On Tuesday, MLB released its first “primary ballot” update, and oh boy, do fans not like the San Francisco Giants! Across all positions, only Buster Posey cracked the top 10—and barely at that, with his measly 79,768 votes topping only Wilson Ramos and Francisco Cervelli. (For perspective, Willson Contreras leads all NL catchers with more than 850,000 votes.)
Okay, just to get it out of the way: I think MLB’s new All-Star balloting format is dumb. Having a “primary season” is dumb. Modeling anything after the U.S. presidential election is dumb. It feels like another misguided, half-baked “solution” pitched by a suit with a law degree from Harvard who hasn’t watched live baseball since his parents got divorced and his estranged father brought him to a New York Mets game, where they sat together in uncomfortable plastic seats for three awkward hours making little conversation and even less eye contact.
Hey, MLB! You know what would drive interest for the All-Star game? Marketing your freaking players, you lousy bunch of no-good, baseball-hating pieces of—
Phew, got a little carried away at the end there. Anyway, the Giants’ collection of hapless hitters has failed to impress the all-powerful fans. That’s true of Posey, too. It’s only thanks to his undeniable charm and childish good looks that the Giants didn’t get dropped like Montana Governor Steve Bullock from the Democratic presidential debates.
The Giants have had the ignoble honor of sending a single obligatory representative to the All-Star showcase a few times now—Moises Alou in 2005, Jeffrey Leonard in 1987, almost every year in the 1970s—and it certainly looks like 2019 will join the ranks. Still, it’s worth asking: Is there a position player on this team that the voters have overlooked? Has the lamestream media unfairly dismissed the prospects of
Andrew Yang Brandon Belt? Do any of them actually deserve a spot on the NL roster?
To find out, I looked at the Giants’ top three offensive players by bWAR. Let’s see how they stand up to their peers.
3B: Evan Longoria
Top vote-getter at his position: Nolan Arenado, .330/.381/.602, 3 bWAR
There’s really no more damning indictment of the Giants’ season so far than the fact that Evan Longoria is leading the team with 1.3 bWAR. That number is getting a big assist from his defense (he’s currently second among third basemen in defensive runs saved with six), but most voters don’t care about
global warming defense. They want to see those big, shiny numbers that show up on the scoreboard when a player comes to the plate.
Sadly, the All-Star aspirations die with Longoria’s bat. Whether you’re into traditional stats or advanced metrics, the third baseman disappoints: He doesn’t hit for average, he doesn’t get on base, he’s sporting a paltry 93 OPS+, and he’s not even leading the Giants in home runs.
Besides, the NL is absolutely stacked when it comes to the hot corner. As Kruk would say, Longoria has none chance.
3B, I guess: Pablo Sandoval
Top vote-getter at his position: See above
Pablo Sandoval makes me laugh. Like a lot of others on this site, I was perplexed that he even made the Opening Day roster, strong Spring Training aside. He was the kind of legacy player who wasn’t supposed to last two seconds under the new regime.
Or so I thought. Turns out this Panda has some tricks up his… uh, bamboo tree? Mostly, those tricks involve not walking, but he’s made up for that with a career-best slugging percentage (.562). Even with the lack of free passes, he’s on pace to finish with his best batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS+ in half a decade. It’s inexplicable, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t fun.
So, what’s stopping the dream of Pablo Sandoval, 2019 All-Star? Two words: Plate appearances.
At the time of this writing, Sandoval has stepped up to the plate 140 times. That’s not even half of Arenado’s plate appearances (289).
Some of you might argue that Sandoval should start more, but frankly, that would probably end in disaster. The infielder has already shown signs of slowing down—he’s only had four extra-base hits in his last 54 plate appearances—and that’s with part-time duties. A resurgent Panda may be a feel-good narrative for Giants fans, but like parents watching their teenage child stumble through the lines in a high school production of Romeo and Juliet, it’s a narrative only we will appreciate.
1B: Brandon Belt
Top vote-getter at his position: Josh Bell, .324/.390/.656, 2.7 bWAR
Ah, Brandon Belt. I remember his one and only All-Star appearance. It was the first time a crowd of fans appreciated how good of a player he actually is.
Of the three players in this article, he is probably the one who actually deserves a spot in the top 10. Even with a janky knee, he’s managed to put up a .843 OPS, which is seventh best among National League first baseman. Plus, he’s been knocking it out of the park with his patented dry humor.
"Yeah, it's been a tough go against him, but what are you going to do when a guy gets lucky 55 times." Brandon Belt hasn't had a good time against Clayton Kershaw, but he found a way to get the Giants going Friday: https://t.co/j5E0p6DEdk— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 8, 2019
Unfortunately, while walks might get you nerds all hot and bothered, real fans know that hitters are supposed to hit. And, well, a .247 batting average and nine dingers isn’t going to cut it.
This year’s All-Star game is going to have a depressing shortage of the orange-and-black on both sides (sorry, Baltimore Orioles fans). It’s a testament to how bad this season has been that not even one position player on the Giants deserves serious consideration for an All-Star nod.
Well, at least we’ll have one of the best closers representing us.
/Farhan Zaidi trades Will Smith two days before the All-Star game.