MLB All-Star Game 2011: Andrew McCutchen Shouldn't Be An All-Star, Columnist Argues

If you work for a small-town paper (and as a writer who's worked for a couple of small-town papers, I don't say that with derision), the best way to get attention beyond that small town is, unfortunately, to write something really asinine. Congratulations to Grove City Allied News writer Patrick Connelly, who has really hit one out of the park with this column, which argues that Andrew McCutchen is "not an All-Star ... yet." You win, Mr. Connelly - I bit.

Ten years from now, if McCutchen indeed becomes the player many believe he is capable of being, we’ll probably all look back and have a good laugh about this.

Actually, McCutchen already is that player. True, he might get even better, but even now, he's been one of the best position players in the National League in 2011. And by "best," I mean "top three." Other than perhaps his arm, he doesn't have any weaknesses - he hits for average and power, he's a good baserunner, and his defense has markedly improved this year. Wins Above Replacement, which combines a player's offensive and defensive contributions, currently ranks McCutchen second among N.L. position players, behind only Jose Reyes.

One prong of Connelly's argument is that the fans pick the players they most want to see to start, and that includes picking likely Hall of Famers long after their primes. That's fine, but that doesn't mean the players and the manager have any excuse for missing the boat on a guy who has, literally, been one of the best players in baseball this year.

Of course, someone like Connelly probably isn't going to be convinced by an appeal to a statistic like Wins Above Replacement.

Before Thursday’s games, McCutchen was tied for third among players at his own position in batting average, a statistic he vastly improved the last two weeks of June. Michael Bourn, the speedy Houston outfielder, was tied with McCutchen and also wasn’t elected to the team, despite leading the NL with 35 stolen bases ...

In addition to being tied for third in batting average among center fielders, McCutchen is third in home runs, fifth in stolen bases and, by the skin of his teeth, in second in RBIs. He’s been caught stealing five times (fourth among NL center fielders and huddled around guys whom all are not All-Stars). McCutchen is first at his position in walks, but that barely deserves more than the cliché "good eye, kid" acknowledgment.

No. Just no. Walks produce runs. Anyone who writes about baseball should know that. This is the 21st century.

But we can look beyond the battles over which statistics are better (although it should be very clear to anyone who's thinking seriously about the game that basic sabermetric stats like OPS and WAR are much, much better indicators of a player's true contributions than a hodgepodge of traditional stats basically used at random). If this guy seriously can't tell that Michael Bourn isn't even on the same planet as Andrew McCutchen as a ballplayer, then he shouldn't be writing about baseball at all. Step away from the computer, Mr. Connelly.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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