Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers’ lone representative at Tuesday’s All-Star game in New York. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks the pitcher with the majors’ lowest earned-run average deserves to start the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
His opinion, obvious as it may seem, isn’t shared by everyone. That might even include Clayton Kershaw, he of the 1.98 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 5.1 wins above replacement — all of which lead Major League Baseball.
“I don’t know why not,” Mattingly said. “I heard what he said about (New York Mets pitcher Matt) Harvey. That’s classy. That tells you a lot about Clayton. But I feel he’s good enough to be the guy.” Continue reading →
Yasiel Puig might wind up in a National League uniform at the 2013 All-Star Game next week, but not because the fans voted him in.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the online “Final Vote” Thursday over the popular runner-up Puig, earning an automatic spot on the NL roster. The All-Star Game is next Tuesday at Citi Field in New York.
Freeman was the leading vote-getter among the five National League “Final Vote” candidates after 24 hours of voting, and still led Puig Thursday morning.
Puig is hitting .394/.428/.634 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in his first 35 games. He was named the National League Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in June. However, he was not listed on the All-Star ballot and not among the reserves chosen by National League manager Bruce Bochy. That left the “Final Vote” — an online ballot conducted on MLB.com (and Thursday, on Twitter) — as Puig’s last chance to go to Citi Field.
Unless, that is, he is chosen as an injury replacement, which is not entirely unlikely. A year ago, four of the five “Final Vote” candidates played in the game. St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese won the online vote, while Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn and Bryce Harper became injury replacements.
Indeed, a player who began the season in Double-A has sold more jerseys than all but nine players through early July.
More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.
Yasiel Puig is second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” for the MLB All-Star Game. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig remained second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” tally announced Wednesday morning by MLB. A spokesperson for the league told me that there will be no announcements about exact vote totals or margin of separation during the voting period, other than what MLB chooses to release through MLB.com. So that’s all the data we have: Freeman first, Puig second.
As I pointed out in yesterday’s live chat, it’s in the league’s interest that fans feel like they’re a part of the All-Star selection process, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the product. MLB believes it’s found the right balance. Some, particularly those who feel the game shouldn’t count for home-field advantage in the World Series, will disagree.
Regardless, the winner of the “Final Vote” probably won’t play much in the game if he plays at all. That’s particularly true for Freeman, who must take a number behind three first basemen already selected to the National League roster. So what does it mean if – gasp! – Puig ultimately loses the vote to Freeman?
Does it mean a plurality of baseball fans agree with NL manager Bruce Bochy and others who believe that Puig isn’t experienced enough to be an All-Star?
Does it mean the Braves’ social media team is doing a better job convincing the world to vote for Freeman than the Dodgers are for Puig?
Freeman and Puig are still first and second, respectively, among National Leaguers. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was third, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was fourth and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was fifth when the day began.
The Dodgers are promoting both Puig and Gonzalez’s candidacies via social media and television advertisements, but Gonzalez has thrown his support behind Puig. So have many fans.
Puig is batting .409/.436/.667 in his first 33 major-league games. His eight home runs rank second on the Dodgers to Gonzalez, despite having played less than half as many games (85 to 33). His five steals are tied for third on the team. His throwing arm from right field has been a weapon that was missing with Andre Ethier the last seven years.
Meanwhile, among fans “Puigmania” has become a thing rivaling Fernandomania and other rookie sensations past. Puig’s jersey sales have set records and his candidacy has sparked some controversy over whether his career is long enough to be considered All-Star worthy this season.