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Who should be the D-backs’ All-Star representative?

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In advance of this afternoon’s announcement, let’s review the options

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

To be perfectly honest, by any objective measurement, the team really does not deserve anyone to play in the All-Star Game at Coors Field in a couple of weeks. If we use bWAR as a metric, the team’s best position player is Carson Kelly, who ranks a mere 35th in the National League with 1.8 bWAR. He is a) injured, and b) is only tied for fourth among NL catchers, behind Wllson Contreras, Omar Narvaez and Buster Posey. For pitchers, the situation is equally dire, if not more so. Ther just a single man to have posted more than one win above replacement, and that is Caleb Smith at 1.5 bWAR. If we limit it to relievers (80% of appearances in relief), it’s Taylor Clarke at 0.5 bWAR.

The cold fact is, there’s hardly anyone from the 2021 Diamondbacks who are in the top thirty at any of those categories. But the rules state that each team will be represented, so there is someone who will be deemed Arizona’s All-Star for 2021. Even in previously sucky seasons such as 2004, Randy Johnson was an easy and obvious choice, with a 2.99 ERA at the break. This year? Not so much. It’s hardly a stretch to call this the most underwhelming selection of options in franchise history. But let’s list the potential candidates, for in the immortal words of Connor MacLeod, “There can be only one.”

Eduardo Escobar

Current line: .249/.296/.472 = .769 OPS, 107 OPS+, 1.5 bWAR. The raw numbers here are perhaps the most eye-catching, with Escobar being tied for fifth in home-runs, and fourth in RBI. There’s likely more name recognition here than any of the other candidates too. Escobar being an eleven-year veteran, with over 4,000 PAs to his name. But there are at least six players at the hot corner who have put up more bWAR, and there will probably be no more than three spots available. It would seem quite rate for a player with an on-base percentage below .300 (Escobar sits at just .296) to be named an All-Star, though with offense are historic lows this season, anything is possible.

Josh Rojas

Current line: .251/.326/.425 = .751 OPS, 105 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR. Perhaps the sentimental favorite among Arizona fans, Rojas was the selection of Sports Illustrated’s Nick Selbe, when he assembled his full roster for the NL. Josh’s positional flexibility appears to have helped there, Selbe stating Rojas “would serve as more of a utilityman than strictly a second baseman.” That he is even in the conversation is quite impressive, considering he had only 58 career MLB games before this season. But as injuries have taken their toll, Rojas has stepped up into an everyday role, with only Escobar and P. Smith seeing more playing time. His OPS+ may be only marginally above average, but in a year like this, we’ll take it.

Caleb Smith

Current line: 25 G, 7 GS. 64.1 IP, 3.08 ERA. 75:33 K:BB. 1.5 bWAR. Ok, so who had Caleb as Arizona’s best pitcher in the first half? Especially considering he was removed from the rotation after only one start. But he took the change in stride, and posted a 2.70 ERA over thirty innings of relief, which got him a return to starting. And over his six starts in June, he had a 2.78 ERA, despite going 0-3. Only Merrill Kelly has thrown more innings than Smith to this point, and having proved his value both in starting and as a reliever, there is a good case to be made for him being the team’s MVP in the first half. It would, however, be a real shock if he made it to the All-Star roster in the most pitching-heavy season most of us can remember.

Pavin Smith

Current line: .266/.319/.410 = .728 OPS, 99 OPS+, 0.4 bWAR. The light has dimmed significantly on Pavin, since I wrote about him just over a month ago. At that point, he seemed to have a shot at being only Arizona’s third rookie position player to post a three bWAR season. But in another example of the SnakePit curse, Smith has put up an OPS of only .554 since that article, and his overall value has been significantly below replacement. He does get points for flexibility, starting at all three outfield positions, as well as at first-base, and for durability. Considering he was not expected to be an everyday player, that’s worth something. But even as he’s tied for the lead in NL rookie hits, he no longer seems in award consideration.

Overall, I’m thinking Escobar is probably most likely, because HR and RBI still “matter” more than other stats, and he has done well there. But we’ll find out later this afternoon.

Poll

Who should be the D-backs All-Star rep?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Eduardo Escobar
    (39 votes)
  • 16%
    Josh Rojas
    (16 votes)
  • 12%
    Caleb Smith
    (12 votes)
  • 8%
    Pavin Smoth
    (8 votes)
  • 21%
    None of the above
    (21 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now