Here’s an interesting statistic: heading into yesterday’s slate of action, Alcides Escobar was the American League leader in OPS for all qualified shortstops. Yes, the same Alcides Escobar who hit at a level that was reminiscent of Rafael Belliard in 2013 is now, just one year later, the best hitting shortstop in the American League.
However, Escobar, despite his .291/.330/.402 batting line, and despite being second in the American League amongst those shortstops that qualify for the batting title, was left off the All-Star roster. Derek Jeter, in his final season, was voted in as the starting shortstop for the American League, which certainly was not a surprise. Jeter, however, is playing at a barely above replacement level, posting a 0.6 WAR this season. Yet, his presence was to be expected.
The other shortstop on the American League All-Star team is Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox, who was selected by the players as a reserve. While Ramirez has had a solid season, posting a .286/.320/.408 batting line, Alcides Escobar has outperformed him this season. Ramirez may have more home runs, belting eight to Escobar’s two, but Escobar holds a 21 to 14 advantage in stolen bases and has been more valuable than Ramirez, as the White Sox shortstop has a 1.6 WAR to Escobar’s 2.0.
Also, let us not forget that the All-Star Game counts now. Since home field advantage for the World Series is being given to whichever league wins the contest, managers are putting more stock into having excellent defenders and versatility. If a part time player such as Josh Harrison can be placed on an All-Star roster, there would certainly be room for a player like Escobar on the American League side. Did John Farrell, when constructing his roster, truly need to have four first basemen instead of a sure fielding shortstop that routinely makes plays other shortstops cannot get to?
In order for Alcides Escobar to get on to the All-Star team, he would need to be an injury replacement. Hardly the only snub in the American League, as Ian Kinsler and Chris Sale also have compelling cases, Escobar, like Kinsler, is not included as part of the Final Vote. Instead, the Final Vote is comprised entirely of pitchers. On the plus side for All-Star snubs, at least Sale gets another chance to be included in the festivities.
Alcides Escobar has certainly done more than enough this season to deserve a spot on the All-Star team this year. Instead, for Escobar to make the trip to Minnesota next week, he will need to be an injury replacement.