The stars were shining bright as Turner, Soto, Schwarber all earn first All-Stars!

2021 highlights in Topps Now cards

Count them: Three
Should be: Five

There were three Washington Nationals stars who will don that modified Curly W gear in Colorado for this year’s installment of the All-Star game. Writer, Ken Rosenthal, made a case for three Nats also in the mid-summer classic, and he had Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and Max Scherzer as his three, but the final reveal did not call Scherzer’s name. Snubbery? Juan Soto did make it, and joins the Nats trio of first-time picks with Turner and Schwarber.

The biggest snub of course could be manager Dave Martinez who would have been the 2020 All-Star manager per the honor given to the reigning MLB World Series manager — if the All-Star game was played last year and instead was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.

MLB, commissioner Rob Manfred, and/or Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts could have righted the situation and added Martinez into the NL All-Star dugout in some capacity — but as of now, there has been no movement on that front. In fact, for the past four days Roberts was on the same field as the Nats skipper and did not extend a personal invitation according to sources. Eyes on the scene did not even see the pair interact. First base coach, Randy Knorr of the Nats, delivered the lineup cards each game to the Dodgers.

Scherzer, chosen to seven consecutive All-Star selections dating back to his time with the Tigers has put up one of his best statistical seasons of his career in 2021. The three-time Cy Young Award winner currently ranks 5th in ERA (2.10), 4th in WHIP (0.848), and 4th in strikeouts (127). He has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last 11 starts, and like Schwarber’s case for being an All-Star, “what have you done for me lately” sure proves that span by Scherzer which is the longest such streak of his HOF career should make him an All-Star.

Here is the list of starting pitchers who were named All-Stars except Scherzer (in red) and the list includes their ERA and team affiliation and placed in order of ERA rankings:

  1. SP Jacob deGrom (NYM) 0.95
  2. SP Kevin Gausman (SFG) 1.68
  3. SP Brandon Woodruff (MIL) 1.87
  4. SP Zack Wheeler (PHI) 2.05
  5. SP Max Scherzer (WSN) 2.10
  6. SP Trevor Rogers (MIA) 2.14

That is the list plus Corbin Burnes (MIL) 2.41, Yu Darvish (SDP) 2.65, and Germán Márquez (COL) 3.59, all made the All-Star team with Marquez as the lone Rockies representative, but why is Burnes and Darvish on the team ahead of Scherzer? Advanced metrics might make a case for Burnes, but not for Darvish who statistically has not had a better season than Scherzer.

“If he’s not an All-Star, there’s something wrong,” Turner said of the Scherzer snub. “I mean, we pulled up the stats when we found out. I know there’s a lot of good players, I get it, but he’s top-5 in every category, not only just in the NL, but mostly in MLB as well.”

“I just thought they didn’t notify pitchers today or something because that’s the only thing that makes sense to me, that they just didn’t tell pitchers today and were telling them tomorrow or something. I think he’s more than deserving.”

There is still a chance that Scherzer makes the team as an injury replacement or if another pitcher starts a game next Sunday then they are not allowed to pitch in the All-Star game and another pitcher will be chosen. There is certainly hope that Max can get that 8th All-Star game selection.

While Soto’s numbers are not spectacular compared to the back of his baseball card, he is still up there as one of the best outfielders in the game and as of this writing has an .832 OPS but most of that comes from all of the walks he has accumulated this season as his .278 batting average and .431 slugging percentage are not All-Star worthy but his .400 OBP is. If Soto can figure this launch angle into his swing, he could be poised for one heck of a second half and get back to that .950+ OPS on he back of his baseball card.

“It’s like a dream for every player to come to the All-Star Game,” Soto said. “To be around all those stars and famous people, it’s just going to be a great experience to be out there and have fun with all those guys.”

As the team’s top WAR, batting average, stolen bases, and runs scoring leader, Turner certainly deserved the pick, and statistically he is a Top-5 MVP candidate at the moment.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to play in some capacity; I want to,” Turner said. “But we’re taking it day by day and see how it feels. I’d love to play.”

For Turner, he injured his middle finger on his left-hand when sliding in for a triple to notch his third career cycle. His status is up in the air while he was in the midst of one of his best seasons as a big leaguer. He was on pace for a 30-30 season with his 14 homers and league leading 18 stolen bases. The shortstop is batting .318 and showing that last year’s shortened COVID season was no fluke. Turner is the first Nationals shortstop to make the All-Star team since Expos draftee and Nats’ favorite Ian Desmond was chosen in 2012.

Then you got Schwarber who peaked at the right time as he went on a tear in 2 weeks that were the hottest in MLB history. He was literally looking like a horrible signing back on May 5th as he was slashing .181/ .253/ .319/ .573  and since that point to now he raised his OPS an amazing 337 points to .910. He just earned the NL Player of the Month honor for June and on the same day seriously strained his hamstring and was placed on the IL. He led the NL in home runs (16), RBI (30), slugging percentage (.760) and OPS  (1.122) in June and most of that production was from that 16-game hot streak when he slugged 1.079 and tied several home run records.

“I’d like to go and still kind of experience everything,” said Schwarber. “You only get one first. So I want to experience it and just make the most of it. It sucks I won’t be able to play, but I’m still very excited to be a part of it.”

As you might recall, Schwarber was a finalist in the 2018 Home Run Derby at Nationals Park, but did not stay for the All-Star game the following night. Since he is currently injured and said he won’t play a week from Tuesday in the mid-summer classic, he could still go and breathe it all in, including that mile high air.

For Turner and Soto, they have been teammates from the time Soto was first brought up. The dynamic duo were joined by Schwarber to form a trio of stars at the top of the Nats’ lineup, and the success started for Schwarbs when he was moved to leadoff and went on an historic run. By the count, Turner and Schwarber were selected to the All-Star team by a vote from their peers and not the fan vote. MLB used their votes to add Soto to the All-Star roster.

Congratulations to all of these deserving Washington Nationals players.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Lang for TalkNats


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