The rosters for the 2014 MLB All Star Game have been announced, and three Royals have been selected for the second consecutive year. Salvador Perez headlines the group, as he will be starting for the American League squad, replacing the injured Matt Wieters, who was voted in by the fans. Alex Gordon and Greg Holland will be joining Perez for the mid-summer classic once again.
Perez is having arguably the best season for AL catchers, so getting the starting nod certainly makes sense. He has a 115 wRC+ and 10 home runs, all while providing excellent defense behind the plate. Derek Norris also had an argument, considering how incredible he’s been offensively, but Perez’s overall game trumps Norris’. It was the players who voted Perez into that role, so it’s great to see the league notice what many Royals’ fans have seen for a few years now: Sal Perez is pretty good at the baseballing. He’ll be the first Royal to start the All Star Game since 2000, when Jermaine Dye did it. Raul Ibanez was a Mariner then, but not a good one.
Gordon, like Perez, probably earned a starting spot on the AL team. Unlike with Perez, however, there was not an injury to vault Gordon into that starting role. Among all AL left fielders, Gordon has the highest WAR total at 4.4, 1.5 wins more than the next man on the list, Michael Brantley. He’s been struggling at the plate recently, but there should be no question that Gordon is the best overall left fielder in the game. While he should be starting, he at least can add a second All Star selection to his mantle.
As for Holland, he’s having yet another Hollandesque season, with 13.8 strikeouts per 9 innings and a 1.93 ERA, to go along with 23 saves, which ranks 2nd in the league. The AL pitching staff is pretty loaded, and if they have a lead in the 9th inning, I wouldn’t be surprised if Holland is called upon to close it out.
Obviously it’s great to see the Royals have three players named to the All Star Game for the second straight year – which is the first time that’s happened since 1987-88 – but a couple of other Royals likely earned a selection as well. Wade Davis probably would have made it, were it not for the AL pitching depth being so, well, deep. His numbers merited a nod, but it’s tough to choose between Davis, Dellin Betances, Sean Doolittle, and a whole bevy of other talented arms. It’s unfortunate, but there is still a chance for Davis to be added, as pitchers who throw on Sunday will need to be replaced on the roster.
Alcides Escobar may be the Royals’ biggest snub, however. I’m not one to show much outrage over an All Star Game, but Escobar had a good case to be the AL’s starting shortstop, and he was left off the roster completely. The only shortstop arguably doing better than Escobar is the Angels’ Erick Aybar, but the former’s baserunning and defense should be enough to put him above the latter. Instead of either player making the roster, Derek Jeter will be making the start, and Alexei Ramirez was voted in as a reserve. That sentence doesn’t really need any further comment.
Regardless of who deserved it and who didn’t, the 2014 MLB All Star Game will be played in Minnesota next Tuesday, July 15. The winning league will earn home field advantage for their league champion. The losing league will be forced to vote a team off of the island – I’m looking at you, Padres and Astros.
The rest of the All Star week festivities kick off on Sunday at 4:00 pm CDT, with the Futures Game, which will feature the Royals’ Christian Binford. Monday night is the night for the Home Run Derby, which will feature a few Royals players taking pictures and videos while sitting next to the dugout.