Every year, deserving players do not make the cut to play in the All-Star Game. Looking at this year’s lineup of the missing, a common theme is the lack of great play from last year, which, unfortunately, gave them less name recognition in the voting/selection process in 2012.
Johan Santana – Has the misfortune of being on the same team (New York Mets) as break-out sensation R.A. Dickey. He is a threat for 200 strikeouts and has a very respectable 2.76 ERA. Despite these accomplishments, for the past few years, he has had a very close win-to-loss record, 13-9 in 2009, 11-9 in 2010, and 6-4 so far this year. It was not pitching last year, though, that did the most damage to his chances of being introduced as an All-Star on July 10.
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Edwin Encarnacion – In terms of position players, might be the most underrated of them all. It was one thing not to select the Toronto Blue Jays player for the All-Star Game, but to have Prince Fielder play instead is absolutely ridiculous. Their power numbers this year don’t even compare: Fielder with his 12 dingers, Encarnacion with 22. Encarnacion also leads in RBIs, runs, and, unsurprisingly, far outdistances Fielder in stolen bases. Maybe it was because last year he had only 17 homers, maybe it is because, like Santana, he is overshadowed by another teammate, Jose Bautista. Regardless, Encarnacion should be the one being introduced to play first base for the A.L. squad on July 10.
A.J. Pierzynski – A huge factor in the lead the Chicago White Sox have in the A.L. Central Division. Yet, he does not get an invite because superior stats are not enough of a factor in All-Star selections. Mike Napoli, who started out red-hot but has slowed dramatically, is the chosen one to start behind the plate for the A.L. It does not matter that Pierzynski has slightly better power numbers (15 home runs) and a far higher average. Nor do many seem to care that Pierzynski has over 50 percent more RBIs. Like the others on this list, it is 2011 keeping the White Sox catcher from receiving his due in 2012. Last year, he only had eight home runs and 48 RBIs. If Pierzynski can continue his strong play into the first half of the 2013 season, then maybe, just maybe, people will recognize he exists. The only way to be sure, though, is if he hits four game-winning home runs in a White Sox sweep of this year’s World Series.