Yesterday, what we all knew (or should have known) was made official: Corey Kluber did not win the Final Vote for the last spot on the American League All-Star team. Instead, Chicago's Chris Sale won it. Sale has much bigger name recognition, and plays in a larger market, so there was little chance he wouldn't win. Frankly, Sale deserved to win it, because other than Felix Hernandez, Sale has been maybe the bets pitcher in the league. Sale shouldn't have been in the Final Vote to begin with, and neither should Kluber.
There are nine starting pitchers who've been named to the AL team. Pick your metric, and Kluber has been one of the nine best:
- ERA: 2.86 (8th)
- ERA+: 133 (9th)
- FIP: 2.66 (4th)
- xFIP: 2.81 (4th)
- K/9: 9.81 (5th)
It's not as though Kluber is just putting up great rate stats without throwing as many innings as a lot of the other candidates. He's thrown 125.2 innings, 6th in the league
If you take the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs versions of WAR and average the two, Kluber's 3.25 put him in a tie for 5th place with Yu Darvish, who's on on the team. Felix is 1st (4.6 already), Sale and Masahiro Tanaka are tied for 2nd (3.7), and Jon Lester is 4th (6.7). All of those guys are on the team too.
No Kluber though, who is instead a victim of Scott Kazmir's lower ERA, the disappointing Rays having to have someone on the team (David Price was chosen), and manger John Farrell believing a bunch of relievers are more deserving (Glen Perkins, for example, has thrown 30% as many innings as Kluber, with a higher ERA, but 22 saves, so clearly he's having a better season)
It was in 2002 that the All-Star Game ended in a tie, which embarrassed the hell out of commissioner Bud Selig, and led him to (quite foolishly) decide the game would now determine home-field advantage. The rosters were also expanded at that point, making it much harder for a really good player to be left off the team.
In the 12 years since rosters were expanded, Kluber's 137 strikeouts are the most by any pitcher with an ERA below 3.00 to be left out of the All-Star Game. No one else who's limited scoring and struck guys out as well as Kluber this year had been snubbed, but I guess there's a first for everything.