The National League All-Star team was announced on Sunday night, and while the St. Louis Cardinals were well-represented, with starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, catcher Yadier Molina, third baseman Matt Carpenter, and reliever Pat Neshek making the team, there was a glaring omission with the absence of first baseman Matt Adams.
Those who don’t keep up with the numbers too closely may not think of Adams as an All-Star candidate; after all, this is his first year as a full-time starter, and he missed a couple of weeks with an injury. But thanks to a spectacular June and first week of July, Adams is now third in batting average among NL hitters with a .328 clip. Adams had a significant power deficit at the beginning of the season, hitting only three homers over his first 51 games. But since returning from the disabled list in early June, Adams has hit six home runs, and his slugging percentage is now at .522, good for fifth-best in the National League.
You can complain about the eight walks he’s taken this year, resulting in a less-than-spectacular .341 on-base percentage, but quite frankly the All-Star Game shouldn’t be decided based on who takes walks. He’s also an unimpressive 12-for-63 (.190) against lefthanded pitchers, but that’s a rather small sample size, and doesn’t really seem like a solid reason to keep him off the All-Star squad.
Since the NL had adequate depth at all the other infield positions (two players listed at third base, two second basemen, a shortstop, and Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who can play all across the field), Adams certainly wasn’t left off because of excessive talent at his position. It would have a made a lot of sense to have him on the roster instead of Harrison. After all, Harrison isn’t even a full-time starter on his own team. He garners a very good amount of playing time for a non-starter and regularly starts four to five times a week for the Pirates, but he has 49 fewer at-bats than Adams despite Adams’ DL stint.
Harrison’s numbers are nowhere near as good as Adams’ anyway, as the 26-year-old has a .298/.335/.453 slash line with five homers and 25 RBI in 72 games. And it’s not like he was there to be a representative of an otherwise unrepresented team; center fielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever Tony Watson were also on the roster.
Though Matt Carpenter provides extra depth at third base, Adams was a more worthy candidate than him from an offensive standpoint. He gets on base and is an effective leadoff hitter, but he’s only hitting .282 with a .764 OPS (four homers and 32 RBI). Manager Mike Matheny, who selected Carpenter to the roster, said that he picked him to add a “versatile component” to the roster, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering that he already had an actual utility man, Harrison, on the roster. You can make an argument that Carpenter’s 2.8 WAR makes him a more worthy candidate than Adams, who has a 2.1, but is that statistic really enough to decide the difference between two players whose other statistics are so vastly different?
If that wasn’t enough, Adams was slapped in the face again by being left out of the “final vote”, which lets fans choose a player among five candidates. The Marlins’ Casey McGehee is a very worthy candidate, as he leads the league in hits with 108, has hit .320 and has 53 RBI, which is tied for fifth in the NL. But the Rockies’ Justin Morneau (.314/.346/.518 with 13 homers and 59 RBI in 309 AB) and the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo (.276/.384/.487 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI in 312 AB) aren’t really worthy of being ahead of Adams in the pecking order. And Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon has had a great first full season in the bigs, but his .282/.340/.483 line and 12 homers don’t really give him a good case to be chosen over Adams, particularly since the NL already has so many guys at second and third base.
With Adams not even being a final vote candidate, the chances are slim to none that he’ll make his way into this year’s All-Star Game. Instead, he’ll just have to keep up his extremely impressive production into next year and hope that the fans, players, and coaches finally notice.