Without a doubt, Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara deserved to be the NL starting pitcher in the MLB All-Star Game over Clayton Kershaw.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t play his home games in Los Angeles.
That’s basically what it came down to Monday afternoon when the starters for this year’s Midsummer Classic were announced. Because by virtue of an single statistical measure drawn from the 2022 MLB season, the honor was clearly Sandy Alcantara’s. Instead, long-time Dodger Clayton Kershaw gets the nod for the in Dodger Stadium MLB All-Star Game.
And if the All-Star Game was solely about conferring Lifetime Achievement Awards, that wouldn’t be a problem. Kershaw has been one of the greatest players of his generation. Considering this could well be his last season, putting him in the game makes perfect sense. MLB made the right move in selecting him to the roster, just the same as they did in allowing Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera to participate. In fact, Kershaw’s selection is actually much more defensible, as he has put up All-Star caliber numbers for the 71.2 IP he’s been available in 2022. A 2.13 ERA and 0.907 WHIP are nothing to sneeze at by any means.
However, that only justifies getting him in the door. Not giving him the start.
The MLB leader among pitchers for WAR? That’d be Alcantara, who coincidentally doesn’t even need that pitcher qualifier- he leads all players with his 5.3 WAR mark. The NL leader in ERA? Alcantara. Innings pitched? Alcantara again. Meanwhile, Kerhsaw isn’t even the best Dodgers pitcher participating in the event. That would be Tony Gonsolin, who also trails Alcantara in call categories besides playing 81 games in Southern California. Which could explain why Kershaw was listed as an MLB choice, and not a player selection, when the the original roster was announced last week.
No, the starting pitcher spot is supposed to be about merit, not mere fan service. A refreshing contrast from the fan vote used to determine the rest of the starters, which will often include one or two players from larger markets that have had seasons less impressive than the actual best player at the position in question. Making an All-Star Game roster is a great honor, and a big step in the career of any player. But starting in the All-Star Game? Especially as a pitcher? That’s potentially once in a lifetime type stuff.
A point made all the more frustrating considering that the American League starter, Shane McClanahan, is the pitcher having the best season in that league, and not the legacy vote.
The fact that this is the first time a pitcher with Kerhsaw’s resume is getting the chance to do so only further underscores the point that the honor should have gone to Alcantara. Whether because of injury, availability, or just a slight slip in the numbers, there’s zero guarantee Alcantara has a season this dominant ever again- even if he too becomes the first ballot Hall of Famer that Kershaw surely will be.
Pure and simple, MLB blew this call. Without question, put Kershaw on the team, and be sure to let him pitch. But the starting honor belonged to Sandy Alcantara.