Believe it or not, the All-Star game is just over one month away. Last season, Josh Harrison was the lone representative from the Pittsburgh Pirates to play in the Mid-Summer Classic. It was the first time since 2010 that the Pirates didn’t have multiple All-Stars. Will that be the case once again this season?
The All-Star Game is meaningless. As it should be. It no longer determines home field advantage in the World Series. Thank god.
Nevertheless, it is a fun event and gives players a breather in the heat of summer. This year, the All-Star Game will be played in Washington DC. Today, the first round of fan votes to determine starters were released.
Obviously, no Pirate will be voted in as a starter. Andrew McCutchen is the last Pirate to start an All-Star Game. He accomplished that feat in both 2014 and 2015. Francisco Cervelli has a slight chance, but upending five-time All-Star and four-time starter Buster Posey would be an extremely tall task.
What Pirates can potentially make the All-Star Game? One thing is certain.
It won’t be a pitcher.
Lock it in
At the moment, there is little doubt that Cervelli will appear in his first career All-Star Game. He has clearly been the Pirates most valuable player this season. Cervelli leads both the Pirates and all catchers in baseball with a 2.3 fWAR. He also lead all catchers in wRC+ at 146. His nine home runs are currently second in the NL among catchers.
The only thing concerning with Cervelli’s All-Star candidacy is the competition in the National League. Along with Cervelli and Posey, Wilson Contreras, J.T. Realmuto, and Yasmani Grandal would all be deserving participants.
Typically, an All-Star team carries two or three catchers. Three will be necessary in the NL this season. I fully expect Cervelli to be one of those three, especially if the Pirates only end up with one representative.
On the bubble
Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson could be All-Stars this season but they are definitely not locks. In my opinion, both are on the outside looking in at the moment.
Marte has a 1.6 fWAR, eighth among NL outfielders. Dickerson is at 1.5, good for 13th. Right now, both of these players are solid hitters with average power and not nearly enough walks. Dickerson is batting .319/.352/.480 with five home runs and a walk rate of 4.5 percent. Marte is hitting .280/.338/.454 with seven home runs and a career high 7.9 percent walk rate.
With a combination of slightly better production and the usual injuries to other players, I could see one of these two sneaking in.
Austin Meadows. Yes, really. Since his call up on May 18, Meadows is hitting .356/.385/.671 with five home runs in 78 plate appearances. He also has three steals. His wRC+ of 181 is fifth among NL players since his call up (minimum 75 PA).
If Meadows stays hot like he has, there’s a possibility that he could find his way to the All-Star Game. Last season, Cody Bellinger made his major league debut on April 25. 25 home runs later, he was an All-Star. Bellinger was hitting .261/.342/.619 with a 144 wRC+ at the time.
Meadows certainly won’t have 25 home runs by the All-Star break. But if he is hitting something like .330/.370/.600 with 10 or so home runs come the middle of July, don’t rule it out.
At the end of the day…
I think the Pirates will end up with two All-Stars this year. Cervelli will be one. Dickerson or Marte will be the other. Meadows will continue to produce but will ultimately miss the cut having played few too many games. Even Bellinger last season had a three week head start on Meadows this season in terms of call up date.
Two All-Stars it is.
No starters. No pitchers.
Take it to the bank.