In the month of June, a new superstar burst on the scene in MLB, going by the name of Yasiel Puig. In 32 games (and 192 plate appearances), Puig has accumulated 52 hits, 17 extra base hits (8 doubles, 1 triple, 8 HR) along with 5 stolen bases, resulting in the following triple slash line: .409/.437/.677 with an OPS of 1.114 and OPS+ of 209 (or in Fangraphs language, .473 wOBA and 212 wRC+).
In the past week, while listening to the MLB Radio network, I've heard a repeated discussion about whether Puig should be on the All Star team. Some advocates posit that he should be on the team because the games best players from the first half of the season should play, while opponents say the sample size is too small and the All Star game is reserved for players who have been around longer.
The last players that generated this kind of discussion were Mike Trout and Bryce Harper last season, both of whom made the All Star team (Harper after Giancarlo Stanton was unable to play with an injury and Trout selected via player vote). The difference, however, is that both Trout and Harper were called up to the major leagues at the end of April, allowing them plenty of time and games to prove they belonged in the All Star game (especially to players and the All Star team managers).
This topic brings up two thoughts for me:
1. Puig has a super small sample size. Even if he's this good, he hasn't shown it for more than a month and a half (by the time the break comes along). Compared to Harper and Trout, he'll have about 2/3 the number of games they did (39 for Puig vs 63 for Harper and 64 for Trout).
2. MLB really needs to decide what they want this game to be about: showcasing the best players and most exciting stories or putting two teams on the field to compete in a game that "matters" and determines home field advantage for the World Series.
If the game must count as the determining factor in which league has home field advantage in the World Series, it would be best for someone other than fans to choose players, along with removing the "unwritten" requirement for each team to have a representative in the All Star game (if the team doesn't have any stars, they don't deserve to be represented). This would also come with a threshold for consideration (number of games played or if on the DL or starting the season in the minors, a "start by" date). For example, due to small sample sizes, we don't know if Puig is among the actual best six outfielders in NL in 2013 (though he certainly looks like he may be by the end of the season).
The alternative would be to revert back to a pure exhibition format, and return home field advantage in the WS to the Win-Loss records of the two teams competing in the World Series (just like all other sports, if I recall correctly). In the pure exhibition format, while there may be times when the games end in a tie (oh no!), there would be a clear forum for allowing great stories in the first half (or final seasons) to be shared and honored at the All Star game. Then, there would be no controversy about who is chosen, whether it's Yasiel Puig with his 39 games or Mike Trout or Bryce Harper with only missing April.
Personally, I think, while Puig has shown to be a remarkable player, he hasn't accumulated a large enough sample size for me to consider him for the All Star game, especially since he missed being in the majors for the first two months of the season. I'd also prefer that the game not determine home field advantage, but that's not likely to change. Regardless of how many players are on the All Star roster, putting Puig on the team over proven players (not necessarily old veterans, but consistently good for the last few years), is unfair. If Puig (and even Trout and Harper) are as good as we all think they are, they'll earn many appearances in the All Star game over the course of their career. To be fair, as I previously mentioned Jeter, I hold players on the DL to the same standard (if you miss the first two months, you shouldn't be in the All Star game).
For discussion purposes:
1. Do you think Yasiel Puig should be on the 2013 National League All Star Team?
2. What would you change about the selection or voting process for the All Star Game?
3. Do you like or dislike that the All Star game determines home field advantage in the World Series?