2013 MLB All-Star Game: Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma Selected for the AL
By JJ Keller
Jun 28, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcherHisashi Iwakuma
(18) pitches to the Chicago Cubs during the 3rd inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The player that will be participating in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game have been announced today, and a pair of Mariners have found their way onto the roster this year. Those being starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, who have formed quite a 1-2 punch for what has been a punch-deficient team.
These were probably the two names that most often came to mind for fans speculating the Mariner’s representation on the AL team this year, and for good reason.
Felix has been as dominant as ever this year, with a 2.69 ERA, 2.71 FIP and 3.2 WAR on the year. He has struck out a career high 9.46 per-nine, while walking a career-low 1.75 per-nine. With all of that, he is currently on pace for one of, if not the best season of his career, and is very worthy of this selection, the fourth in his career
He seems to have flown under the radar so far this year, at least in my estimation, but that is not justified when you see just how great he has been. While he hasn’t had much connection to it, he should be a front-runner for the AL Cy Young this year if he keeps up this pace.
The other Seattle representative will be #2 pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who has come out of nowhere this year to be one of the better pitchers in the league.
After a couple less-than-spectacular outings in his last two games, he currently holds a 2.60 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 1.7 WAR, while striking out 7.64 and walking 1.34 per nine innings. As you can see, the sabermetrics don’t love him as much as the more traditional ones do, but he has still been a very solid pitcher this season, his second on the majors.
After coming over last year and being misused for most of the year, he has burst onto the scene as a legitimate #2 starter behind the King, and is fully deserving of his first All-Star appearance.
While these two were somewhat expected, some other names popped up from hopeful fans. The main one being that of 41 year old Raul Ibanez, who has come on strong this year, particularly of late. He currently has a team-leading 21 home runs, which is very high on the list of “Most home runs from age 41 and beyond.”
I wrote about him here, and you can read that to see my full feelings on Raul. In short, I like what he is doing at the plate, but do not see him as an All-Star. Some fans are mesmerized by the home runs and nostalgia, and that is fine. Raul is a fan favorite, and I get that. But I personally do not feel he is All-Star worthy.
However, some may see him as a snub, and that is justified as well. All-Star selection can transcend just statistics and performance on the field. The fact that he is a veteran, as well as a clubhouse and fan favorite can play a part in his All-Star worthiness.
Kyle Seager has also had a very good year, and an argument can be made in his favor as well. But I am not sure you have much of a case when you look at the guys he would have to beat out: Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Jhonny Peralta, and Manny Machado. As much as I love Seager and as good as he has been, the other player he has been better than is Zobrist.
Actually, my opinion has evolved since writing this. He SHOULD be in over Zobrist.
Zobrist: .260/.348/.376 — .322 wOBA — 1.8 WAR
Seager: .286/.345/.479 — .356 wOBA — 3.1 WAR
Assuming there is no one more deserving that Seager, he should have made it over Ben Zobrist, who likely got in based on what he has done in the past, as he has been fairly average this year.
Despite a couple possibly snubs, having the teams two top pitcher represent them in the Midsummer Classic is nothing to sneeze at.
What do you think of the selections? Were Seager or Ibanez snubbed, and were Felix and ‘Kuma deserving?