Fan voting for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game has ended and the rosters will be announced Sunday night at 7:00 ET on ESPN. Those rosters will include 34 players from each league, including at least one from each team.
Michael Brantley is a lock for the AL team, what with his .314/.381/.510 batting line, 13 HR, 10 SB, 57 R, 55 RBI, and league-leading 10 outfield assists.
Will the Indians have a second representative?
Lonnie Chisenhall has been one of the best hitters in the league, but he's still 4 plate appearances away from being officially qualified, so he doesn't appear on any leader boards, and his counting totals are not especially impressive. His defense at third base has also been bad, and so on merit he's a very borderline case. I'd love to see him get the nod, but Josh Donaldson is going to start, and I'd send Kyle Seager and Adrian Beltre ahead of Lonnie as well.
Yan Gomes deserves to go, as he's been one of the three best catchers in the AL. There's a good chance he won't though, as Kansas City's Salvador Perez and Oakland's Derek Norris are almost certainly ahead of him, and Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki's .305 batting average stands a good chance of making him the Twins' representative.
The Indians player most deserving of joining Brantley at the game is Corey Kluber, who's been among the very best pitchers in baseball. As I mentioned, there are 34 roster spots to be handed out for each league Sunday night. There could be anywhere from 8-10 starting pitchers named to the team.
Kluber's 2.99 ERA puts him 10th in the American League, and his 127 strikeouts rank 6th. Looking beyond those fairly basic numbers, he's been even better. His FIP is 2.65, which ranks 3rd in the American League behind only Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale. Kluber has 3.2 fWAR, which ranks 5th.
On merit, Kluber belongs, he's somewhere among the ten best starters in the league so far this season, with a decent argument for a spot in the top five. The ten pitchers I would pick for the team would be (approximately in this order):
Felix Hernandez (he deserves to be the starter), Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Phil Hughes, Garret Richards, and David Price.
Kluber is only 7-6 though, and misguided as they are, wins and losses still hold a lot of weight with people when it comes to this sort of thing. Mark Buehrle is having a good season, and already has 10 wins. Rick Porcello is having a good season too, and he's already got 11 wins. Buehrle is a very well respected veteran on a contending team, Porcello is on a first-place team. Both those guys are going to make the roster, I think, and I expect Kluber will be one of the two or three guys I'd choose who doesn't actually make the cut.
Terry Francona is a coach for the AL team, and is friends with Boston skipper John Farrell, who gets to choose a few of the players, so maybe I'll be proven wrong. Also, there are almost always 2 or 3 starting pitchers named to the team in the week after the initial roster is announced, due to injuries and pitchers who are unavailable due to having pitched in the final game before the All-Star break, so even if Kluber's name isn't called Sunday, he'll still have a shot. Prepare yourself for some disappointment though, because I suspect that what we'll be feeling tomorrow night.
(Not the Klubot though, disappointment isn't part of his programming.)