Apr 13, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; MLB umpires Mark Carlson, Scott Barry, and Jeff Nelson stand for God Bless America in front of the All Star Game 2014 logo at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves' All-Stars: Slim Pickings!

Few Braves Deserve All-Star Status

At this very moment, I can only think of one Atlanta Braves’ player I would personally give a vote for the All-Star Game, and that would be limited to Julio Teheran.  I won’t go into why Julio is deserving of a pick, because I think his performance and consistency this year speaks for itself.

Now before you rake me over the coals, please understand that my philosophy about the All-Star Game is as follows: I believe that ONLY the best players in Major League Baseball in a given year should be chosen for the All-Star Game.  I can and do watch the Atlanta Braves play almost every night (except when they have a day off), so I don’t specifically need to see them playing in the annual All-Star game, unless I feel they are deserving.  I am a huge Atlanta Braves fan, but consider myself first and foremost a baseball fan, and a bit of a purest.

I do not like the popularity contest the All-Star Game has become, and realizing I may be one of the few exceptions, I do not agree with fans voting for the selections.  There are many different and better ways we could go for choosing the best players in the league, and I won’t go into those strategies.  Suffice it to say that I just don’t like fan votes, because fan voting has clearly led to the annual classic being more of a popularity contest than anything else.

It’s because it has become a popularity contest that I also don’t like home field advantage in the World Series tied to the outcome of the All-Star Game.  I wouldn’t mind if we always put the best team on the field, but we don’t, so there shouldn’t be anything valuable riding on the outcome.  The All-Star game should go back to being merely an exhibition.


Down To Brass Tacks!

Now, down to brass tacks!  Even the best performers for the Atlanta Braves team, while I love and support them, are not the best at their positions in the league, and I dare anyone to contradict me on that while providing stats to prove it!

For example, I love Chris Johnson, and have supported him and believed in him even when most said he was nothing but a product of BABIP.  I also believe he has improved in intangible ways defensively, but the fact is that he is nowhere near the best 3rd baseman in the National League.

Andrelton Simmons is probably the best defensive shortstop in the game, and few would argue that with a straight face, but his off-balance discipline at the plate is so bad at times, I cannot consider him personally as an All-Star.  I believe All-Star selection criteria should encompass both defensive and offensive metrics and performance.

I’ll skip 2nd base for the Braves, and move on to Freddie Freeman at 1st base.  I love Freddie Freeman.  I believe he has more range than given credit for, and he is clearly one of the best hitters in any league.  That said, he is not the BEST 1st baseman when you consider both defensive and offensive metrics, so I cannot vote for Freddie however much I love him as a player.

Behind the plate, Evan Gattis has been a pleasant surprise this year, and I don’t mean with the bat!  He was expected to be good offensively and he is, but he has come around with his work at catcher much, much better than I anticipated, blocking the ball well, having a great arm, and managing pitchers with the wisdom of a seasoned veteran.  He works hard, spends a ton of time reportedly in the video room scouting hitters, and has been great for the Atlanta Braves.  That said, I still won’t go so far as to say he is all-around the best catcher to pick from.

In the outfield, Jason Heyward is a Gold Glover defensively, but his inconsistencies offensively always give me pause, and thus I cannot consider a vote for him to make the All-Star team.  I don’t consider Justin Upton a great defensive outfielder, and the elder B.J. Upton – don’t get me started!

As for pitching, do I even need to explain that Julio Teheran is the only pitcher (and not just starter) who is deserving?  Just look at the overall numbers if you need an explanation.  Even the great Craig Kimbrel hasn’t closed like the Craig Kimbrel we all know, love, and revere.


Final Take

So, am I missing anyone?  I could write a much more lengthy article offering up my strategies for how the system should be (in my opinion) for All-Star selections.  I could go on all day talking about what is broken with fan voting, and the inherent injustices of anything being decided by such a contest, but I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

The point I want to make is that however loving a fan you are for a team or a player, it should only be the best in a given year that make it to All-Star Game!  Yes, I realize that could be somewhat subjective, but even a casual fan can generally look at the numbers and come to some good conclusions in a given year.  I love my Braves, but as far as talent for the All-Star game – it’s slim pickings this  year!


Tags: 2014 All-star Game Atlanta Braves

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