7/6/2014 9:59 P.M. ET
Fans can right a wrong by voting for Sale, Rizzo
Chicago players deserve to be in All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Now we know the All-Stars, which means we also know the snubs, which means it's time for fans to do some voting vigilantism, righting wrongs and fighting injustice and doing their part to properly legislate the Midsummer Classic makeup.
The 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian is a long title for a short concept: Subtract a snub from each league.
And boy, were there a couple big ones this year.
Five players from each league are on the ballot, with fans able to cast their online ballots until the two winners are announced shortly after voting concludes Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
There will be playful banter and clever marketing and hashtags galore. All 10 guys -- Justin Morneau, Anthony Rendon, Anthony Rizzo, Casey McGehee and Justin Upton in the National League, and Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello, Garrett Richards and Chris Sale in the American League -- are on the Final Vote ballot for a reason. And that AL ballot, stacked as it is with deserving starters, might be the best Final Vote field I can remember.
But I'm here to tell you these final decisions ought to be easy:
Let's address those Windy City snubs, people.
Obviously, missing a month with a flexor muscle strain hurt Sale's cause when the players and Red Sox manager John Farrell rounded out the pitching portion of the AL roster. But if there's a better left-handed starter in the non-Clayton Kershaw section of Major League Baseball, I've yet to hear of him.
Sale is 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 13 starts. His adjusted ERA of 188 (or, 88 percent better than league average) is the best in the AL, as is his absurd 0.87 WHIP and 6.2 hits allowed per nine innings. Sale is striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.6. He's allowing just 0.6 homers per nine.
A short time ago, we feared Sale might be the next on the long list of arms undergoing Tommy John surgery this season, but he came back May 22 and didn't miss a beat. He's got both the track record and the eye-catching output you expect from an All-Star.
The only logical explanation for Sale's absence from the AL squad is that his peers and Farrell overemphasized the innings qualification. Despite an innings total (87 1/3) shy of current Cy Young qualification, Sale entered Sunday with a FanGraphs-calculated WAR (2.9) that ranked 10th in the AL. (It's also worth noting that Kershaw had the exact same innings count, but that didn't stop his peers from putting him on the NL team.)
Of course, had Sale made the squad and, say, Scott Kazmir or Mark Buehrle or Jon Lester or Max Scherzer been bumped, I'd be writing an entirely different column. The AL was just absolutely loaded with starting talent, and Farrell ran into tough choices.
"It is what it is," Sale said of his snub. "If [a Final Vote win] happens, awesome. For me, it's a win-win situation. Either you're going to the All-Star Game or you're getting to go hang out with your family for four straight days."
So, yeah, I guess I'm openly advocating for you to rob Sale of the chance to spend four straight days with his family. My apologies to the Sales.
I'm staying in Chicago for my NL Final Vote choice. Call me a partisan paisan, but Rizzo is the best choice, just ahead of another Anthony named Rendon.
Rizzo lost out to Freddie Freeman for the backup first-base job, and it's hard to find too much fault with that pick on the part of the players. These were their respective slash lines going into Sunday:
Freeman: .294 average, .386 OBP, .505 SLG, 13 homers, 47 RBIs, 2.8 WAR
Rizzo: .274 average, .384 OBP, .489 SLG, 17 homers, 45 RBIs, 2.5 WAR
The problem is that Mike Matheny's selections of Josh Harrison as the NL's seventh outfielder and Daniel Murphy (the Mets' lone rep) as the squad's third second baseman (fourth, if you count Matt Carpenter) created a roster crunch that Rizzo didn't survive.
Well, here's the chance to address the omission. Rizzo has come to form as the power-hitting, productive, Gold Glove-caliber first basemen the Cubs envisioned he'd be, and he, like Sale, is worthy of your Final Vote.
"It's an honor to come down to the wire like this," Rizzo said, "but I'm sure that the other four players are well-deserving as well."
Indeed, Rendon got squeezed at third base as a result of the fans voting in Aramis Ramirez and Matheny going with Carpenter as his utility guy, and I suppose he stands a good chance of getting squeezed here, too.
Clearly, the Final Vote can't fix everything. But here's hoping it addresses the Chicago snubs.