Point/Counterpoint: Who should win the American League All-Star final vote?

BY DI STAFF | JULY 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Chris Sale

American League fans have a tough choice to make deciding who will take the 34th spot on the AL All-Star roster.  The five players in the final man vote are all very commendable pitchers including none other than current Chicago White Sox All-Star Chris Sale. The 25-year-old southpaw has four years of experience and was named to the AL All-Star team in 2012 and 2013.

Sale looks like the top contender to clinch the final spot. So far this season, he has posted an 8-1 record, along with striking out 96 opponents in 87.1 innings pitched. If it weren’t for a monthlong period on the disabled list, Sale would most likely be guaranteed a spot on this year’s roster. It is obvious that he hasn’t allowed his injury slow him down based on his performance so far on the mound.

As AL fans vote for the final spot, it is important to consider the positions and situations that all five remaining players will be put into during this years midsummer classic. All five final contenders are pitchers, and with Seattle starter Felix Hernandez most likely taking the hill for the American League, Sale will be put in primarily relief and set-up man positions. In the race for the final spot, Sale’s biggest competitor for the final spot is righty Garrett Richards of the Los Angeles Angels.

Between the two pitchers, Sale posts a better WHIP (.086), batting average against (.194), and ERA (2.16).

Sale’s performance this season is no fluke. He has been a consistent starter for the White Sox and in both 2012 and 2013 was candidate for the AL Cy Young Award.

AL fans will be sorry if they leave Sale off the roster for this year’s roster.

— by Erin Erickson

Garrett Richards

Because he is buried beneath bigger-name pitchers on his own staff, such as Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, not many casual fans came into this season knowing the name Garrett Richards. That is, until he started pitching like an All-Star.

Richards is sixth in the American League in ERA at 2.71, and all five of those in front of him were named to the All-Star team, as well as David Price and Jon Lester, who rank behind him.

Also, tied for 12th in innings pitched at 116.1, Richards is fifth in the American League in WHIP, and again, all players ranking ahead of him with more than 100 innings pitched are All-Stars — along with several more behind him.

In the Moneyball Era, which loves modern and in-depth statistical analysis, let’s again look at the numbers, this time with my personal favorite as they relate to pitchers: quality starts. A quality start is the measurement of which starting pitchers put their teams in the best position to win.

Richards is tied for third in the AL in quality starts with 14, and with a record of 10-2, his performance has been valuable to his team’s success.

All of the AL fan vote finalists are pitchers, which makes for a convenient comparison. Of the finalists, Richards has the most quality starts. If an All-Star isn’t who helps his team to win the most, then what is it?

Richards is easily the most deserving of the final vote.

— by Kyle Mann

Corey Kluber

Who is Corey Kluber? Not exactly a household name, I know, but he deserves your vote for the final spot on the AL All-Star team.

Chris Sale is a tier-one pitcher but has missed a month of play of this year, and let’s not forgot the second half of Kluber’s previous season.

Kluber was part of a pitching staff that carried the Cleveland Indians to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. He went 11-5 in what was in first full season in the big leagues.

This year, Kluber has been even better, standing out like a sore thumb on a pitching staff that is a sliver of what we saw last year. He has posted a 2.86 ERA, is tied for the most starts of any pitcher in the AL, and also has the fourth most strikeouts.

The unattractive number to voters is his record, which at 8-6 is not exactly mind-blowing. But make no mistake, Kluber has been straight-up dealing. In his last four starts, he’s posted an ERA of 1.09.

No other starting pitcher in Cleveland is playing even close to the same level. He is a big reason the Indians are only one game under .500 and still very much alive in the AL Central.

All-Star voting has a tendency to select the more popular players rather than necessarily the best performers.

The Indians may not be the most glamorous franchise, and Kluber may not be a glamorous player.

But the numbers show it. The man is an all-star pitcher and that’s all there is to it.

— by Charles Green

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