It’s been a number of years since the Athletics had as many potential All-Star candidates as they do in 2013. They technically brought two to the game in 2010 when Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill represented the A’s, but only Bailey was actually on the roster because Cahill was unavailable after making a start shortly before that Tuesday. Prior to that, the A’s didn’t have multiple representatives until all the way back in 2004 when Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were there. Needless to say, oftentimes the Athletics have been a shining example of the rule that every MLB team must have an All-Star. When Justin Duchscherer is a 2-time representative for the team, I believe that says it all.
The last time the Athletics were prominently featured in the game was in 2007 when Dan Haren started for the American League. They haven’t had a position player elected to the team since Ramon Hernandez all the way back in 2003. The 2013 A’s came in with expectations for the season, and appeared to get people’s attention with their amazing 2012 season. How much respect they really garnered around the league may be put to the test in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt about it that the A’s have a number of legitimate candidates to head to Citi Field in Flushing, NY to help the American League secure home field advantage in the 2013 World Series.
The A’s have 3 position players, and had 3 pitchers as legitimate candidates to be elected to the All-Star team up until recently. Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Coco Crisp, Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, and Sean Doolittle were the 6 players who had legitimate shots at heading to New York. Sean Doolittle’s recent struggles erased his sparkling 0.78 ERA and with it his chances of being an All-Star. So let’s take a look at the chances of the remaining 5 who still could get the call.
Josh Donaldson has been the revelation on the offensive side of things for the A’s, he’s combined for average and power this year to put himself right in the mix among AL third basemen. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of starting, since the best hitter on the planet Miguel Cabrera occupies the same position and could very well be on his way to a second consecutive Triple Crown. He’s currently running a distant 5th in the voting. With Evan Longoria, Manny Machado, and the hated Adrian Beltre ahead of him it may be tough for the relative unknown in Donaldson to get recognized, but by any definition he is an All-Star and deserves to get that recognition.
Jed Lowrie has a bit of an easier path to New York, while J.J. Hardy leads the voting thanks to one of those good old fashioned mass voting campaigns (apparently teams who wear orange and black are obsessed with these types of campaigns). Jhonny Peralta is also having an excellent season and his skipper is in charge of the AL team, and Elvis Andrus is a well known player and is getting votes despite having a mediocre year so far, if he doesn’t get voted in he will not go. Lowrie’s ability to play multiple positions as well could help his cause as Jim Leyland does have to manage the game to win the game. At a generally defensive position, Lowrie’s offensive output has to get him serious consideration to be an All-Star.
Coco Crisp is a bit of a longshot considering the glut of talent in the outfield around the AL, but he’s perhaps having the best offensive season of his career. Despite missing time with the obligatory injuries, Coco has been an offensive force and while functioning as a catalyst for the A’s he’s also on pace for a career high in home runs. He along with Yoenis Cespedes have been able to crack the top 10 in voting, but are doubtful to ascend any higher. A few well placed injuries though could vault Crisp onto the team, that might be his best shot.
Bartolo Colon is perhaps the most intriguing of the 5, as not only a 40 year old pitcher, and a recent recipient of a 50 game PED suspension, but because he may find himself in the running to actually start the game. Clay Buchholz and Max Scherzer are definitely having stronger seasons than Colon, but with Buchholz on the disabled list at the moment, and the possibility that Scherzer could be unavailable depending when he makes his final start before the break. Since for the sake of selecting the All-Star team, wins and ERA play the biggest part in ranking pitchers, I’ll state that Colon has the second highest win total at 10 in the AL, and his 2.93 ERA is good for 10th in the league. This will be a story to keep a close eye on as we draw closer to the game.
Finally, Grant Balfour has more than solidified himself as the Athletics closer. He’s solidified himself as one of the best closers in the American League. His 2.03 ERA is very nice, and it was a lot nicer a couple days ago at 1.16 before serving up the 3-run walk off home run to Kendrys Morales on Sunday. He’s converted all of his save chances in 2013, and many more in 2012, although those should have no impact on whether or not he’s selected. Mariano Rivera is a lock to be an All-Star, because he’s having another great season, not as a gift because it’s his last year. Joe Nathan likely gets in as well for his work so far, and Glen Perkins seems like a good bet for the same reasons Justin Duchscherer was a good bet a few years back. Aside from that there isn’t much standing in Balfour’s way.
In the end, I expect Donaldson, Colon, and Balfour to make the team. This may be a banner year for the A’s in the midsummer classic. We will find out once and for all who has made the team on July 6th, and the game will take place on July 16th at Citi Field.