Written By Tom Schreier (ZoneCoverage.com)
Photo Credit: Brian Curski
There’s probably a flaw in the All-Star voting system when the Minnesota Twins, in competition for the best record in the American League, only have two representatives right now.
Jorge Polanco, with his .321/.380/.525 line and strong defense at shortstop is deserving, as is Jake Odorizzi with his 2.73 ERA, 1.074 WHIP and 3.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But there’s a case to be made for Max Kepler (.269/.344/.548, 21 home runs), Byron Buxton (.261/.319/.517 and incredible defense in center), Jose Berrios (2.89 ERA, 1.080 WHIP and a 5.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and Taylor Rogers (1.98 ERA, 1.046 WHIP and a 6.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio).
Additionally, C.J. Cron (25%), Eddie Rosario (8.9%) and Nelson Cruz (22%) received votes in the second round of balloting.
So when Odorizzi walked out of the clubhouse doors as the only All-Star other than Polanco, it came as a bit of a surprise.
“I am, yes,” he said when asked if he was surprised. “The other guys I’m sure would probably agree.
“It’s been pretty well publicized this year how well our offense has done, and to only have one guy out of that record-breaking offense [is wrong],” he added. “Not to single somebody out and take away from anybody else, the fact that Kepler isn’t an All-Star, with his top three or four in the league in just about every category besides average, and what he’s meant to this team, that’s the one that’s a real head-scratcher.”
The Twins never had more than three All-Stars during their best years from 2002-10. Even in the lean years they had two or three All-Stars, so in an environment when the Twins are competing with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros for the best record in the A.L., and there are plenty of bad teams in the junior circuit, this is disappointing for the team.
“There’s a lot of deserving guys in our locker room that should be coming along too,” said Odorizzi. “Hopefully they get the chance between now and then. But as a starting pitcher, it takes eight other guys and a whole locker room of support to get me to this point to be pretty candid. Relievers come in to do their job after me. Defense. Offense. Training staff.”
But it’s also kind of a compliment in disguise. The Twins have been good because different players step up on different nights. It’s their depth, a combination of their young core and free agent acquisitions in the offseason, that has propelled them on a path to the playoffs this year.
“That’s what good teams do,” said Odorizzi. “Your main guys aren’t going to carry your entire season. You have to have everybody do their part on a daily basis.”
“I’m a little surprised. This team has been playing really well, and I think we have a lot of good teammates that deserve to be in the All-Star Game, too,” echoed Polanco, adding that the well-rounded offense makes it difficult for players to be singled out in All-Star voting.
“It makes it a difficult decision. Like you said, there’s a lot of guys doing well, but I still think we have good players that deserve to be in.”
After years of losing, with a few .500 seasons sprinkled in, the Twins are not only trying to regain trust with their fanbase, but also capture the attention of Major League Baseball as a whole. Their powerful offense has helped their cause, as has the Berrios-Odorizzi one-two punch at the top of their rotation. But with every team receiving an All-Star by rule, and plenty of superstars on Yankees, Astros and the other playoff-bound A.L. teams, there’s only so much room.
Minnesota has had a great season so far, but it usually takes a year for people around baseball to acknowledge a team as deserving as having more than three All-Stars — even though this team probably does.