ty Ross, and boy howdy would that be an uninspiring All-Star pick.
You see what I’m getting at. Good ol’ Eric Hosmer, owner of an exorbitant contract that he really doesn’t deserve (I’m all for players getting paid. Get it, Eric), owner of worse stats than Belt in every category imaginable, could steal Belt’s spot, just because the league demands a representative from baseball’s most uninspiring team.
As a reminder, there’s no set number of players at each position for the All-Star Game. Usually there are three first basemen selected, though sometimes only two.
If things hold, Belt will likely be an All-Star, but ugh . . . “likely” really should not exist in that sentence.
Wait a minute, what if Belt is the participation trophy?
The Giants have a lot of perennial All-Star candidates. Let’s go down the line.
Madison Bumgarner: Far too injured to be selected.
Johnny Cueto: Far too injured to be selected.
Andrew McCutchen: Playing fine. Not playing great or close to it.
Evan Longoria: Recovering from a slow start, not playing at an All-Star level in a talent-heavy position.
Which brings us to Buster Posey, who is having a fine season. But he’s fifth in the NL in fWAR, tied with Tucker Barnhart. Now, based on reputation, popularity, and pitch framing alone, he’d probably make the All-Star Game were voting held today, but it really isn’t a sure thing.
Translation: Belt may be the only Giant at the midsummer classic.
Brandon Belt is on pace for 7.6 fWAR, and if he isn’t an All-Star I will throw (nincom)poop at the walls.