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My 2021 MLB All-Star snubs

Over 60 of the most talented players Major League Baseball has to offer will converge at 20th and Blake in downtown Denver early next week, when the 2021 MLB All-Star Week, already underway, is hosted by the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

The fan voting to determine the nine starters for the American and National Leagues concluded July 1, and the remainder of both rosters were later rounded out by picks from players, coaches and league officials.

With only so many spots available on each roster, though, it is an unfortunate inevitability that deserving players will be left out. I crunched the numbers and made my picks for five of the most deserving players who did not see their names crack the official rosters.

Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers, LHP

This year is the first since 2008, Kershaw’s rookie season, that the Los Angeles Dodgers do not have a pitcher on the NL’s roster. Quite honestly, any one of Kershaw, Walker Buehler or Julio Urías have an argument for making the squad, but in my eyes, Kershaw is the most deserving of the trio.

Let’s begin with the simpler stats. Kershaw, in 106.1 innings of work this season, tied for ninth-most in baseball, has struck out 127 opposing hitters, good for ninth in baseball and second-most on the Dodgers. That mark translates to 10.75 strikeouts per nine innings, 15th-best in the big leagues. His 3.39 earned run average though his first 18 starts is a bit high, but where his case shines is in his peripheral stats.

Fangraphs, a widely-used and popular baseball statistics site, reports a stat called Wins Above Replacement. It is an estimation, not a concrete stat, that aims to show how valuable a player’s contributions have been to his team over an average replacement-level player. Among all Major League arms, Kershaw’s 2.8 fWAR ranks tied for eighth-best in baseball. Each of the seven players above him were honored with a selection, as were five below him.

Manny Machado – San Diego Padres, 3B

The Padres’ starting third baseman missed out on his fifth career All-Star selection this year, but he certainly should not have. The former first-round pick is hitting .271 with a .358 on-base percentage through 82 games this season, and has already accrued 142 total bases.

He also sports a 128 wRC+, a park-adjusted stat on Fangraphs that measures offensive value where 100 represents league-average and higher is better, meaning he has performed 28 percent better offensively than league-average this season. His wRC+ is bested only by Justin Turner, another one of my snubs, Rafael Devers and Kris Bryant among big league third basemen.

He has also continued his usual defensive wizardry at the hot corner this year, as his 6.6 defensive runs above average, according to Fangraphs, is tied for eighth-best in baseball overall and the highest of any third baseman, beating out Oakland’s Matt Chapman by a full run.

Tyler Glasnow – Tampa Bay Rays, RHP

Glasnow made headlines in mid-June when he claimed that MLB’s sudden crackdown on foreign substances directly contributed to his partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow he is currently rehabbing. Before his injury, the starter was having an All-Star-caliber season. Among starters with at least 80 innings under their belt, Glasnow’s 2.66 was tied for 15th-best in baseball.

Glasnow’s 64 ERA-, a park-adjusted ERA stat reported by Fangraphs that works the same way as wRC+ but in reverse where less than 100 is better, is tied for 11th-best in baseball, and he has struck out 12.58 hitters per nine innings, a mark bested by only Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes, Carlos Rodón and Shane Bieber, all of whom made the All-Star team.

Justin Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers, 3B

Third base is widely regarded as one of, if not the, deepest positions in MLB in any given year, and 2021 is no different. The 36-year-old Justin Turner has remained productive at the hot corner for the Dodgers this season, producing a 148 wRC+ that would mark his best season since 2018 in the category, and is also good for 14th-best in baseball, as well as the top mark among third basemen.

His 2.7 fWAR is also tied for fourth-highest among third basemen, bested only by Devers, Machado, Nolan Arenado and Jose Ramirez, and he has demonstrated impressive plate discipline as well, striking out only 17.9 percent of the time while factoring in a career-best 11.4 percent walk rate.

Yordan …lvarez – Houston Astros, DH, OF

…lvarez has never been honored with an All-Star selection in his brief three-year career, but was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2019 after slugging 27 home runs and slashing .313/.412/.655 with a 1.067 OPS.

After appearing in only two games for Houston in 2020, the 24-year-old is back with a veangance in 2021. He has produced a wRC+ of 154 in 72 games, tied for eighth-best in baseball with All-Star Cedric Mullins II, while clubbing 16 home runs and driving in 56 runs and scoring 53 times. His .921 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is also tied for 11th-best in the big leagues.

Of course, as with any All-Star event in any sport, there will always be deserving players left on the outside looking in following the conclusion of the selection process and announcements of substitutions for players unable to partake in the contest itself. The majority of the rosters were selected by fellow players and coaches, who are obviously much closer to the action than you or I and have their own reasoning behind their selections. This exercise is nonetheless an interesting one that never fails to resurface each year.

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