Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’
By Andrew Simon
WASHINGTON — Rafael Soriano entered Sunday’s game against the Cubs with a one-run lead in the ninth inning, tossed six of his eight pitches for strikes and retired the side in order for his 21st save. It was a performance representative of the closer’s strong season, yet Soriano was not among the pitchers named to the National League All-Star team a couple of hours later.
Soriano headed the list of snubs for the Nats, who have only one guaranteed All-Star despite a 48-39 record that puts them a half-game behind the Braves in the NL East. While right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was selected for the second year in a row and infielder Anthony Rendon is one of five Final Vote candidates, Washington has at least a few other players who can argue reasonably for inclusion.
“I think there’s some guys that are deserving, Soriano being one of them,” Zimmermann said. “He’s having a great year. Hopefully we can get Rendon in there, too.”
In his second season with Washington, Soriano has converted 21 of 23 save opportunities and held the opposition scoreless in 32 of his 35 appearances. He boasts a 1.03 ERA and .154 opponents’ average in 35 innings, with 11 walks, 18 hits and only one home run allowed, along with 32 strikeouts.
Then there’s the set-up duo of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, which has been about as reliable getting leads to Soriano as he has been saving them. Storen allowed a run on Sunday, only his fourth in 27 innings this season, a 1.33 ERA to go along with a .204 opponents’ average. Clippard wiggled out of a jam in the eighth inning for his 29th scoreless appearance out of his past 30. He’s posted a 1.89 ERA, a .200 opponents’ average and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Clippard was asked if he was surprised the back end of the Nats’ bullpen came up empty in terms of All-Star nods.
“It’s a joke, to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t know who’s gonna make it. I’m sure there’s a lot of worthy guys out there, but what Soriano’s done this year, there’s no way he doesn’t make the All-Star team, in my opinion. That guy’s got under a 1.00 ERA and 21 saves, and it’s incredible that he didn’t make it.”
Beyond Rendon and the bullpen, first baseman Adam LaRoche has an argument for making his first Midsummer Classic in his 11-year career. After going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks on Sunday, LaRoche is hitting .294/.401/.482, which would give him the second-highest OPS of his career and the eighth-best in the NL this season.
However, LaRoche also missed 14 games with a quad strain, which has cut into his counting stats (12 home runs, 45 RBIs). That hurts in a crowded field of NL first basemen.
Of course, the Nats’ All-Star contingent still could grow, either through the Final Vote or the usual flood of replacements due to injury or other factors.
“I think there’s a couple other guys that are deserving to go,” center fielder Denard Span said. “Rendy’s in the running for it, so hopefully he gets it. But I think he’s been an All-Star. You could argue for Soriano. He’s been lights-out. You could argue for Adam. There’s two or three guys extra that I think should be acknowledged, especially because we’ve been playing good baseball as a team. We’re pretty much a first-place team, and we only have one guy, so I think that’s a little odd.”
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
Anthony Rendon hasn’t been around long, and his name isn’t even on the All-Star ballot. Several other National League second baseman have more at-bats, more home runs, more experience and more name recognition.
But over the past three weeks, nobody has played more like an All-Star than Rendon.
The 23-year-old went 3-for-4 at the plate on Wednesday with two singles, one double and a towering fly ball that landed a few feet short of the left-field fence. Since being recalled by the Nationals on June 4, he is batting .392 with nine doubles and a game-winning home run. Since June 8, only one National League player — Mets third baseman David Wright — has more hits.
“He’s swung the bat like a veteran,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s hit every pitch that’s thrown up there at him. He’s got a quick bat and he’s aggressive, he hits all types of pitches.”
The biggest knock against Rendon is obviously his limited number of at-bats. He’s only played in 26 Major League games and his next at-bat will be his 100th at this level. His numbers, while stellar, could easily be indicative of a hot streak rather than a great hitter.
But if the All-Star game truly is about fielding the best player at each position in mid-July, can you completely write off Rendon? While his sample size might be small, Rendon has proven that he is as capable a hitter as anybody in the Nationals lineup. And while Brandon Phillips and Marco Scutaro are the two top vote-getters at the position so far, neither has been as valuable to his lineup over the past month as Rendon.
“Obviously hitting .350 or whatever, [he's had] a pretty good effect,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We all knew he could hit, and for him to play second base like he has with really no experience there… you really couldn’t ask for him to do any more than he’s done.”
Johnson has been impressed by Rendon’s poise and control at the plate, namely his ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. While other young hitters have a tendency to pull the ball, Rendon has consistently recorded opposite-field hits and line drives up the middle.
He says he’s using the same approach that he’s used his whole life.
“The game hasn’t changed since I was a little kid,” he said. “[The] strike zone, plate’s still the same size. The bases might have gotten a little bit longer, but that’s pretty much it.”
Stretch out Rendon’s numbers as if he were here all season and the results are impressive. If Rendon maintained his current averages and had as many at-bats as leading vote-getter Phillips (287, or about 3.6 per game), he would lead National League second baseman in hits (106), doubles (30), batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.402) and slugging percentage (.485). He also would rank fifth in runs (36) and walks (24).
Could Rendon hit like this for three straight months? Probably not. Is there any chance that his fellow players will vote him onto the All-Star roster with only a month of Major League experience? Probably not.
But when you talk about Nationals and All-Stars, Rendon has at least earned a place in the conversation.
CURTIS GRANDERSON, NYY, CF .269, 25 HR, 63 RBI
ASDRUBAL CABRERA, CLE, SS .293, 14 HR, 51 RBI
ADRIAN GONZALEZ, BOS, 1B .354, 17 HR, 77 RBI
JOSE BAUTISTA, TOR , RF, .334, 31 HR, 65 RBI
JOSH HAMILTON, TEX, LF, .301, 11 HR, 49 RBI
ADRIAN BELTRE, TEX, 3B, .273, 19 HR, 71 RBI
DAVID ORTIZ, BOS , DH, .304, 19 HR, 55 RBI
ROBINSON CANO, NYY, 2B, .296, 15 HR, 57 RBI
ALEX AVILA, DET, C, .286, 10 HR, 46 RBI
JERED WEAVER, LAA, RHP, 11-4, 1.86 ERA
RICKIE WEEKS, MIL, 2B, .278, 17 HR, 39 RBI
CARLOS BELTRAN, NYM, DH, .285, 13 HR, 58 RBI
MATT KEMP, LAD, CF, .313, 22 HR, 67 RBI
PRINCE FIELDER, MIL, 1B, .297, 22 HR, 72 RBI
BRIAN McCANN, ATL, C, .310, 15 HR, 50 RBI
LANCE BERKMAN, STL, RF, .290, 24 HR, 63 RBI
MATT HOLLIDAY, STL, LF, .324, 14 HR, 49 RBI
TROY TULOWITZKI, COL, SS, .268, 17 HR, 57 RBI
SCOTT ROLEN, CIN, 3B, .241, 5 HR, 36 RBI
ROY HALLADAY, PHI, RHP, 11-3, 2.45 ERA