Congratulations to Wade Miley, who will be representing the Diamondbacks at this year's All-Star Game in Kansas City. It's a well-deserved selection, with Miley being the best starting pitcher on the team this year. Even after yesterday's implosion, he still has a 2.87 ERA to go along with his 9-4 record. However, just as big a talking point is the likely exclusion of Aaron Hill, who has easily been the best second-baseman in the National League through the end of June. He has been relegated to the Final Vote. If you are still thinking, "But Hill has a chance, doesn't he?" - given he's facing Bryce Harper... well, that's a clown question, bro'.
Here are the stats for Aaron Hill and the other second-basemen who were selected to the National League roster: Dan Uggla was voted in as a starter, while Jose Altuve was selected as an alternate. voted in by NL staff (hat-tip to Amit for that info).
Really, this is an egregious omission. The only thing I can think of that might explain it is the timing of Hill's surge. Obviously, a lot of the fan voting takes place early in the year - that began all the way back on April 20th, only a couple of weeks into the season. This is quite insane: there is absolutely no way you can tell who the best players in the league are, based on 50 or so at-bats: if I was commissioner, I'd not open voting until the start of June. I'm not sure when the players, coaches and managers get to vote, but I imagine the voting for them closed quite a while ago as well.
The problem for Hill is, his number have only surged recently. As late as June 8, barely three weeks ago, he was batting .265/.336/.431, for a respectable, but not awe-inspiring .768 OPS. At that same point, Uggla's stats were a far superior .266/.384/.473, an .857 OPS, and Altuve's triple-slash numbers were also better than Hill, hitting .325 with an .836 OPS. Sure, over the past three weeks, Hill has been hitting like a supernova, batting .400 (30-for-75), with five home-runs and a 1.179 OPS, which has taken him past both his rivals. But if fans or players had voted prior to that point, the selection of Uggla or Altuve would certainly have made sense.
The same is possibly the case for Paul Goldschmidt. Can't really complain about the starting spot given to Votto by the fans, as there's no doubt he has been the best first-baseman in the league, virtually since opening day. Hitting .350 with 14 home-runs? Yeah, fair enough. The selection of LaHair over Goldschmidt seems a bit less certain, if you look at their overall numbers to date. As above, here are the stats for the two who will be going to Kansas City, as well as Goldzilla.
However, Goldschmidt's OPS has only very recently surpassed LaHair's. And, by very recently, I mean "Thursday night". The change is as much due to Paul's recent output at the plate, as a lack of the same from Bryan. Again, if we draw a line at June 8, LaHair has only hit .186 since then, with a .534 OPS. Goldschmidt over the same time has a line of .293/.382/.569, for a .951 OPS, which has allowed him to close the 83 point OPS gap, present in LaHair's favor on that date.
While there may be a perception that recent performances can be decisive in selecting All-Stars [sorry, shoe - you knew I had to mention this!], it does seem to be more the case that the process in 2011 was largely complete, and the participants decided, by the middle of June. The problem for both Goldschmidt and Hill was not that they weren't good enough to take part - it's more that weren't good enough early enough to take part.