Giant All Stars
The Giants capped off a great Sunday with a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Cincinnati Reds after right fielder Jay Bruce inexplicably forgot how to play baseball at the most inopportune time. But before the game and the reunion of the 2002 almost-World Series champion team, news got out that there would be three Giants getting the starting nod in this year’s All Star game taking place in Kansas City: Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval. Matt Cain also got word that he was chosen as an All Star but nothing yet on whether he or Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey will be on the bump to start the game.
As you know, the starters are chosen by the fan votes and as such, are not always the players who baseball “experts” would have starting the Midsummer Classic. For example, Brandon Crawford was almost voted in as the starting shortstop. Yes, that Brandon Crawford. He was just 306,000 votes behind the eventual starter, Rafael Furcal. Again…Brandon Crawford was almost the starter. Wrap your head around that. Oh also, Freddy Sanchez was fourth in voting for second baseman. I would attempt to make a joke here, but that sentence alone is already funny.
With at least four Giants making the trek to Kansas City, it’s time to look at how deserving each one is of getting chosen to play in the game because based on the amount of votes that were cast between the last voting update and the results, some of these guys may not be in this position without the fans.
Posey, the leading vote-getter in the NL (and in the history of the National League), is the heart and soul of the Giants’ offense and undoubtedly the leader of this team. After getting his 2011 season cut short when Scott Cousins decided to role-play as the train from “Unstoppable,” Posey has returned this season and is showing that despite the horrific injury he sustained last year, he hasn’t missed a step. He is hitting .303 (good enough for second on the team) and leading the Giants in home runs (10) and RBI’s (42) all while catching one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
While his numbers aren’t as good as the man who placed second in voting for catchers and who many thought would end up starting the game in Yadier Molina (.312, 13 HR’s, 45 RBI’s) they are relatively close which doesn’t make his selection all that much of a surprise.
With the Giants recently capturing first place in the NL West, the fans voted like it was hot and tried to reward their young catcher and rightfully so. With the numbers so close between him and Molina, it makes sense that the fan base of the player on the better team record-wise would help get him in as the starter.
Level of deservedness: Deserving
All these pun-ilicious groups and sayings have started sprouting up ever since Cabrera began breaking Giants records left and right and proving himself to be one of the best hitters on the team. Acquired last offseason for the enigma known as Jonathan Sanchez, no one (and I repeat: no one) thought that he would be able to do what he has been able to do so far for the Giants. He leads the team with an average of .352 (which is also good enough for third in all of baseball) and seems to produce whenever the team needs him to do so.
If the hitting accolades weren’t enough, Cabrera managed to set two records this season – hits in the month of May (51) and achieving 100 hits in the fewest plate appearances. The guy he passed up to beat those records? Willie Mays. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Level of deservedness: If he didn’t make it, the Melkmen might have started a serious of riots and rightfully so
After missing more than a month after requiring surgery to repair a broken hamate bone, Sandoval likely had made plans to spend his All Star break doing non-baseball things. Well, the Giants fans came through and as a result, the Kung Fu Panda will be manning third base when July 10th rolls around. While Sandoval’s numbers aren’t terrible for someone who’s only played 45 games (.300, 6 HR’s, 25 RBI’s) he probably shouldn’t be starting over the Mets’ David Wright (76 games played, .354, 9 HR’s, 50 RBI’s). Okay, take out the “probably.”
Sandoval has had a bit of a rocky season off the field with his weight issues resurfacing and a certain sexual assault case that has yet to be resolved but all of that can be forgotten (at least for a little while) when he plays with the best of the best in Kansas City.
Maybe Sandoval was voting for himself the entire time he was out with injury. Or maybe he’s been voting on his phone while he’s in the dugout. There has to be some way to explain how he passed up Wright.
Level of deservedness: Not so much
A few months ago, with the Giants and Cain not yet able to reach an agreement on an extension, I wrote about how I was concerned that the Giants weren’t marketing Cain properly given that he was one of their best weapons and longest-tenured Giant. With everything that’s transpired this past season and this past month, they surely won’t have that problem anymore. Let’s leave the obvious accomplishment for later and take a look at his numbers. Sporting a 2.53 ERA (10th in the majors), Cain leads the team in innings pitched (113.2) and strikeouts (114) while ranking second and third respectively in the NL in those categories.
He has taken over this season as the ace of this staff and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With Tim Lincecum still on the fritz, Cain has emerged as the go-to guy and he hasn’t disappointed. And of course let’s not forget that he did that thing where he didn’t give up a hit, or walk a guy for an entire baseball game. You know, that thing where only 21 other pitchers in major league history have done? Yeah, I think that combined with his stellar year should be enough to get him named as an All Star.
Level of deservedness: Perfectly deserving
The Giants are well represented this year but ironically not as much as one would assume in the pitching department. The omission of Bumgarner was the biggest surprise to me (with honorable mention to Vogelsong, Casilla and Romo) as he has clearly established himself as one of the premier pitchers not only on the team, but in the game today. While it is entirely possible that he may make the team as a result of an injury, you can bet that not getting selected initially will be added motivation for him to mow down opposing batters for the rest of the season.
Aside from the Bumgarner snub, all seems to be well in Giants Land to this point in the season. The question now becomes whether they can keep up their solid play for a few more months and hold off what you would have to assume will be a furious attempt by the Dodgers to reclaim first place.
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