Ten days ago, I alerted everyone to the possibility that the many worthy candidates for this year’s All-Star Game currently playing on the San Francisco Giants might not have a shot at even being on the roster. I know people don’t like when I start a post with a sense of panic, but that’s my main move, and I figured that the Giants having All-Star players would be relevant to a post about All-Star voting!
Today, though, my fears have been confirmed, as the Phase I voting has concluded and MLB has announced those who made the cut to Phase II, where voters will now choose between two players at each infield position and have a total of six to choose between in the outfield. The top vote getters for each league got automatic starting spots in the game:
TOP OVERALL VOTE-GETTERS
AL: Shohei Ohtani, DH, Angels — 2,646,307 votes
NL: Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves — 3,082,600 votes
Great. Fine. Make sense.
What doesn’t make sense — at least to me, anyway, and I’m both a partisan and someone striving to be neutral here — is the rejection of Thairo Estrada. I’d stumped for LaMonte Wade Jr., J.D. Davis, even Michael Conforto as worthy candidates for Giants fans who might think it unseemly to only vote for players on their favorite team because they were all legitimately good enough to be in consideration for top 3-4 in voting.
I made no qualifications or hedging when it came to Thairo Estrada. Objectively, he’s been the best second baseman in the National League! And he didn’t make the cut.
Second base: Luis Arraez (Marlins), Ozzie Albies (Braves)
Arraez’s quest to hit .400 makes him a favorite for his second straight All-Star Game — but first as an NL player — in his debut season in Miami. His .398 batting average is the best in the Majors by far, and he also leads MLB with 105 hits. Albies, a two-time All-Star, is having a great season too, with 17 home runs and a National League-leading 53 RBIs.
My case for him earlier in the month —
Luis Arraez occupies a special place because of his batting average — he’s legitimately one of the best hitters in baseball at the moment. What makes Thairo Estrada shine is his combination of power and defense, though. Not enough to overpower or defend against the .400 narrative, of course, but against Nolan Gorman? Sure. He does more than just hit home runs, he defends, hits doubles, and steals bases. Ozzie Albies is up there by Atlanta fervency and reputation, but he’s still not filling out the whole stat line — or defending — as well as Thairo Estrada has been. Miguel Vargas is a Dodger, but also, Estrada has 70 points on batting average in the same number of plate appearances and better defense. Jeff McNeil is there because he plays for the Mets. He’s just barely above a 1-win player.
— was clearly not convincing. In a straight line comp with Albies, though, it’s still a bummer (through 6-21-2023):
Albies: 73 G | 306 PA, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .268/.320/.504, 17 SB, +1.1 BsR, -2.1 Def, 1.6 fWAR
Estrada: 61 G | 277 PA, 9 HR, 28 RBI, .286/.339/.467, 5 SB, +4.0 BsR, +7.2 Def, 2.7 fWAR
Okay, look, I get it: the money lies in the RBIs, but defensively, baserunning-wise... these are also things valued by the Old School fans. He plays on the West Coast, though, and none of his teammates got the most votes in the National League, a real rising tide lifts all boats situation... on top of more Braves fans just showing up to vote.
So, while it was always a long shot that Estrada would unseat Luis Arraez, it’s still disappointing to see an All-Star performance consigned to digital oblivion. Sure, Logan Webb and Camilo Doval might be named to the pitching staff, but it’s going to get under my skin a little that the Giants have maybe 1-2 of the best position player starters available and those guys might not even make the trip.
I’d rather Estrada’s candidacy as one of the top 2 vote-getters starts fights on national broadcasts than if he gets named as a reserve or replacement and we have to hear people say stuff like, “He’s having a nice season, but —”.
Thairo Estrada, LaMonte Wade Jr., J.D. Davis, and Michael Conforto are all having nice seasons, but I guess most of the country won’t find that out until the Giants take down their favorite team later in the summer or fall.