MLB All-Star Audit: Are the Right Players In?

The 2022 MLB All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, July 2019 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Now that rosters are out, it’s time to ask if all the right guys are included as “All-Stars”. Now of course there’s the MLB rule that every team needs a representative, so that will skew who is an All-Star, but whether or not that should be a rule is another argument.

Starting Pitchers

I’ve kept track of a stat I’m calling Pitcher Score all year. This stat gives a pitcher a number from 0-100 based on each outing. The average MLB start is a 70. This score is determined by expected statistics like xwOBA and expected run differential after each pitch.

Below we see the National League Leaders in Pitcher Score. The dark blue represents selected All-Stars for this year’s game.

The NL is almost spot on with the top starting pitchers, Zack Wheeler instead of Luis Castillo, but Castillo is the lone Red in the game, so this is the “every team needs someone” rule.

As for the AL starting pitchers, Gerrit Cole is a bit lower than the others selected, and the biggest outlier isn’t even on this list. That would be Paul Blackburn with an average score of 69.26! He’s the lone Oakland Athletic in the game and I’d argue the wrong one. Frankie Montas does make the list with a 72.60 average score. He should probably be in Blackburn’s spot.


How do we best measure hitters? I’m going to use a combination of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) from Fangraphs and Delta Run Expectancy (change in probability of scoring a run from before an at bat to after). You’ll see on the plot below where each of this year’s All-Star selections plot out.

First off, those two All-Stars (Red Dots) on the far left with a negative WAR, those are the “Legacy Selections” of Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, so that doesn’t really count, but I’ve highlighted them as they’ll be in the game.

The player on the top right (almost off the chart) is Paul Goldschmidt. What an incredible first half for him! The other three red dots up there are Rafael Devers, Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. We can see that the fans for the most part do a pretty good job selecting hitters, but I’ll still go through a few of the biggest so-called “snubs”.

This plot below is the same as the above, but notates who those biggest snubs are.

Freddie Freeman is by far the biggest snubs. His at bats resulted in 31.3 delta runs expectancy and he has a 3.7 WAR. Pretty absurd he was not selected. Also, I’m not sure what the rule for being an NL DH, but it should probably be used to include all the best players, ie. make Freddie the DH. No offense to William Contreras, but he has 1.7 WAR and only 5.08 delta runs expectancy.

Add Taylor Ward (Angels) , Brandon Nimmo (Mets) and Ty France (Mariners) to the list of snubs as well.

A few other changes I’d make to include the players with a better season thus far:

There’s always going to be “snubs”, but with a fan vote you’re going to get some players where the name gives an extra boost to who gets in. But in the end, the All-Star Game is a great way to celebrate and recognize the game and it should be a good one to watch!

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