PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates hoped to get three players on the National League roster for this year’s All-Star Game. Instead, they got only one.
Right-hander Mitch Keller was the Pirates’ lone selection when Major League Baseball announced the rosters Sunday for the July 11 game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
The Pirates also thought closer David Bednar and outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen had a chance to make the 32-man roster.
So why did Bednar and McCutchen get snubbed? There are a few reasons.
In Bednar’s case, two factors worked against him. The first is his overall volume of saves. The other is MLB tilting heavily toward starters on the NL pitching staff with just four of the 12 selections being relievers.
Bednar is fifth in the league in saves, having converted 16 of 17 opportunities. The four relievers on the NL squad are also the top four in saves: the San Francisco Giants’ Camilo Doval (24), Cincinnati Reds’ Alexi Diaz (23), San Diego Padres’ Josh Hader (18) and Milwaukee Brewers’ Devin Williams (17).
What ultimately dashed Bednar’s opportunity was really a lack of them – when it comes to saves. is control. He did not have a save chance from April 30-May 30 while the Pirates had a 6-19 record in that span following their 20-8 start to the season.
Otherwise, Bednar surely would have been playing in his second straight All-Star Game – he got the final three outs of the game last year at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles – with his 37/4 strikeout/walk ratio and 0.89 WHIP.
McCutchen is having an outstanding return season with the Pirates with his .278/.390/.440 slash line in 72 games to go with 10 home runs and nine stolen bases. Among NL players who have played at least 50% of their games as a designated hitter this season, McCutchen is first with 1.8 bWAR.
Furthermore, McCutchen has also been one of MLB’s more interesting storylines this season, returning to the Pirates as a free agent five years after they traded him. He has played a significant part, both on and off the field, in the Pirates having a respectable 39-44 record following four straight last-place finishes in the NL Central.
Yet the Los Angeles Dodgers’ J.D. Martinez will be the NL’s starting DH after winning the fan voting. By virtue of finishing second in the player voting, the Miami Marlins’ Jorge Soler will be Martinez’s backup.
The biggest determining factor is power because DH is still considered to be a position more for a masher than a player with a high on-base percentage. Soler’s 22 home runs are more than double McCutchen’s total and Martinez has gone deep 19 times.
Bednar and/or McCutchen could still wind up in Seattle, though. Every year, replacements are needed to sub for injured players or pitchers who are unavailable to throw in the game.
Thus, the door might not necessarily be slammed on the duo.
You might say they could be “unsnubbed.”