There is no doubt that Nationals rookie starter
And there should be no doubt that he does not belong in this year's All-Star Game.
When Strasburg toes the rubber in Atlanta's Turner Field tonight, he will be making his fifth start. He's undoubtedly been a force over the course of his first four outings, going 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. But increasing talk about him belonging in the All-Star Game is the idle chatter surrounding a club that has fallen out of contention.
Strasburg simply hasn't -- and won't have -- pitched enough to merit inclusion at the Midsummer Classic.
A baseball season is 26 weeks long, and just more than half, 14, are played before the All-Star Game. By the time this year's contest is played on July 13 in Angels Stadium, Strasburg will have been on a major-league roster for exactly five weeks -- in other words, barely a third of the season to date.
This is no slight to the young phenom who will likely earn a spot in the Midsummer Classic for many years to come, but 2010 is not his time. Strasburg will have made only seven starts by the time of the All-Star Game and only six by the time rosters are announced on July 4.
The closest precedent cited by Strasburg-as-All-Star supporters isn't even that close.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the fewest appearances by a pitcher who reached that year's All-Star Game was nine by Cincinnati's
Otherwise, except for in the strike-shortened 1981 season, only five pitchers have been All-Stars with even as few as 11 appearances, and only one of them, the Red Sox'
Consider how small a sample size four starts is. Mets knuckleballer,
Strasburg's case for consideration would be bolstered if Washington didn't have any other deserving players. This isn't, say, the 2008 Nationals when shortstop Cristian Guzman -- whose numbers at the break were a modest .313 batting average, .340 on-base percentage, five home runs and 30 RBIs -- was named an All-Star simply because of the Major League Baseball rule requiring a representative from each team.
But the Nationals are not lacking for All-Star caliber players, featuring a no doubter in third baseman
The longstanding debate surrounding the All-Star Game is whether players should be selected based entirely on their merits that season (i.e. production in the year's first half) or because they are truly the stars fans most want to see. The latter is why legends like
But pitchers aren't voted in by the fans. The decision of whether Strasburg is an All-Star or not will likely rest in the hands of the players, who will vote in five starters, and
"I've been keeping up with him," Manuel said to reporters a week ago. "He has to earn it, so we will wait and see."
There is no shortage of good starters who have earned it in this rejuvenated year of the pitcher. Fourteen starters have an ERA under 3.00 while making at least 14 starts.
Major League Baseball implemented a new rule this year in which starters who pitch on Sunday can be honored as All-Star selections but are ineligible to pitch and will be replaced on the active roster. This rule expands the number of starters who will be selected, but there is an ample supply of candidates who have been performing all seas5on.
One other scenario is that the league could include Strasburg on the five-man ballot for the 34th and final All-Star spot, which is the one chance for fans to vote for a pitcher.
Though the Nationals have been exceedingly strict about his pitch counts and innings limits, general manager
But Strasburg would be best served pitching three days later in the Nationals¹ first game after the break. For this season he is Washington's star rookie, but not its All-Star.