MLB has plenty of rules regarding All-Star Game participation, but it's never too late to invent another one! Maybe something like ... I don't know ... "If the best option for a backup second baseman is a mediocre Toronto Blue Jays utility player, maybe just pick an extra shortstop instead"?
Rays superstar Wander Franco, third in MLB in WAR but somehow out of the All-Star mix, probably viscerally shuddered when the AL All-Star roster was announced with Whit Merrifield installed by the players as the team's backup second baseman behind Marcus Semien of the Rangers.
The 34-year-old Merrifield was judged to be an All-Star by a jury of his peers ... or, at least, that's what MLB is claiming. It's a bit odd that Merrifield was an undeserving finalist in the fan vote, then named an undeserving All-Star, but ... the second base pool really is quite shallow. It's not completely shocking they'd nod their heads at Merrifield's .282 average and 18 stolen bases while looking the other way on his two homers and .700 OPS.
If nobody's wading into that pool, though ... what about ... Gleyber Torres? Torres' star has been diminished since he became a two-time All-Star in his first two years in MLB, socking 38 home runs in his sophomore campaign in 2019. He rebounded somewhat in 2022, failing to reach the same heights as three years prior, but wrapping the season with 24 homers and a 115 OPS+ despite an August swoon. This year, he's been ... worse, posting a 104 OPS+ and .737 mark, but hey, that's still more impressive than Merrifield. And, again ... shallow pool.
Aaron Boone knows best how well Torres reacts to praise, and the Yankees' manager played one of his iconic cards before Sunday's game, advocating for his second baseman's inclusion on the All-Star roster. Torres didn't make the first wave and likely won't make the second and third, either, but there's always a chance.
Yankees' Gleyber Torres deserves an All-Star spot in 2023?
There was a time when it appeared Anthony Rizzo would make the roster, too, before fellow snub Fernando Tatis Jr. knocked his head off his neck and induced an historic slump. Rizzo has rebounded somewhat (.267, 118 OPS+), but we didn't think he'd done enough to knock off Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor. Turns out, Naylor didn't do enough, either. He's also been snubbed.
Every season feels like it could be Torres' last in the Bronx, and it would've been nice to see him reach All-Star heights one more time in pinstripes. Unfortunately, even at the game's weakest position, it's tough to argue for Torres' inclusion. That says a lot.
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