WASHINGTON, DC - Catcher Wilson Ramos #3 of the Washington Nationals waits for the throw as Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates scores during the second inning.. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
A look at why people take snubs of the All-Star Game so seriously, focusing on Andrew McCutchen.
The All-Star game is an exhibition. People tend to take it so danged seriously. Other than the whole home-field advantage thing, it doesn't mean a thing. Grow up, people.
So with that, here's why Andrew McCutchen not making the All-Star Game would have been the biggest travesty in the history of baseball:
It's not because he would have had the highest WAR (third overall in baseball!) of anyone not going to the All-Star Game. I like WAR as a handy-dandy, catch-all number. It's easy to plug WAR into the Baseball Reference Play Index and get at least some idea of who the top players were in a given year, which is harder to do with any other single stat. But it's not the kind of stat you should use to beat people over the head with. A substantial chunk of McCutchen's stellar WAR comes from his defense, as tallied by UZR. That's the same stat that hated McCutchen's defense in 2010. I'm not ready for "but look at the WAR he's accumulated in three months!" as an irrefutable argument yet.
And I wouldn't have been upset that McCutchen didn't make the team because I have a soft spot in my heart for the Pirates. That team has been so bad for so long, and they're finally enjoying a season that their fans have deserved for a while. The Pirates are honest-to-goodness contending. That's the reward. McCutchen making the All-Star team is a footnote to the larger story. His not making the team wouldn't have changed the beautiful surprise of a Pirates team looking for a division title.
I'm not overly upset that someone who has direct influence on my favorite team's day-to-day operations -- Bruce Bochy -- didn't think that McCutchen was even worthy of one of the five "Final Vote" slots. He spent hours and hours poring over his ideal roster and McCutchen didn't even crack his five-deep list of also-rans, which is sort of a direct and unsettling reflection of how he evaluates talent. That's not what really upsets me.
Though that's pretty disturbing, actually.
No, McCutchen not making the All-Star Game would have the biggest travesty in the history of baseball because I like watching him play baseball. He's on a short list of the players in baseball I go out of my way to watch every chance I get. And I'm watching the All-Star Game. If he weren't named as a replacement, that would have meant that I got to watch less Andrew McCutchen. He glides in the outfield, zipping after long fly balls like a waterbug. He's fast enough to make you think triple on every ball hit in the gap. He hits for power. He's the prototype, the blueprint you sketch out when you're trying to build the perfect center fielder.
Also, I like watching Andrew McCutchen play baseball.
It's an exhibition. It doesn't mean anything. But I would have sulked if I didn't get to watch Andrew McCutchen. That's the real reason why people should take selections and snubs so seriously. Some players just make the game better. The All-Star Game is all about watching the players you want to watch. My top guy is McCutchen -- yours is probably someone different. And when they don't make the team, it's a travesty. The worst in baseball history until the next one.