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Blake Treinen makes 2018 All-Star team, but AL roster is a joke

Jed Lowrie gets snubbed hard on a roster full of mistakes.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 2018 MLB All-Star rosters have been announced, and Blake Treinen is currently the Oakland A’s lone representative. The green and gold stand 10 games over .500 at 50-40, with several of the best position players in the league, but all they were granted was one relief pitcher. Second baseman Jed Lowrie will probably earn some downballot MVP votes at year’s end, but he got snubbed for what would have been his first career All-Star berth. Click here to see the full rosters, or scroll down to see the AL below.

Let’s begin by congratulating Treinen. He is having an utterly dominant season, leading all AL relievers with a 0.81 ERA (minimum 20 innings). He has the peripherals to back it up, too, with a 1.80 FIP that ranks third. His 22 saves rank fourth, and of the two he blew one was the fault of his defense (fielding error on routine third out) and the other came after he inherited the tying runner in scoring position. His 100 mph sinker has become the terror of the league, and he’s vaulted from questionable closer candidate to legitimate lockdown relief ace. This is his first career nod, 100% deserved, and he’ll enjoy it in the stadium of the Nationals team that traded him away last summer.

Treinen, 2018: 0.81 ERA, 44⅔ ip, 54 Ks, 12 BB, 1 HR, 1.80 FIP, 22-of-24 saves

As for the rest of the roster? It is an annual tradition for fans to complain about All-Star selections and who should or should not have made it, but I’ve been mostly satisfied the last few years. Not this time, though, because this roster is trash, relatively speaking. There are several egregious mistakes.

First up, the snub of Lowrie. The only backup 2B spot went to Gleyber Torres, who to be fair has similarly excellent numbers to Lowrie. However, Torres is a rookie who has played 63 games in his entire MLB career and he’s currently on the disabled list. Perhaps Lowrie will simply be named as his injury replacement and all will turn out well, but the ends won’t justify the means on this one. Let’s not pretend that Torres is here for any other reason than that he is on the Yankees, who by the way did just fine with three other reps making the team. If the tables were turned and the long-time vet was in New York against an upstart rookie in Oakland with similar numbers, we all know the Yankee would still get the nod. This is an absolute joke, and one more example in a long line of tiresome East Coast Bias.

But maybe the answer is that we’re going with the biggest stars here, not purely the small-sample stats. In that case, how in the world does Mitch Moreland make it at 1B over Matt Olson? The latter is basically the Torres of first base, smashing his way into national headlines last summer and out-producing everyone else at the position this year. Instead we get Moreland, whom approximately 5% of casual baseball fans have heard of, because he gets to pepper doubles around Fenway Joke Of A Park en route to an inflated average (OPS 200 points higher at home). Good thing the Red Sox got a fifth representative or else how would they ever survive. This was the opposite situation from Lowrie/Torres, and it predictably went in favor of the East Coast again.

The biggest problem here, though, is the lone reps from the bad teams. The Orioles (Manny Machado) and White Sox (Jose Abreu) got taken care of by the fans in the starting lineup, but here are the rest:

Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo, “OF”
Royals: Salvador Perez, C
Tigers: Joe Jimenez, RP
Twins: Jose Berrios, SP

Actually, Choo isn’t a terrible pick, and he has the Lowrie Factor of being a long-time vet who’s never made it before. But if he was going to make it then it needed to be at the expense of Nelson Cruz, not in addition to him. Now there are effectively three DHs on the roster, for a game at an NL park no less. Excluding Cruz would have been no more ridiculous than leaving out Lowrie, and anyway the Mariners now have three representatives plus a fourth on the Final Vote ballot.

Next up, Berrios isn’t a terrible pick on his own, as he’s probably one of the top 15 or 20 starters in the AL. But the only correct answer from Minnesota was Eddie Rosario, who has easily been one of the top five outfielders in the league. What makes this extra dumb is that Rosario made the Final Vote ballot anyway, which opens up the chance that the crappy Twins could get two reps while the actually-kinda-contending A’s only get one. James Paxton or Blake Snell would have looked good in Berrios’ pitcher spot, while I can’t for the life of me figure out why Michael Brantley got a nod in the outfield over Rosario (the Indians got five reps?!?!).

Another mistake in the outfield was leaving out Nick Castellanos, who is clearly the Tigers’ best player and also one of their best-known. Instead they get a token middle reliever in Jimenez. He’s having a perfectly decent season, but picking a decent setup man is a dumb cop-out that we’ve seen happen to our own team multiple times. If a spot doesn’t get wasted on that third DH or that fifth Indian, then there’s room for Castellanos in the outfield.

Finally, we’ve got Perez. He’s a great player, highly respected, World Series MVP, etc. That’s all wonderful. He’s also having a terrible season, batting .213 and reaching base in only a quarter of his plate appearances. It’s by far the worst he’s ever performed, and he’s been arguably the worst starting catcher in the league. Granted, the catching position has been weak in the AL this year, so stashing the Royals rep there helps clear up other, more impacted positions. My pick for KC would have been Whit Merrifield, who is having his second straight excellent season, and that would have further conflicted with fitting in Lowrie. But again, the ends don’t justify the means here. Perez has had an All-Star career but he’s another joke of a pick this year.

I think that if you’re going to complain, you should offer your own viable solution. Therefore, here’s what I think the AL should have done:

Cut: Berrios (P), Jimenez (P), Perez (C), Moreland (1B), Torres (2B), Brantley (OF), Springer (OF), Cruz (DH)
Add: Paxton (P), Snell (P), Sanchez (C), Olson (1B), Lowrie (2B), Merrifield (2B), Rosario (OF), Castellanos (OF)

Starting pitching in the AL is so strong this year that I’m OK with only four relievers on the initial roster. Another could show up when replacements are inevitably needed. I swapped an OF for an IF because there’s usually a fifth reserve IF on the roster so I’m the one following normal precedent. I satisfied the national Yankees addiction by adding Sanchez in at catcher to make up for Torres.

The Twins, Tigers and Royals still have their lone reps, but now they’re actually those teams’ best players. I gave the Mariners a new nod in Paxton to make up for removing Cruz. And now the over-.500 A’s and Rays have multiple reps, while the juggernaut Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros still have plenty with four reps each. I’ve picked only moderately famous names but also cut mostly moderately famous names, and several of my picks actually have better recent track records so it’s not like I’m replacing a bunch of established superstars with flukey small-sample upstarts.

So there we have it. The 50-40 A’s get one lone rep on the initial roster, while the Red Sox, Astros, and Indians all get five each, the Yankees get four, and the Mariners get three (with NYY, BOS, SEA also showing up on the Final Vote ballot). The fans actually did a better job with their starting picks than the players/coaches did with the reserves. Weak.

Full AL roster

Starters listed in bold.

2018 AL All-Star roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Trevor Bauer, CLE
Jose Berrios, MIN
Gerrit Cole, HOU
J.A. Happ, TOR
Corey Kluber, CLE
Chris Sale, BOS
Luis Severino, NYY
Justin Verlander, HOU

Relievers

Aroldis Chapman, NYY
Edwin Diaz, SEA
Joe Jimenez, DET
Craig Kimbrel, BOS
Blake Treinen, OAK
Catchers

Wilson Ramos, TBR
Salvador Perez, KCR

Infielders

Jose Abreu, CHW
Jose Altuve, HOU
Manny Machado, BAL
Jose Ramirez, CLE

Mitch Moreland, BOS
Gleyber Torres, NYY
Francisco Lindor, CLE
Alex Bregman, HOU

Outfielders/DH

Mookie Betts, BOS
Mike Trout, LAA
Aaron Judge, NYY
J.D. Martinez, BOS

Michael Brantley, CLE
Shin-Soo Choo, TEX
Mitch Haniger, SEA
George Springer, HOU
Nelson Cruz, SEA

Final Vote candidates:

OF: Andrew Benintendi, BOS
OF: Eddie Rosario, MIN
SS: Jean Segura, SEA
SS: Andrelton Simmons, LAA
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, NYY