Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan were named to the 2012 National League All-Star team today to play in Kansas City. It wasn't really much of a shock that McCutchen made the team but the addition of Hanrahan was a little bit of a head scratcher especially in light of James McDonald being nowhere to be found on the All-Star team.
If you only could take one player from the Pirates to represent the team in Kansas City, McCutchen would be that guy. That should take nothing away from how great McDonald has been but McCutchen is the lifeblood of this team. For an offense that was about as bad as any in Major League Baseball history for the first two months of the season he was the only light and many times won games by himself. Cutch leads the team in every major category and ranks in the top-10 in the entire MLB is all of them. As good as Cutch was in the first half last year he was even better this year. Here is his current rankings in MLB this year:
Batting Average - .346 (5th)
On base percentage - .401 (7th)
Slugging percentage - .593 (7th)
OPS - .993 (8th)
Hits - 97 (t-4th)
Home runs - 15 (t21st)
RBI - 51 (16th)
Stolen Bases - 14 (t19th)
Needless to say McCutchen has been one of the best in the entire league all season and is more than deserving to be on the team and if the Pirates keep winning and McCutchen doesn't take a nose dive like he did last season, or get hurt, he might be in the NL MVP hunt. When was the last time you could say that about a Pirates player? It feels good.
Hanrahan is earning a spot on the All-Star team for the second straight year after racking up 20 saves for the Pirates so far. While I do not personally believe that the saves stat is really important most in baseball still swear by it and Hanrahan is still one of the best in the business at shutting the door. In 31 appearances this year he has a 2.10 ERA and is striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings. He is consistently throwing in the mid to upper 90's and still has the wipeout slider to close the door. While closers are overrated for the most part having Hanrahan in the pen to shut down the ninth is an unbelievable commodity.
As all of you know by know I hate the MLB All-Star game more than anything in sports and it is specially because of how it is run. First off they treat the voting process like it is an exhibition game by letting fans vote and make it mandatory that every team has a player on it but then they turn around and give home field advantage for the World Series, the most important games in the season, to the winning team of the All-Star game. What an unbelievable joke.
I still am trying to figure out how McDonald doesn't make the team. Truly a head scratcher, especially considering that the manager (Tony La Russa) and player voted for those bench players. He has been dominating the offenses he is facing and it isn't just some small sample size analyzation. McDonald has a 2.44 ERA which is ninth best in the entire league while holding a minuscule 0.98 WHIP (7th best in the league). Six times this year he has gone seven innings or more which included his first complete game of his career in a June 21st victory over the Twins. What has been most impressive this season is McDonald's use of the slider to compliment the fastball and curveball. The third pitch has been a huge help and is averaging over eight strikeouts per nine innings while cutting his walks per nine in almost half with a 2.44 mark this year. His command has drastically improved and he already has almost two and a half wins for the Pirates after only compiling a 2.1 WAR in the previous two seasons.
The whole thing is just a joke. Not only is McDonald not in there but also Johnny Cueto is missing and Pablo Sandoval is starting at third base over David Wright. How does Dan Uggla start and Aaron Hill not even make the All-Star team? Sure he is on the "final vote" but, holy hell. But hey guys, this determines home field advantage for the most important games of the season! Yay!
Although I hate the MLB All-Star game more than any other sport's All-Star game (don't get me started) these Pirates more than deserved to make the team and it will be a treat to watch them when they play in Kansas City.