Every year, there are going to be long lists of players that many around the baseball community didn’t get the recognition they deserved.
Strikeout artists, feared sluggers, shutdown relievers that missed a spot on the MLB All-Star rosters all hear their praises sung particularly after they’ve missed the cut for the teams.
And sometimes, there is a legitimate reason to be upset about their exclusion. Each team has to claim a spot, even if no one on their roster is having an All-Star-caliber season. Fan favorites win the votes to get starts when another player was more deserving.
But usually, it’s just a numbers game. There are only 32 spots on each team, and even with replacements earning positions on the squad later, there are many players that don’t make the teams despite having standout campaigns.
With the starters and reserves announced, we’re taking a look at some players that we felt deserve a spot on the All-Star teams in 2021. Some of these players might eventually be named to the American League and National League squads as replacement players, but for now, their plans are to watch the Midsummer Classic from home.
Here are 11 snubs we believe should have made the All-Star teams.
Chris Bassitt, SP, Athletics
Fellow Oakland starting pitcher Sean Manaea could have a case for this spot on the All-Snubs list, but we’re going with Bassitt, who has been a little bit more consistent start to start this season. The two starters have both helped to put the Athletics back in a position to make the playoffs if the season ended today as they’ve been about as dominant a one-two punch sa teams could ask for so far in 2021.
Of his 17 starts, only in four has Bassitt allowed more than two earned runs to cross the plate. He’s been striking out batters at a career-best 25.2 percent clip, walking batters only 6.2 percent of the time and holding opposing batters to just a .210 batting average. His 3.04 ERA has him ranked sixth among qualifiers in the American League this season and his nine wins are bested only by the Indians’ Aaron Civale. His 3.25 FIP shows that he’s not even the beneficiary of much luck and that he just has been that good so far this season.
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
Yes, he’s played in only 27 games. And sure, that is probably too small of a sample size to warrant an All-Star selection so his omission has some reasonable justification. But Mike Trout has played in just 36 and he was voted a starter, so Buxton deserves some recognition as when he was on the field, he was nothing short of dynamic.
Using a minimum of 100 plate appearances, Buxton’s 2.7 Fangraphs WAR (fWAR) has him ranked 23rd in all of baseball coming in ahead of several All-Stars like Jesse Winker, Matt Olson, Aaron Judge and, yes, even Trout. Buxton hit 10 home runs and stole five bases while posting a ridiculous .369/.409/.767 slash line. This has been the season Twins’ fans have waited for for years, and it’s a shame that injuries have kept him off the field as much as they have. Even if he couldn’t play in the game, it would have been fun to see Buxton earn a spot on the American League roster just to recognize his impressive 2021 start.
Edwin Diaz, RP, Mets
There is a long list of relievers that have a legitimate case to be All-Stars. But we’re going to go with maybe the hurler with the best case among them as a noteworthy omission. He’s been a shutdown closer for a playoff contender and has helped make sure the Mets hold onto leads late as they continue to lead the NL East.
Diaz has converted 17-of-18 save opportunities so far this season and has continued to build off a resurgent campaign last year. His strikeout rate is sitting at 33.1 percent, and while that is a decrease from 2020, he has drastically cut his walk rate down from 12.7 percent last year to just 8.1 percent this year. He also has yet to allow a home run in 31.2 innings of work, which has helped him maintain a 1.80 FIP, indicating his 2.84 ERA should likely be coming down even lower at some point. He has held hitters to just a .198 batting average as he’s been among the toughest relievers to get hits against.
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Rays
Glasnow would not be able to participate in the All-Star Game even if he was selected, as he’s currently on the injured list, but his recent injury is no reason to keep him from being named to the team for what he’s done in 2021. The Rays ace had been enjoying his best season to date before an elbow injury put him on the shelf.
The former top prospect has always shown the propensity to strike batters out. Now, he’s just doing everything else to go along with that. His 36.2 percent strikeout rate is the second-best of his career, his 7.9 percent walk rate is the second-lowest of his career, his 14.3 percent home run per flyball rate is the second-best of his career and he’s never held batters to a lower average than the .176 mark he’s pitched to this year. The result is a 2.66 ERA that is the fourth-lowest in the AL so far across 88 innings of work. Before getting hurt, he feels like someone that would have been in the conversation on whether to start the All-Star Game for the Junior Circuit.
Yuli Gurriel, 1B, Astros
Gurriel had a great season in 2019 before slumping in 2020 to just a 79 wRC+. He’s rebounded well in 2021, posting his best season in the majors to date with a 145 wRC+ and already 2.3 fWAR through 78 games this season. The 37-year-old first baseman might not have made the initial cut with teammates Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and Ryan Pressley, but he deserves to be headed to Denver.
Though he’s not exactly the stereotypical slugging first baseman, Gurriel has been one of the best bats at the position in the AL this season. He’s walking more than he strikes out with a 10.9 percent walk rate and 9.1 percent strikeout rate, helping him post a .322/.390/.495 slash line. Among qualifying first basemen in the AL, only All-Stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Olson and Jared Walsh have a higher OPS than his .884 number. And he still is launching enough home runs with 10 already this season.
Manny Machado, 3B, Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. has rightfully captured the scene in San Diego as the phenom shortstop has been one of the game’s most exciting talents, so it’s easy to forget when Manny Machado, who just consistently posts standout numbers. He hasn’t been quite up to his MVP numbers of 2020, but his 2.5 fWAR is second among NL third baseman so far this season as he’s continued to swing a hot bat and play his trademark plus defense.
Machado is doing a little bit of everything right this year. With nine stolen bases, he’s on track to post only his third season in the bigs with double-digit stolen bases. He’s already up to 15 home runs as well and has a .482 slugging percentage to go along with it as he has hit for power, even in spacious Petco Park. Machado has always been able to keep his strikeout rate low — his 16.7 percent strikeout rate this year is exactly at his career rate — but he’s now walking at his highest clip ever, taking a free pass in 11.7 percent of plate appearances.
Whit Merrifield, 2B, Royals
The stolen base is becoming somewhat of a lost art in baseball, but Merrifield is doing his best to keep that aspect of the game alive. He’s swiped 23 bases so far, already the third-most of his career behind only 34 in 2017 and 45 in 2018. He’s the only player in the majors with more than 20 this season. The Royals might not be having a memorable season, but Merrifield just keeps producing with consistency year after year.
Stolen bases aren’t the only trend in the game Merrifield bucks; he’s also notoriously difficult to strike out. He’s gone down on strikes only 12.7 percent of the time — his second-lowest of his career — and more than 10 percent lower than the league average of 23.8 percent. On top of that, he’s walking 7.2 percent of the time to post a .337 on-base percentage. Power isn’t exactly his calling card, but those who come to the ballpark will occasionally see him run into one as he’s already up to eight home runs in 83 games this year, which certainly puts him on track to hitting double-digits for the fourth time in his career.
Yoan Moncada, 3B, White Sox
Moncada’s numbers aren’t particularly flashy this year. There’s plenty of players with more than his five home runs. Many more have exceeded his total of two stolen bases. But Moncada has been one of the more complete players this season. His 2.7 fWAR is the highest among qualified position players to miss the All-Star Game and is higher than a number of starters.
Coming up through the minors, Moncada became one of the game’s top prospects for his power and speed combination. This year, it’s been his eye at the plate that has helped him pick up so much value. He’s walking at a career-best 15.8 percent, a rate that trails only Joey Gallo, Max Muncy, Juan Soto and Yandy Diaz. He has trimmed his strikeout rate down to a career-low 25.8 percent and is hitting at his second-highest average yet — .280 — to help him reach a career-best .403 on-base percentage. The only AL third basemen with a better wRC+ than his 129 are All-Stars Rafael Devers and Jose Ramirez.
Freddy Peralta, SP, Brewers
The National League this year is ridiculously deep with pitching, so it seemed only inevitable that there would be some top starting pitchers left out. Already with two from their rotation and another from the bullpen on the NL roster, the Brewers are clearly well represented, but Peralta also deserved a nod this year for what he has done quietly as the team’s No. 3 starting pitcher.
Peralta’s 2.23 ERA is the seventh-lowest in the National League among qualified starting pitchers and his 129 strikeouts are the fourth most. And so far, only Jacob deGrom is holding opposing hitters to a lower batting average at just .132 so far this season. With a walk rate of 11.5 percent and 9.7 percent HR/FB rate, he’s also been able to pitch out to a 3.09 FIP that indicates he should be able to maintain his success throughout the season. It might be a lot of Milwaukee pitching on the NL roster, but there’s no doubt Peralta belongs on the team with his teammates.
Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals
That deep NL pitching this season, so far, would keep Scherzer from extending his impressive streak of consecutive appearances on an All-Star roster. He’s been on seven straight dating back to 2013, and the numbers he’s posted thus far in 2021 certainly should have warranted him an eighth straight selection this year.
“Mad Max” is in the middle of his fifth straight season where he’s averaging more than 12 strikeouts-per-nine innings with a rate of 12.12, while this year he’s also brought his walk rate down to just 2.00 BB/9, the third-lowest of his 13-year career. More impressive has been that in his Hall of Fame career, during which time he has racked up three Cy Young Awards, he is currently at a 2.10 ERA, a mark that would be his lowest ever. Days away from his 38th birthday, Scherzer deserves the present of being named to yet another All-Star Game.
Justin Turner, Dodgers
The Dodgers always have several players worthy of inclusion, like Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen who also could make incredibly strong cases for being named All-Stars this year. But for Los Angeles this year, Turner in particular seemed deserving of a spot on the NL roster. After all, Turner has made just one All-Star appearance (2017) and has had a career worth several more than that.
Among qualified players, only Moncada has a higher fWAR among position players that missed the All-Star team this season than Turner and his 2.6 mark. The 36-year-old third baseman has been a force at the plate for the Dodgers, owning a .295/.388/.484 slash line with 13 home runs and 57 strikeouts to 39 walks. His 44.2 percent hard hit rate is the best of his career, according to Baseball Savant, as is his average exit velocity of 91 mph. Turner has been an All-Star caliber player just about every year he’s been in L.A., and in yet another standout campaign, he should be on the NL team.