CHICAGO – Major League Baseball, in conjunction with ESPN, will announce the rosters for the 2014 All-Star Game before the Sunday night game.
The Mariners know they will have at least two participants for the midsummer classic that’s being played at Target Field in Minneapolis.
In the latest release from MLB on June 30, Robinson Cano was the leading vote-getter at second base with 2,474,924. Ian Kinsler was second at 1,603,185 and Dustin Pedroia third with 1,477,800. With the voting ending on Thursday night, and barring an unexpected, late surge of votes, Cano will be the starting second baseman for the American League. It will be the fifth time he’s earned such an honor.
And while fans can’t vote on pitchers for the game, there is no way that Red Sox manager John Farrell or the players vote would keep Felix Hernandez off the team. The Mariners ace has not only been All-Star worthy with a 10-2 record and 2.10 earned-run average in 18 starts, but he should be the leading candidate to start the game for the A.L.
But the question remains: Should the Mariners have more than those two players on the 34-man A.L. roster?
The last time Seattle placed three players on an A.L. All-Star team was in 2011 in Phoenix when Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Brandon League were selected. The last time Seattle had more than three All-Stars was in 2003 with Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone, Jamie Moyer and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
There could be a very strong case made for closer Fernando Rodney and third baseman Kyle Seager.
Rodney, who made the All-Star team in 2012, leads the A.L. in saves with 24. He has a 2.16 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 331/3 innings. After a few early season adventures with walks and tense moments, the Rodney roller-coaster ride has turned into a ferris wheel of consistency.
In his past 18 appearances, Rodney has picked up 13 saves and has allowed just two earned runs in 17 innings with 16 strikeouts.
Is it All-Star worthy?
“I don’t see why not,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said a few days ago. “He’s done a tremendous job, as well as Seager.”
Ah, yes, Seager. The Mariners third baseman has been outstanding this season. But he’s been completely overlooked by fan voters.
In the most recent voting released by MLB, Seager didn’t even register in the top five third basemen getting votes.
The top vote-getter was Josh Donaldson of the A’s, who was running away with the competition, garnering 2,943,332 votes. Adrian Beltre was second with 1,730,748 and Evan Longoria was third with 1,457,752. Even Manny Machado and Brett Lawrie had more votes.
Seager won’t start, but he should be in consideration by Farrell and his fellow players to be a reserve. The numbers prove it. Seager ranks second among A.L. third basemen in batting average (.283), on-base plus slugging percentage (.855), home runs (13) and runs batted in (59). His 37 extra-base hits are the most among the group.
“I think he should have strong consideration,” McClendon said.
“You could argue his numbers are as good as any third baseman in the league. But listen, everybody can’t play in that game. It’s just the way it is.”
Unfortunately, McClendon is right.
The rule of each team needing to be represented could hurt Rodney and Seager. The hapless Rays don’t have a better candidate than Longoria. Meanwhile, Farrell’s own team – the Red Sox – doesn’t have a lot of candidates beyond David Ortiz and Jon Lester. There’s a good chance he will consider his closer, Koji Uehara, for the team. And Kansas City’s Greg Holland seems likely to be on the team.
The other option is the fan voting for the final spot on the 34-man roster. It’s something MLB started in 2010. They select a group of five candidates that fans vote on for the last spot. The Mariners have never had a player in the MLB-selected, five-player group for “last man” vote despite having deserving candidates. There’s a good chance that either Seager or Rodney could fall into that group.