“I always felt bad for a guy who is the only All-Star [representative] from his team,” Max Scherzer said about going to another All-Star game surrounded by four teammates.
There were many years the Nationals only had one player on the All-Star roster. Major League Baseball has a requirement that every team has at least one All-Star representative. When you are on your way to losing 103 games in the 2009 season as the Washington Nationals were — you know that you are fortunate to get your one player on that All-Star roster. Ryan Zimmerman was that reserve chosen for that 2009 All-Star team as the token Nat. He was probably lonely. He wasn’t married then, and he took Jon Will as his guest and was accompanied by ownership’s Ted and Annette Lerner. The Nationals were going through turmoil and Manny Acta would be fired during the All-Star break and replaced by Jim Riggleman. The mood was near an all-time low in Washington, D.C. baseball after a 102-loss season the year before.
Zimmerman would arrive in St. Louis and in the locker room on that All-Star team are now familiar names with Nats fans like Jayson Werth, Dan Haren, and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, and on the American League side was Jonathan Papelbon and Edwin Jackson.
In 2010, Zimmerman was the best player on the Nationals team by the end of the season but he was batting in the .280’s when that All-Star roster was put together and closer Matt Capps would be the Nationals lone representative that year. Capps would be traded shortly afterwards to the Twins for Wilson Ramos.
As the Nationals got better, Zimmerman faded as the Nationals star player and never got back to his .899 OPS of 2010 until this season where he was the hottest player in baseball for the first 6 weeks of this 2017 season, and that hot start has propelled him to the All-Star break with a .969 OPS.
— Navy Yard Nats (@NavyYardNats) June 25, 2017
Many baseball fans, and Nats fans in particular, were concerned that Ryan Zimmerman, despite having a far superior season to Anthony Rizzo according to any advanced metric, would not be voted the starter because the All-Star voting process allows an extremely organized fan-base like the Cubs to potentially manipulate the process. In the end, if the Cubs made that effort, it failed because real baseball fans, and the Nationals faithful, stepped up and delivered the starting position to Zimmerman, who almost all unbiased analysts thought had a superior season to Anthony Rizzo.
One with that concern was a longtime Nats fan who goes by Navy Yard Nats on Twitter, and he lives in the Nationals Park neighborhood, and by chance, lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2005 when the team came to DC. It was a grassroots effort getting the vote out big-time for Ryan Zimmerman! Not only did Zim make the 2017 All-Star team, but he was named the starter at 1st base and beat out Paul Goldschmidt who had better statistics including a 1.005 OPS. It was the first-time that Nationals fans ever got out the vote in a concerted effort using social media like this. The irony is that while Zimmerman did beat out Paul Goldschmidt he was never Zim’s All-Star competition in the voting as he was a distant third place — Zim beat out Anthony Rizzo of the World Series champion Cubs.
“I thought the voting was appropriate and right and good,” Cub’s manager Joe Maddon said on ESPN after the all-star rosters were announced Sunday.
Navy Yard Nats is as humble as they come. We have spoken on the phone before and share many of the same interests. We jibber jabber back and forth, and he would not accept any praise for the final voting results. He had 91 retweets on that tweet above which reached other people exponentially and that is how social media works, and Navy Yard Nats was sending out daily reminders to rally the fanbase.
The push through social media doesn’t always work as Anthony Rendon did not win in the “Final Vote” even though he was statistically the best of that group of players according to Fangraphs as pointed out correctly by teammate Daniel Murphy “Do you go to FanGraphs?”. But in a short period of time it is hard to get out the vote against a city that is over 7 million larger in population and the Final Vote went to Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.
Daniel Murphy was on to something. Anthony Rendon today is the #1 in Fangraphs WAR for all National League position players at +4.1 wins above replacement!
The WAR (wins above replacement) calculation is proprietary and very much dependent on defense which is more subjective as well as offense and baserunning. Anthony Rendon is having a great year at the plate as well as defensively at third base.
There is no WAR calculation for impact in the clubhouse or the intangibles that a player brings to the lineup as we see with Trea Turner. For the Nationals, Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer are the co-MVPs of this Nationals’ team. Scherzer should be the starting pitcher for the NL All-Star team tomorrow night and Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman will also be starting behind him as his All-Star teammates. Stephen Strasburg will be in waiting as one of Joe Maddon’s pitchers in the bullpen.
Rendon will be watching the game from his couch back in Houston, Texas. Every year there are All-Star snubs. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo made based on their stats and will also be watching the game from afar.
Daniel Murphy is 17th in WAR in the NL and Ryan Zimmerman statistically is 26th in the National League in WAR tied with Michael Taylor. With Taylor and Trea Turner on the DL, their placement on the leaderboards will change as WAR is cumulative. Trea Turner finished the first half of the season at an impressive +1.8.
For the Nats middle of the lineup players, they must continue to find a consistency. Both Zimmerman and Harper started out strong, and the Nationals will be counting on both of them to have strong second halves.
The Nationals just need to stay on their current pace and patiently wait for their injured players to return to bolster this line-up and the bullpen while Mike Rizzo works some magic to add some upgraded personnel via some trades.
“We had a good first half,” Dusty Baker said. “I wanted 20 [games over .500] but you always want more than you have as a manager.”
“There are a few areas we really have to improve on you know. We have to improve on our first-pitch efficiency; and our bullpen efficiency; we have to improve on getting runners in from 3rd [base] with less than 2 outs. We really have to improve on our ‘day game’ percentage of wins because that is one area we just aren’t real good. I want to improve our one-run games.”
At times it feels like the line-up is all replacement players built around Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy and Rendon when catcher Matt Wieters is on the bench, and it really is. The Nationals are missing Adam Eaton, Jayson Werth, and Trea Turner. The back-ups, like in 2012, have been doing the job which the 2015 reserves could not do. Michael Taylor, Brian Goodwin and Wilmer Difo have all stepped up big for this team. Bench veterans like Adam Lind and Stephen Drew have further solidified the effort.
UPDATE: Since Clayton Kershaw was ineligible to pitch in the All-Star game per MLB rules as he started the game on the Sunday before the All-Star game, it made it clear that Max Scherzer was going to be starting the game and that is now official.
- Charlie Blackmon CF
- Giancarlo Stanton DH
- Bryce Harper RF
- Buster Posey C
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Nolan Arenado 3B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Marcell Ozuna LF
- Zack Cozart SS
Max Scherzer RHP
In a strange error on MLB.com they listed Kris Bryant starting the All Star game in Bryce Harper’s spot: