Anthony Rendon is a snub you can see coming. Major League Baseball will unveil the all-star teams tonight, and Rendon would be a worthy selection – a solid defensive player at two positions and an artful, destructive hitter. But for various reasons, he faces a steep challenge in making the midsummer classic in his first full season.
If Rendon misses the cut, it will not be for lack of a compelling case. Among National League third basemen, Rendon ranks second in WAR (3.2), third in batting (.286), fifth in on-base percentage (.343), second in slugging (.489), second in steals (eight), second in RBI (50), fourth in homers (12) and first in runs (60). In a vacuum, that is what an all-star looks like.
The team, of course, is not constructed in a vacuum. Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez had a comfortable lead in the fan’s vote as of the final update July 1. Ramirez has only played 62 games, and he’s hitting .286/.339/.476 with 11 homers. He’s having a nice year, but if voted in he’ll take away a spot from a more worthy third baseman.
The Reds’ Todd Frazier seems to be the clearest choice at the position. He leads NL third basemen in WAR, homers, steals and slugging, and he plays excellent defense. That makes two third basemen taking a possible spot from Rendon.
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny may take only two third basemen. If he chooses another, Rendon still would need to fight through a crowded field. Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee is hitting .317 with a .385 on-base percentage and 52 RBI, though he’s hit just one home run.
Rendon could also get dinged by the customs of the game. Every team needs an all-star, and the Mets have no players who would make the team on their own merit. Matheny could choose David Wright, who’s having a subpar season, based purely on track record. It would be as logical as any other reason to take a Met.
If Rendon doesn’t make it at third base, he could be tabbed in the utility spot, having started 16 games at second base. But he would then find himself in competition with the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter, who is slugging just .393 but merits consideration with his .378 on-base percentage. Carpenter would hold one crucial, unavoidable edge: He plays for Matheny, and Matheny would likely feel pressure to take his own player over a rival’s. That happens most every season.
We’ll find out if Rendon makes his way on to the team later tonight. His performance so far this season seems much better than his odds to make the NL team.