The annual unveiling of the All-Star rosters contained a mixed bag of emotions for fans of the New York Mets. On the positive side, superstar Jacob deGrom was named as a member of the team. This is of little surprise for a player most consider to be the best pitcher in baseball. And possibly, one of the greatest in history.
However, news since been released that deGrom plans to skip the All-Star game in an effort to protect his arm and pitching routine. While Mets’ fans can hardly blame the ace for putting the team success over a glorified exhibition contest, it is unfortunate we will not get to see him dominate against a lineup of the game’s best hitters.
One Lonely Mets Player
Adding to the negative is the fact that the Mets did not have another All-Star. This was a major surprise. The franchise, which has spent the majority of the season leading a very competitive NL East, seemed to have earned an additional roster spot.
MLB’s All-Star game is unique to the other major sports because they traditionally name at least one representative from each of the 30 teams. This means that the first place Mets have the same number of players as the last-place Marlins, Pirates, and Diamondbacks.
New York was deserving of better.
The Walker Caveat
News recently broke that MLB has named a replacement for deGrom’s spot. Mets’ teammate Taijuan Walker was subsequently named as his replacement.
While I am thrilled to see a player from Flushing representing the National League (particularly a player like Walker who has turned a career year into his first All-Star honors), I still argue the franchise was deserving of multiple All-Star berths.
With Walker in, there is one snubbed player with the best case…
New York closer Edwin Diaz was deserving of a spot on this illustrious team. Despite a disastrous first season in Queens, Diaz has steadied his career and re-established himself as one of the few go-to closers in the league. He has been an incredibly valuable piece for a Mets depth chart devastated by injuries during the first half of the season.
Swiss Army knife Seth Lugo missed a considerable portion of the early season, while Jeurys Familia also struggled with injuries. Without Diaz, it would be fair to wonder if the Mets could have maintained their first-place status. He has been critically important.
In addition to the role importance, Diaz also has All-Star caliber statistics this season. He currently sports a 2.94 ERA, 45 strikeouts, and 18 saves (which ranks 9th in MLB and 7th in the NL). In a league that increasingly values the long ball, Diaz is also the only player ranking top 25 in saves that has yet to surrender a single home run.
When you consider the fact that his resume is comparable to the likes of All-Stars Craig Kimbrel and Alex Reyes (both of whom have also had stellar seasons), the fact that Diaz’s Mets have found more success than both the Cubs (3rd in the NL Central) and the Cardinals (4th in the NL Central) give him a legitimate argument.
I am a firm believer that team success should be a major factor in the naming of All-Star rosters. After all, there is a good reason why teams like the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Astros, and Padres, all of whom pace the sport with 52+ wins, were each awarded at least four All-Star spots from their respective leagues. Winning matters!
I am excited to see Walker suit up on July 13th. However, considering the Mets’ consistent positioning despite their injury issues, I cannot help but feel as though the club was deserving of better.
After employing an offensive unit that was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, Diaz was the most deserving player donning blue and orange. It’s a shame he won’t receive an opportunity to rewrite his Mets’ narrative by staking claim to an All-Star berth.
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Do you believe the Mets were deserving of a second All-Star? And if so, would you champion Diaz?