Blake Snell has been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in all baseball through the 2018 season. During his third season in Tampa Bay, he’s unexpectedly led the Rays to a record on the plus-side of .500 (46-44) and put himself in serious contention for the American League Cy Young Award.
However, it seems that because Snell doesn’t play routinely in the national spotlight for a blue-chip club, his All-Star ability is going unnoticed by much of the country. The Rays only posted one All-Star selection in Wilson Ramos, a catcher in a league without great depth behind the plate.
In a previous column from June 14, I claimed that the World Cup is the greatest event in sports.
All of the AL’s starting pitcher selections play in markets much larger than Tampa. The Yankees, Red Sox and Indians lead the majors with five All-Stars, and each contributed two pitchers along with the World Series champion Astros.
Of course, the selections of the Yankee’s Luis Severino, the Red Sox’s Chris Sale, the Astros’ Gerrit Cole and the Indians’ Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are undisputed.
However, Snell has posted a better earned-run average than all of them (2.09), as he leads the AL in that statistic. He’s also second only to Severino in the MLB in wins (12) and 10th in the AL in wins above replacement regardless of position (4.3). Even though the crop consists of established, elite talent, Snell deserves a nod over at least one of these All-Star mainstays.
Jose Berrios of the Minnesota Twins and J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays were both selected to the AL All-Star roster instead of Snell. Both Berrios and Happ are not featured in the Leagues’ top-10 in ERA, WAR among pitchers or strikeouts. Snell appears on all three lists.
Berrios (8-7) and Happ (10-5) headline their respective rotations but have both struggled as of late. They’ve each lost their last two starts, giving up at least three earned runs in their respeective outings.
Snell (12-4), on the other hand, has four-straight victories and hasn’t relinquished more than one earned run in each of those starts.
The hot arm is who the American League should be going to in the All-Star game. Snell has been pitching better than both Berrios and Happ lately and would be comfortable on the mound with Ramos behind the plate.
Perhaps if the Astros’ Justin Verlander isn’t available in time for the contest on July 17, Snell will find himself with his first All-Star selection by replacing the injured right-hander.