Bryce Harper and the All-Star Game
I read a column this morning about how according to the stats, Bryce Harper will be lucky to make the All-Star team. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and in reality it’d be a travesty if he didn’t make it on as a reserve. Ok, maybe not a travesty, but certainly a disappointment and a missed opportunity by Major League Baseball.
Let’s start with a quick overview of how the selection process works. There are 34 spots on the roster, 8 NL position player Starters are chosen by fan voting. 16 additional players (5 SP, 3 RP, 1 backup for every position) are chosen by the votes of players, coaches and managers. An additional 9 NL players are selected by the All Star team Manager (Tony LaRussa this year), leaving one additional spot open for the fan decided “Final Man Vote”. So by this math alone, fans have the opportunity to vote in at most 4 outfielders. On average over the last five years, the NL has had 8 outfielders on the roster, with 11 in 2011. So to have a legitimate shot, he’d need to at least be one of the top eight outfielders this year.
Now we’ll move on to the stats, with some explanation to preface. During this analysis I took into account both counting stats (R, 2B, 3B, HR) and rate stats (AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, SB%, BB%, K%), I then ranked each player in each of those categories and averaged their performance across the board to come up with a final ranking. I completed this process for both the time period of Opening Day to 6/14 and 4/28-6/14 to see how Harper compared vs. the entire season and on even footing as far as games played.
For the time period of Opening day to June 14 I only used currently active players who have more than 170 PA this year, that means anyone currently on the DL or who has spent a significant amount of time on the DL will not be on this list. In the NL, 39 outfielders met those requirements. Over this time period Harper ranks 7th out of 39, behind Gonzalez, Cabrera, Prado, Braun, Beltran and McCutchen. As you can see in the charts below, the only thing holding him back is the fact that he hasn’t played as many games and is at an inherent disadvantage in the counting stats.
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and here are how the rankings during that period shook out:
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For the time period of April 28 to June 14 I again used only active players, but lowered the PA threshold to 100. In this scenario there were 38 eligible NL outfielders, of whom Harper ranked 5th. This put him behind Gonzalez, Cabrera, Prado and Stanton; but placed him ahead of the likes of McCutchen, Braun, Beltran, Pence and Holliday.
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and here are how the rankings looked during this more abbreviated period:
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So to review, the fans can vote in as many as four outfielders, the player vote/managers choice usually brings in 4 more with last year there being 7. If there were 11 outfielders selected this year, it would in fact be a travesty if Harper were not one of them. Looking at the numbers and how they compare to other eligible candidates specifically, it’s not a stretch to say that even if only 8 OF’s were selected, Bryce Harper should be one of them as he’s without a doubt one of the top 8 outfielders in the NL for the season.
Odds are he won’t sniff the starting lineup (unless he plays DH) as the fan vote doesn’t even list him on the ballot. But as a player vote in or manager selection, he deserves the nod and in addition could bring exponentially more attention to an event that last year drew its lowest viewership ever.