CINCINNATI — Two things to remember about the Reds and the All-Star Game this year:
- They’re almost certain to have only one representative.
- It will come down to stats.
My guess is Jay Bruce will be that one guy. More on that later.
Reds manager Bryan Price has made his case for Bruce, Zack Cozart and Adam Duvall. All are worthy candidates, but when your team is on pace to lose 100 games, your team is likely to get only the mandatory one spot.
This is a unique position for the Reds in recent years. They haven’t had just one All-Star since 2009, when Francisco Cordero was the lone representative.
The All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers will be announced Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN’s selection show. Players can get in through the fan vote, the player vote or manager’s selection — in this case Terry Collins, manager of the reigning National League champion New York Mets.
If Price were selecting, he’d rely mostly on numbers. Managers get a very limited look at the league through the first half. The Reds, for example, haven’t played Arizona or Miami.
“With the other teams, we have to pick it up mostly through statistics,” Price said. “Batting average, run production, things of that nature.”
Seeing Bruce, Cozart and Duvall every day has convinced Price they deserve it, but he also thinks the numbers support selection.
“We know Jay Bruce is having a terrific year, and Zack Cozart and Adam,” Price said. “But I looked at the stats and think the guys are worthy of consideration.”
Let’s look at the case for each:
Cozart: He is having a terrific year, particularly for someone coming off a catastrophic knee injury. He went into Friday hitting .263 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI.
The problem? A lot of NL shortstops are having good years, and Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs is going to win the vote. Russell doesn’t deserve it, but the fans in Wrigley are stuffing the ballot box. Corey Seager of the Dodgers (.299, 17 home runs and 40 RBI) is a lock. Colorado’s Trevor Story leads the shortstops in homers (19) and is second in RB1 (50). Brandon Crawford of the Giants and Danny Espinosa of the Nationals also have better WARs (Wins Above Replacement) than Cozart.
It’s a very tough field, and even if Collins took four shortstops, Cozart may not be one of them.
Duvall: He’s the feel-good hit of the season for the Reds. He went into Friday with 22 home runs and 55 RBI. That’s first and second among NL outfielders.
“We all look at numbers, Price said. “The one thing we know in Cincinnati is that he’s played really well. He’s run the bases. He’s been good about throwing base-runners out. And doing some really dynamic things on defense. But we see him every day.”
Duvall is rated first defensively among left fielders in the NL by fangraphs.com. Somehow, though, I doubt that Collins will punch that up on the computer when making his call. Duvall’s .250 average and .287 on-base percentage won’t help him.
Bruce: He went into Friday hitting .279 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI. He was first among NL outfielders in RBI. He’s sixth in on-base plus slugging.
His defensive numbers are way down, according to fangraphs.com. But, again, I don’t expect that to come into play.
Chicago’s Dexter Fowler, Washington’s Bryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets lead the outfield voting. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun are 1-2 in OPS.
I can’t see the Reds getting two outfielder spots. I think Bruce gets it over Duvall because Bruce is better known and his overall offensive stats are slightly better than Duvall’s.
Bruce has been to the All-Star Game twice — in 2010 and ’12.
“I've played worse and made it,” he said. “I've had numbers close to this before and not made it. It's all circumstantial.”
“It’s unfortunate when you’re not necessarily doing great in the standings,” Cozart said. “Adam and Jay deserve it in my eyes. There’s snubs every year. I hope we don’t get too many snubs on our team.”