The All-Star game is a funny thing.  It is an exhibition game, so it has no real importance yet it is one of the most debated games in all of baseball.  In fact, I would imagine that in terms of a single game, it is by far the cause of the most debates in baseball.  Oh, and don’t tell me that it actually has importance now because of the home field advantage thing.  There have been 80 All Star games and the American League has won 2 more games than the National League, so basically having home field advantage based on who wins the game is exactly the same as a coin toss.  So, there still is no more “meaning” attached to the All Star Game than previously, and I like that.

I am a huge fan of the All Star game.  It livens up the middle of the season, provides lots of new discussion points and lets me get a good look at some players I don’t usually see on a regular basis.  Also, since I always have and probably always will root for the American League, it gives me a chance to root for guys who I don’t normally get to root for.

One of the great things about the game is the debates it sparks.  Should there be ties (yes), should the pitchers bat(no), should every team get a representative (yes), should the fans vote (yes) and so on.  Locally, the debates rage on regarding which player is more deserving of an All Star spot, and this year in Kansas City is no exception.

By now you have probably heard that relief pitcher Joakim Soria has been named the Royals lone representative to the All Star Game.  Whether or not he is the most deserving Royal depends on how you select players for the game.  So who are the viable Royals All Star Candidates?

Billy Butler

Why he should be an All Star:

He is currently 10th in batting average (.321)  in the American League, 7th in hits (100), tied for 2nd in doubles (25) , and is a rising star.  He is one of the best hitters on the team and has a very good case to make as the best offensive player on the Royals. He is a young talent which would provide a very interesting story for the Royals and for the MLB.

Why he shouldn’t be an All Star:

He still has a lower batting average than two other AL first baseman, leads the league in GIDP (21), and he is fifth in wOBA for his position in the AL.  So while he is a good offensive player for the Royals, he isn’t near the top at his position. He hasn’t really been a DH that much so it would be kind of odd to select him as the teams DH.   Also, he isn’t having the best offensive season on the team….

David Dejesus

Why he should be an All Star:

He is 7th in the league in batting average (.329), 6th in OBP (.396), 6th in hits (102) and 9th in WAR (3.2).  He has been in the league for seven full seasons now and has played very well in all seven.  He is having a career year and it isn’t a complete fluke. He is a solid player having a great season and is having the best offensive season on the Royals.

Why he shouldn’t be an All Star:

His wOBA is 9th among AL outfielders and frankly he hasn’t been as hyped.  The guys on the team like Josh Hamilton (the drugs), Vernon Wells (the not being sucky any more), Ichiro (the legend), Torii Hunter (the HR Robber) all have some sort of hype surrounding them which helps them land on the team.  Carl Crawford and Jose Bautista are having good seasons, and a case could be made for either of them as well.  Frankly, if the Royals were a better team I think Dejesus makes the squad over someone on this list. The biggest problem I have is the fact that Delmon Young is one of the guys on the list for the final fan vote.  Nobody can make a case that he is more deserving than Dejesus or Shin-Soo Choo.

Joakim Soria

Why he should be an All Star:

He leads the league in saves (23) and is one of the best closers in baseball and an All Star team needs relief.  There really aren’t many big name closers in the AL this season and Soria can certainly be argued as one of the best.  He is one of the few Royals most likely to make a solid contribution in the game.  Also, this is obviously the only way the national media will figure out how to pronounce Joakim (hint: nobody except Joakim Noah pronounces it Joe-Kim).

Why he shouldn’t be an All Star:

Its been sort of a rough year in Soria terms.  His ERA is tied for the highest he has had in his career (2.48), but it still isn’t high.  Frankly, as I scan the numbers they aren’t as bad as I had assumed.  It just seems like he is always pitching out of trouble, but he is still a very good pitcher.  I think that he is so good, that we expect more out of him than we should.  Relievers tend to be over-rated in general and I think their value is a little inflated.

Zack Greinke

Why he should be an All Star:

His 2009 season was so dominant that a case could be made that it is worth getting him into the All Star game again this year.  He is also nationally recognized and one of the few Royals that fans of other teams would like to get a look at since he is never on national television.  I would really like to see what the fan votes for pitches would look like, I feel like Greinke could have been voted in.  He is pretty much universally liked and widely known.  He also has the 4th best K/BB ratio in the league (4.6).  The main reason I feel like he should be an All Star is that he really is the best player on the team.  If I could keep one guy from this roster I wouldn’t need a moments hesitation to pick Zack.

Why he shouldn’t be an All Star:

He isn’t near the top in many important categories like SO (12th), ERA (24th), WHIP (14th) and xFIP (10th).  He is still an amazing pitcher but isn’t putting up dominant All Star like numbers.  If he hadn’t been the teams representative last year, then it would be a travesty if he wasn’t selected this year.  As it stands, his first half numbers just don’t force the hands of the people selecting the pitchers.

Before I did this exercise, I kind of thought that Soria was the least qualified of the group to be the teams All Star representative.  However, after looking at all the factors I think I have completely changed my mind.  In many ways he is the best representative for the Royals.  He is having one of the best seasons on the team, he is one of the best if not THE best at his particular position and possibly most importantly the AL team needs his skills.  Who do you think the Royals representative should have been?

Nick podcasts about the Royals at www.brokenbatsingle.com and for some unknown reason roots for the Portland Trailblazers.   He welcomes your questions and comments.  You can contact Nick via email at brokenbatsingle [at] gmail [dot] com, via Twitter @brokenbatsingle and facebook.