Dave Cameron of FanGraphs did two pieces picking out the American League and National League rosters for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game. His choices reminded me that the game is indeed almost a month away, and the rosters will be revealed on July 7. The time is now to start thinking about which players will represent each league in the confusing spectacle of the All-Star Game.
Of course, that includes figuring out which hapless Marlins player will end up representing the Fish in the 2013 game. The Marlins are dead last in baseball with the worst record in the game at 19-46. They are a full three games behind the Houston Astros, who share a similar problem in that their players also do not deserve a spot on the roster. We already mentioned how terrible the Marlins' All-Star ballot is. The Fish have such few options for this game that the choice may become both easy and hard; on one hand, there are not too many players to choose from, so there is no need to struggle over the choice, but on the other hand, none of the players merit the selection that much.
Still, the rule says that each team has to have a representative. The rule helps to keep fan interest in the game from all corners of Major League Baseball, and I agree with the premise to an extent. With the Marlins, the least that can be said is that there are a few exciting, fun players to watch who could make the All-Star team. Starting this week, we will begin tracking the Marlins All-Star Power Rankings, a weekly rating of likelihood that a specific Marlins player will be the All-Star representative of the team in 2013.
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP
The Marlins' best choice at the moment is rookie sensation Jose Fernandez. Fernandez has been terrific thus far this season, striking out almost 25 percent of hitters while well outpacing all expectations for a 20-year-old pitching in the majors in 2013. If Fernandez were not being lapped by the spectacular performance by the more advanced rookie starter Shelby Miller, I would have considered Fernandez among the early Rookie of the Year favorites.
Fernandez brings more to the table than just deserving stats. In fact, thanks to his pitch count limit, his innings and WAR numbers are down, meaning he will lack the counting stats that other starting pitchers will have. Fernandez's best quality is not necessarily his stats, but rather that his skillset is fun to watch. The All-Star Game is about more than just having the deserving numbers, but also about being interesting to watch, and Fernandez's fantastic arsenal brings that factor to the game.
2. Marcell Ozuna, OF
Ozuna has a similar case as Fernandez's, as he too will not have the counting stats to look impressive next to the other All-Stars due to playing time. Ozuna was called up in May and thus missed a month of playing time, but he has made up for it by hitting an impressive .314/.352/.444 during that time. The problem with his batting line is that, while the batting average is nice, the rest of the line is just "decent," and the overall line is as good as players like Alex Gordon (.297/.347/.441) and Ryan Zimmerman (.269/.348/.435).
More importantly, much of Ozuna's value has come from his defense, as UZR has him as seven runs better than average on the year. DRS has him at eight runs better, so they are in something of an agreement, but you should still be skeptical about his defensive skill, even with his known cannon arm and good range. Still, that arm would also add something to the "fun to watch" factor if Ozuna gets a chance to patrol the outfield.
3. Ricky Nolasco, RHP
The selection of Nolasco would be a sentimental one for the Marlins. As much-maligned as he was, he still is the longest-tenured Marlins pitcher in team history, which is extremely hard to imagine. He holds most of the team's pitching records as well. It would be a nice gesture if the Marlins' most accomplished pitcher, at least in terms of counting stats, ended up as the club's representative this season.
Of course, Nolasco also has to be performing well, and indeed he has. This has been a resurgent year for Nolasco, who has looked better than he has been since 2010. It helps that his ERA is actually close to matching his FIP as of right now, which is something that has not happened since 2008. If he can keep this up for the next month, he has an off-chance of being the team's representative thanks to his de facto "ace" status and his innings count.
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
Stanton has very little chance of making the All-Star team thanks to his recent injury and his slow start to the regular season, but he has one advantage over the rest of the players: he is clearly the best player on the Marlins. Being the best player sometimes gives you the nod, even if the statistics do not support your case. In order for him to make an actual run, however, he would have to drastically improve his numbers over the next few weeks.
5. Justin Ruggiano, OF
Ruggiano had a small chance to make it earlier in the year, when he was starting regularly and hitting decently. But now that Ruggiano has seemingly landed himself on the bench for no reason, the embattled Marlins outfielder has very little chance of getting in. If Ruggiano gets on a hot streak during his sparse playing time, however, do not be surprised if Mike Redmond reinserts him into the regular starting lineup. If that happens, Rugginao is still at best a dark horse candidate.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all the coverage of the Marlins' ongoing quest to put one player in the All-Star Game!