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My Biggest All-Star Snub

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Hint: it's not a Red Sox player.

I've been blogging about baseball for about five years now.  I started reading Rob Neyer and Baseball Prospectus religiously in about 2001.  That means since I've started paying attention to non-traditional stats, I've had plenty of time to be frustrated at the odd decisions made by fans, players, and managers for the All-Star Game rosters and have written many articles about my frustration.  After a few years of actively trying not to let the frustration get to me, I think I've actually succeeded, finally.  These All-Star selection shenanigans have achieved such a level of silliness that it's really tough for me to get all worked up to write an article about All-Star snubs anymore.  Forgive me if this isn't my most creative or passionate piece, but sometimes you do only need a hammer.

Take a look at these National League All-Star starting pitchers (I'm ignoring relievers for a variety of reasons, one being that if you want to win the game, you want more stud relievers) and some of their important 2009 numbers.  The list is initially sorted by the average of Fangraphs' and Statcorner's Wins Above Replacement, but you can click on any column header to sort by a different stat, instead.  Unnecessary commentary after the jump.

NL Starter K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 GB% ERA tERA xFIP FIP WAR
Tim Lincecum 10.5 2.2 4.7 .3 46% 2.23 2.24 2.72 1.96 4.9
*All-Star Snub* 10.3 1.7 5.9 .8 44% 2.95 2.71 2.65 2.48 3.9
Dan Haren 8.9 1.1 7.9 .9 43% 2.16 2.69 2.94 2.78 3.9
Josh Johnson 7.9 2.5 3.1 .5 53% 2.82 3.22 3.39 2.97 3.1
Joel Pineiro 3.6 1.0 3.6 .3 61% 3.39 2.94 3.86 3.05 2.9
Chad Billingsley 8.6 3.8 2.3 .6 43% 3.14 3.58 3.89 3.39 2.4
Ted Lilly 7.9 1.9 4.2 1.4 31% 3.32 3.22 4.00 3.90 2.4
Jason Marquis 4.1 2.9 1.4 .7 58% 3.61 3.86 4.36 4.11 2.0
Matt Cain 7.3 3.6 2.0 .9 36% 2.42 3.69 4.36 3.89 2.0
Johan Santana 8.8 3.0 3.0 1.2 32% 3.29 3.62 4.11 3.91 1.9

Tim Lincecum gets the Albert Pujols treatment here: He's good.  After that, Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez (my All-Star Snub, if you didn't figure it out already) are a Lincecum-sized stride above everybody else.  Both are striking out a lot of hitters, avoiding walks, and giving up home runs at a good, but not flukishly good, rate.  Ted Lilly is the only other NL All-Star starter with a K/BB ratio above 4.0, and he's allowed a ton of home runs.  Both tERA (which is tRA * .92 to convert onto the ERA scale) and FIP use raw home runs, which seems appropriate for a value metric.  But if you're looking to predict future ERA based on performance so far, I'd look at xFIP (or tRA*), which isn't as pretty for a lot of these guys, such as Joel Pineiro -- which number seems like more of a repeatable skill, the .3 HR/9 rate or the 3.6 K/9 rate?

Again, I just can't muster enough emotion to fill this article with outrage.  Javier Vazquez has been one of the best three pitchers in the National League so far this year, you can't really argue intelligently against that opinion, and yet he's not an All-Star.  Sometimes it's really just that simple.  There are probably some other guys who also have All-Star beefs -- with Ubaldo Jimenez leading the pack -- but it's not quite as cut and dried as with Javier Vazquez.  Frankly it's just silly that I'm writing this article.

References:

Hardball Times for xFIP
Statcorner for tRA and tRA WAR
Fangraphs for FIP, FIP WAR, and most other stats.