There are quite a few things about the All-Star Game that puzzle me, like why the Dodgers are letting Matt Kemp participate in the Home Run Derby or how Ian Desmond (who has played every inning of every Nationals game since April 20) was allowed to bow out due to a pre-existing injury.
But the biggest one is why Tony La Russa chose Matt Cain to start the game over R.A. Dickey.
I get that the All-Star Game is about who the fans want to see, at least with the starting position players, but you still have to have “numbers” to be there.
And when you look at the numbers, well, Dickey deserves it.
Those numbers say that Dickey’s 12 wins and 0.93 WHIP lead the National League, his 2.40 ERA is fifth in the league (behind four guys who aren’t even on the All-Star Team), his 120 innings pitched rank him fourth (and have him just 2/3 of an inning shy of the lead), and his 123 strikeouts are second to Clayton Kershaw.
Honestly, yes, you can make an argument that any of the starters on the team deserve to start; they’re All-Stars, and even when you consider some (like Arizona’s Wade Miley) are there in part because their team has to have a representative, they’re still guys with top-flight numbers.
Cain is a great pitcher, and his line (9-3, 2.62 ERA, 160.1 IP, 118 K, 0.96 WHIP) has him at or near the top of all of those categories as well.
But Dickey’s numbers are better, and even though he plays on a team with the same record as the Giants (both are 46-40), he’s doing it in a tougher division – the Mets are in third place, 4.5 games behind Washington, while the Giants are a half-game behind NL West leader Los Angeles.
Tony La Russa knows infinitely more about baseball than I, and has more World Series rings than I ever will; I admit that. And, of course, you can say the same about Ron Washington’s choice in the AL, as although Justin Verlander (9-5, 2.58 ERA, leads the league in Ks and is second in WHIP) is always a solid bet, you can also make a strong argument for Chris Sale, David Price, Matt Harrison, and Yu Darvish – the latter two made stronger by the fact that they actually play for Washington.
But as a fan, watching a game played mostly for the fans, I believe the starter should be the guy having the best season, and one would tend to think that as the All-Star Game decides who has home field advantage in the World Series, a manager would want to put his strongest pitcher on the mound to start.
The latter might not matter so much to the retired La Russa, but when it comes to the former, well, that man in the NL is R.A. Dickey.
Hopefully, Dickey will get the chance to showcase his knuckleball to the world at some point on Tuesday night – and who knows, maybe the All-Star start snub will fuel him to an even better second half, perhaps en route to a Cy Young Award.
Because right now, it’d be hard to argue that Dickey doesn’t deserve that honor, either.