Sunday, July 4, 2010

Which Snubbed Giants Have An All-Star Case to Make?

First off, congratulations to Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson for making the NL All-Star roster. I know Lincecum hasn't been as dominant as in years past, but take this into consideration: despite his "off-year" Lincecum is still ranked fourth in the National League in FIP (ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez actually). So, despite him probably not being as big a "shoe-in" as the past two seasons, Lincecum was certainly deserving of the berth. As for Wilson, I've been harping that he's been one of the league's best closers, and his numbers go beyond saves. In terms of FIP, he's the fourth-best reliever in the National League. That is a far cry from 2008, his previous All-Star season, when his FIP was 3.93.

However, there are some notable exceptions on this Giants roster. Aubrey Huff, Matt Cain, Andres Torres, and Juan Uribe are all names that deserved some All-Star attention, but didn't get the invite today. Unfortunately, it seems like any of them getting in is a long shot at this point. None of the Giants players listed are in the running for the fan "vote-in" (Heath Bell, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Billy Wagner, and Ryan Zimmerman were the final five candidates chosen).

So, which Giants players have beefs, and which ones probably aren't All-Star worthy? Let's break down each player's "candidacy."

Aubrey Huff
.290 average, 15 home runs, 47 RBI, .391 wOBA, 17.4 wRAA, 2.6 WAR.

Huff probably is the most legitimate All-Star out of all the Giants players snubbed. He is ranked behind only Joey Votto and Albert Pujols in terms of wOBA for NL first baseman, and his 17.4 wRAA is tied for fourth out of NL first basemen as well. In addition to his offensive skills, Huff has shown tremendous defensive ability (4.2 UZR/150 at first base; 7.5 UZR/150 in the outfield) and flexibility (he has started at first base, left and right field). Thus, it's no surprise Huff's WAR is 2.6, which values to about $10.4 million dollars, according to Fangraphs.

So, why isn't Huff an All-Star? He's coming off an atrocious year, and he is playing for a Giants roster that has made more noise for their pitching and LACK of offense. It's really unfair. Huff is doing what Adrian Gonzalez did a year ago, but while Gonzalez has gotten the respect, Huff's incredible first half has been swept under the rug by the fans, players and of course, Charlie "I hate the Giants players" Manuel.

To illustrate my point that Huff is an All-Star-caliber player this year? He has a higher wOBA than All-Star first base reserves Gonzalez (.386) and Ryan Howard (.367). And, Huff's WAR is almost one and a half points better than Howard's (1.3).

Did Huff Get Snubbed?
Huff deserved an All-Star berth, but this system for first basemen is flawed to begin with. The fact that Joey Votto didn't make the roster is a travesty. Huff, unfortunately, is a victim at a position where fans, players and managers value big flies and hype more than actual overall performance.

Matt Cain
6-7 record, 2.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3.60 FIP, 2.1 WAR.

Cain was an All-Star last year, and his year this season has been pretty similar to his 2009. He still has been pretty lucky (.262 BABIP) and his high xFIP (4.70) suggest that he may be due for a tough stretch sometime soon, but Cain has still been solid as the Giants' second-best pitcher behind Lincecum. Cain has showed improved control (2.93 BB/9, the first time it's been under three in his career), and he has already thrown almost as many complete games (three) as last season (four).

The main difference between Cain of this season and Cain of last year has been the record. Last year, Cain went 10-2 in the first half of the season, and it seemed to ride him into an All-Star berth. Don't believe the record has any effect? Look at Ubaldo Jimenez, who's advanced numbers are actually LESS impressive than a season ago. What has gotten him into the All-Star game? His 14-1 record trumps his 6-9 record in the first half a season ago.

Much like Jimenez isn't a better pitcher than he was a year ago (though he certainly should have gotten more credit), Cain isn't much WORSE a pitcher in 2010 in comparison to 2009. It's just that the run support hasn't been great (typical for Cain) and he hasn't gotten as lucky.

Did Cain Get Snubbed?
The problem with Cain is that he may have not been an All-Star caliber pitcher last year if not for his 10-2 record. He doesn't have great strikeout stuff, and his BABIP shows that he has been lucky this year (though his 76.4 LOB percentage suggests he hasn't been as lucky as 2009, when his LOB percentage wasn't under 83 percent for the first three months of play). Cain is a very good pitcher, don't get me wrong. But is he an All-Star like Lincecum based on the numbers? That might be harder to prove, especially when Cain isn't ranked in the Top-15 of NL Starting Pitchers in terms of FIP.

Andres Torres
.275 average, .819 OPS, 15 stolen bases, .370 wOBA, 11.0 UZR, 3.0 WAR.

Torres would have been a great story for the All-Star team. The 33-year old journeyman who went from poor, free swinging slap hitter with the Detroit Tigers to patient, speedy hitter with pop to the Giants. Torres has all the credentials of an All-Star candidate: great speed (15 stolen bases on 18 attempts), great defense (27.1 UZR/150), excellent run generation (10 wRAA), and plate patience (0.68 BB/K ratio).

Unfortunately, the powers that be felt Michael Bourn and his .319 wOBA was a better candidate in the outfield (seriously, I hate this "Every team needs one All-Star" rule; the Fresno Grizzlies have more All-Star candidates than the Houston Astros).

Torres can certainly rank up there with the best outfielders in the National League. However, Torres unfortunately plays at a position where the talent level is very deep. Torres' wOBA ranks him 12th out of NL outfielders. Fellow All-Star Snubs like Andrew McCutchen and Colby Rasmus look to be far more enticing candidates than Torres, though Torres' defensive value does give him an edge (He has the second-best UZR out of NL outfielders).

Did Torres Get Snubbed?
When you look at him in terms of pre-season hype and offense alone? No. There are a lot better outfielders offensively than Torres (though that shouldn't take anything away from Torres' season). However, when you look at his defense, and add that with his offensive numbers? Torres looks a lot more like an All-Star-worthy player. Unfortunately, it's offense, not defense and overall value that generate hype for an All-Star berth, and that killed Torres' chances before it could get started.

Juan Uribe
.256 average, 12 HR, .335 wOBA, 2.6 wRAA, 1.6 WAR.

Would you believe me if I told you that Uribe, going into today, was the third-best shortstop in terms of wOBA? Would you believe me if I told you that Uribe has been better offensively than Jose Reyes, who made the All-Star team, and Uribe's higher wOBA and wRAA prove it?

Well, it's the truth, and though he has cooled recently, Uribe still could make an argument that he has been one of the National League's better shortstops this season. Uribe has hit with some surprising pop (12 home runs) and he has done this despite his BABIP (.262) being shockingly low (the league average is .299 and his BABIP last year was .325).

Did Uribe Get Snubbed?
I love Uribe, but no. He didn't. The National League shortstop position is shockingly shallow in terms of talent beyond Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez. Uribe is simply the best of a rather mediocre bunch. Furthermore, Uribe's minus-6.6 UZR/150 at shortstop this year has killed any overall value he might have, and despite a high BB/K ratio (0.57), he has swung at more pitches outside the strike zone this year (32.2 percent in comparison to 31 percent last year) and has a higher whiff percentage in 2010 (12.2 percent) than in 2009 (11.5 percent). Uribe is a solid utility infielder to have, but he's no All-Star.


  1. Thanks Big D! And thanks for the shot out on your blog! Appreciate it man.

  2. Very nice post. I think Uribe cooled off big time recently which is what really hurt his chances. Huff should have made it as an outfielder.

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