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MLB All-Star Game 2013: The Evan Longoria Snub

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Some fun with WAR.

J. Meric

Ignore for a moment the fact that we probably don't want Evan Longoria playing in the all-star game. Ignore the fact that his foot could use the time off, and that if selected, the Rays may have insisted that he not play. The all-star game is not about winning the World Series, it's about respect.

I thought that the Rays had achieved respect, and maybe they have. Jim Leyland picked Ben Zobrist as an all-star, a clear nod to his positional flexibility and all-around excellence. Zobrist has been underrated for years, and he's one of the main reasons the Rays have been the second winningest team from 2008 to the present. He barely cracked the fan voting lists, but Leyland recognized how good he is.

And while Rays pitchers are usually a fair bet to be all-stars, 2013 is clearly an off year. David Price pitched below his level and then missed time. Alex Cobb was pitching great, but now he's out with an injury as well.

Evan Longoria, despite his struggles with planar fasciitis, has not missed time. He's played through the pain, and he's been, by fWAR, the fifth best player in the American League. I know why he was left off the roster. Miguel Cabrera is hitting well enough that it really doesn't matter whether he can play third base or not. You could put him at shortstop and his bat would make it worth your while. Manny Machado is young, fun, and having a great season. He should be at shortstop, but the Orioles happen to also have J.J. Hardy (all-star?) so Machado bides his time on the hot corner. All of this goes to say that there are good reasons for Longo not to be starting American League third baseman. But there's no excuse, other than lack of respect, for him not to be tagged for the bench, or even included in the final vote.

Longoria has put up 4.2 fWAR. The hitters on the AL all-star team average 2.9 fWAR. That's a difference of 1.3 fWAR.

Now what would happen if you had a team composed entirely of hitters that were the difference between Longoria and the rest of the "all-stars?" They would have accumulated, to this point, 11.9 fWAR. That's better than all but seven AL teams, including the Rangers, Yankees, and Blue Jays.

Subtract an average "all-star" from Longoria, and you'd still have a player better than Prince Fielder or Torii Hunter, and only decimal places worse than Nelson Cruz, Salvador Perez, and Adam Jones (each of them "all-stars").

Compose a team entirely of the Longo-"all-star" Frankenstein monster, and you'd contend in the American League West.

Now I know we Rays fans should be happy that Longoria will be getting the rest, but if Evan Longoria isn't an all-star in his best season ever, the chip still belongs on our shoulder.