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MLB All-Star snubs at each position: Francisco Lindor, Luis Gil and more

Look, I know how these guys feel. Here at The Athletic, a handful of writers were chosen to wax poetic about the superstar players who made this year’s All-Star team. And the rest of us were left out, our rightful place on the roster outrageously overlooked due to some weird, overly complicated selection process.

We are the snubs. And we’re all in this together.

Here, then, is our non-all-star All-Star team, the most worthy players at each position who didn’t hear their names called Sunday night and were not — at least, so far — selected for the midsummer classic.

Note: Starting position players are selected via fan vote, and players vote for eight pitchers plus one backup at each position. The league selects the final few players to round out the rosters, ensuring every team has a representative.

Catcher

Patrick Bailey, San Francisco Giants

Neither league is carrying a third catcher this season (and it’s pretty easy to argue that each league picked the correct two guys behind the plate), but Bailey would have been a worthy addition (the league instead chose outfielder Heliot Ramos and ace Logan Webb as the Giants’ representatives). Throwing and framing metrics have Bailey as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and wRC+ puts him basically on par with Salvador Perez offensively. Bailey debuted just last year. He’s going to make an All-Star team at some point.

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First base

Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks

A word of advice for anyone trying to make an All-Star team: Try not to play in the same league, at the same position, as Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman. Those two were selected to their eighth All-Star teams this season. Walker has yet to make one. He has the third-most homers in the NL (behind All-Star DHs Shohei Ohtani and Marcell Ozuna), and he ranks 10th in the NL in wRC+ (but that’s still behind both Harper and Freeman). Walker could still make the team if Harper’s hamstring strain keeps him out of the All-Star Game, but the Phillies seem to expect Harper to return this week.

Second base

Brice Turang, Milwaukee Brewers

WAR is not a perfect metric, but it’s useful shorthand for a player’s all-around impact. By the Baseball Reference version of WAR, Turang is the fourth-best player in the entire National League. The FanGraphs version isn’t quite so bullish, but it still has him 20th in the NL, which is 30 spots higher — and more than 1.5 WAR better — than the NL’s backup second baseman, Luis Arraez. Turang doesn’t have Arraez’s batting average, but he does have more power, more stolen bases and far superior defensive metrics. The players, though, chose Arraez.

Shortstop

Francisco Lindor, New York Mets

Had Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner (who’s missed considerable time with an injury) not been voted in as the NL starter, there might have been room for Lindor, who ranks seventh in the league in fWAR. But the Cincinnati Reds’ Elly De La Cruz (as a replacement for injured Mookie Betts) was chosen by the players, and the league chose CJ Abrams as the lone representative of the Washington Nationals, which left no room for Lindor or Willy Adames of the Milwaukee Brewers. A total of 40 players have at least 2.5 fWAR so far this season, and nine of them are shortstops (11 if you count multi-positional Willi Castro of the Minnesota Twins and Josh Smith of the Texas Rangers). Shortstop snubs were inevitable, even with seven chosen between the two rosters.

Third base

Jordan Westburg, Baltimore Orioles

Five third basemen rank in the top 18 in American League fWAR, and there simply wasn’t room for all of them on the roster. The fans voted for José Ramírez, the players voted for Rafael Devers, and the league chose Isaac Paredes as the Tampa Bay Rays’ representative. That left Westburg as the odd man out. He might have made it had he been listed as a second baseman — he’s played about a third of his games at second — but Westburg, Paredes and Smith have fairly similar numbers, and there just wasn’t room for all of them.

Outfield

Willi Castro, Minnesota Twins
Colton Cowser, Baltimore Orioles
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

Castro doesn’t fit neatly onto an All-Star ballot. He’s played at least 20 games at five different positions — second base, third base, shortstop, center field, left field — sometimes getting turns at multiple spots in a single game. Despite all that moving around, he’s produced a 130 wRC+ and the sixth-highest fWAR among all qualified outfielders in either league. Yet, he didn’t make the AL team. Neither did Orioles rookie Cowser (or his teammate, Anthony Santander) or any number of defensive standouts (notably, Daulton Varsho of the Toronto Blue Jays). The NL outfield was a little more wide-open, but Nimmo had at least as good a case as any outfielder on the NL bench.

Designated hitter

Brent Rooker, Oakland A’s

David Fry is one of the most surprising standouts of the first half. He’s made double-digit starts at catcher, left field and designated hitter — with a handful of innings at first base, third base and right field — and he’s helped keep the Guardians in first place with the 10th-best wRC+ among players with at least 200 plate appearances. Rooker, though, has similar offensive numbers (155 OPS+ to Fry’s 161) while getting almost 100 more plate appearances and hitting more than twice as many home runs (18 vs. 8).

Starting pitchers

Ronel Blanco, Houston Astros
Jack Flaherty, Detroit Tigers
Luis Gil, New York Yankees
George Kirby, Seattle Mariners
Cristopher Sánchez, Philadelphia Phillies

If you last checked in three weeks ago, you might have assumed Gil was a lock for the AL staff. As of mid-June, he had a 2.03 ERA through 14 starts and seemed a worthy replacement for injured Gerrit Cole atop the Yankees’ rotation. But Gil’s past three starts — heading into a Sunday night matchup against the Red Sox — resulted in three straight losses and a 14.90 ERA, which pushed his season ERA down to 3.41, 15th-best in the AL. Four starters with an ERA below 3.00 failed to make either team (Blanco, Sánchez, Brady Singer of the Kansas City Royals and Jake Irvin of the Nationals). Same for the major-league leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (Kirby) and the leader in xFIP (Flaherty) who also has the third-best strikeout rate and the fourth-best expected ERA. Inevitably, though, a few selected starters will opt out, which means some of the initial snubs will ultimately make it.

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Relief pitcher

Trevor Megill, Milwaukee Brewers

The first-place Brewers landed two players in the NL starting lineup, but no one on the bench (three of their infielders deserved consideration) and no one in the bullpen (they have the fourth-best bullpen ERA in the majors). Closer Megill and setup man Bryan Hudson rank fifth and sixth in Win Probability Added, and either one would have been a justifiable addition, but the NL Players’ Ballot selected two non-closers (Matt Strahm and Jeff Hoffman of the Philadelphia Phillies), forcing the league to use five of its six at-large spots to find lone representatives of the Mets (Pete Alonso), Nationals (Abrams), St. Louis Cardinals (Ryan Helsley), Chicago Cubs (Shota Imanaga) and Miami Marlins (Tanner Scott). The one truly at-large selection in the NL went to Webb.

(Top photo of Francisco Lindor: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images)

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