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Blame the manager for All-Star snubs? Not so fast

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

The biggest misconception about the All-Star team is that the manager picks it.

He doesn't. He picks a part of it -- a very small part of it.

The starters are picked by the fans. Most of the pitching staff and most of the reserves are picked by the players.

The manager then needs to make sure every team is represented.

Finally, he's left with a few -- very few -- choices of his own.

In effect, Tony La Russa picked nine players for the National League team. Of those, one had to be a Diamondback, one had to be a Padre, one had to be a Marlin and one had to be a Phillie (because those four teams weren't represented in either the fan or player vote).

La Russa actually chose three Phillies (Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz). He chose no Cardinals. And despite all the complaining from Cincinnati about how biased he is against the Reds, he used one of his at-large picks to take Jay Bruce.

La Russa's at-large picks: Hamels, Papelbon, Ruiz, Bruce, Clayton Kershaw, Wade Miley (as the only Diamondback), Huston Street (as a Padre), Ian Desmond and Giancarlo Stanton (as the only Marlin).

Because American League fans and players vote for a designated hitter and NL fans don't, Ron Washington had even fewer at-large picks than La Russa did.

Washington originally had just six at-large picks, and one of those had to go to a Mariner, one to a Twin and one to a Royal. He ended up with a seventh pick, when CC Sabathia (voted in by the players) went on the disabled list and was forced to withdraw from the game.

After picking Felix Hernandez to represent the Mariners, Joe Mauer to represent the Twins and Billy Butler to represent the Royals, Washington was left with four picks. He took three of his own Rangers players (Matt Harrison, Joe Nathan and Elvis Andrus), and one ex-Ranger (Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, who replaced Sabathia).

Other All-Star team notes and oddities:

The players agreed with National League voters on only three of their eight picks (Joey Votto at first base, Carlos Beltran and Melky Cabrera in the outfield). The players took Yadier Molina at catcher (ahead of Buster Posey), Jose Altuve at second base (ahead of Dan Uggla), David Wright at third base (ahead of Pablo Sandoval), Starlin Castro at shortstop (ahead of Rafael Furcal) and Ryan Braun for the other outfield spot (ahead of Matt Kemp).

In the American League, the players and fans agreed on five of the nine spots (Robinson Cano at second base, Derek Jeter at shortstop, Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista in the outfield) and David Ortiz as the DH. The players took Matt Wieters at catcher (ahead of Mike Napoli), Paul Konerko at first base (ahead of Prince Fielder), Miguel Cabrera at third base (ahead of Adrian Beltre) and Adam Jones for the other outfield spot (ahead of Curtis Granderson).

American League All-Star voters stayed consistent, picking six of the nine players they chose in 2011 (Cano, Jeter, Bautista, Granderson, Hamilton, Ortiz). National League voters went for almost a total change, voting for only one player they picked in 2011 (Kemp, who will almost certainly miss the game this year because of injury).

The Giants were by far the most successful team at getting out the late vote. The only two All-Star starters who overcame a final-week deficit were Sandoval at third base (over Wright) and Melky Cabrera for the final outfield spot (over Braun). Cabrera, in fact, jumped all the way from fourth to first among NL outfielders in the final week, with nearly 5 million of his 7.5 million votes coming in the last week.

The Rangers were so successful in their get-out-the-vote campaign that Mitch Moreland actually received more votes at first base than Albert Pujols did.

It's understandable that some fans were upset that Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto weren't on the team. But the players voted for Lance Lynn over either of them, and La Russa added only two starting pitchers, Hamels and Kershaw -- both of whom were deserving. Why Lynn, who has a 9.98 ERA over his last three starts and has fallen to 27th in the NL ERA race? Well, before those last three starts (when many players voted), he was 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA. At that point, Cueto was 7-3 with a 2.46 ERA. Greinke was 7-2 with a 2.96 ERA at the same point.

Baseball doesn't list complete voting results, but they listed 72 American League players among the leaders. Only one of the 72 came from the Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki, who was 10th among outfielders. By contrast, every Yankee and every Ranger on the ballot (nine each) made the leaders list. There were 64 players listed among the National League leaders (with no DH spot): No Padres, only one Met and one Pirate, but every Phillie, Brewer, Cardinal and Giant who was on the ballot (eight each).

The only write-in candidate from the fan ballot who made it to the leaders list was Mike Trout (who was eventually voted in by the players). Trout, who wasn't on the ballot because he began the season in the minor leagues, received 832,439 votes. Trout received more votes than 28 of the outfielders who were on the ballot.

Can't argue with the choice, but how funny is it that the guy who played first base for the Angels last year (Mark Trumbo) made the All-Star team, but the guy who they paid $240 million to take over for him (Pujols) did not?

 
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