Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: Thoughts on the All-Star Game


Jun 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Seth Smith (12) during the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Some thoughts on the All-Star game…

The game is less than two weeks away. This Sunday, we’ll learn which of the 2014 Padres will represent the team in Minneapolis on July 15. Who are the most likely possibilities?

Closer Huston Street, a perfect 22-for-22 in save opportunities, is pretty much a slam dunk. There are six NL closers with over 20 saves. Of them, Street is the only one with an ERA under 2.00. Waaay under 2.00, that is. Street’s ERA is 0.90. And his 0.77 WHIP is the lowest of any reliever with more than two saves. In 14 of his 30 appearances, he hasn’t allowed a baserunner. In 28 of the 30, he hasn’t allowed a run. He has been as automatic as any closer in baseball, and absolutely deserves to be an All-Star.

Tyson Ross, in the middle of his breakout year as a legitimate front-end-of-the-rotation guy, has an outside shot. His 3.18 ERA is 19th in the league, and his 102 strikeouts rank him 11th. But his 1.27 WHIP is pretty average (33rd in the NL), and his six wins keep him out of the top 25. The team’s bad hitting hasn’t helped his cause. He has six starts in which he has allowed two or fewer earned runs and has either picked up a loss or a no-decision. If he had won even half of those games, his nine wins would put him only one off the league lead, which would have given him a much more compelling resumé. Maybe next year for Tyson.

Seth Smith isn’t even on the All-Star ballot. To vote for him, we’ve had to write him in. Only two players have ever been voted into an All-Star game as write-in candidates: Rico Carty in 1970 and Steve Garvey in 1974. I’m thinking the Padres’ fan base isn’t powerful enough to make Smith the third, and he isn’t getting many votes outside of San Diego. Not with Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, etc, on the ballot. And by “etc,” I mean Puig. Yecch.

A somewhat compelling case can be made for Smith, though. Although the team’s season-long ineptitude has quashed his counting stats, his percentage stats put him in the conversation. In this season of depressed offense around the league, his .275 average actually puts him 11th among NL outfielders. His on-base percentage of .377 ranks 4th, his slugging percentage of .498 is 7th.  His impressive .875 OPS is 5th. (Note: Those numbers were from before last night’s game. His double and homer last night vaulted him into the top 10 in extra-base hits among outfielders.) In a year where the Padres didn’t have any other candidates, Smith wouldn’t be a bad choice, but with Street being the best closer in the league, Smith’s chances are pretty slim.

On the other hand, a few more games like last night’s before Sunday might just force NL manager Mike Matheny to take a longer look. Or he could end up in the vote for the final player on the roster. That would be cool.

Let’s keep him in the leadoff spot, Bud!