It's certainly no shock to the human system that the Kansas City Royals have no starters on this year's Major League Baseball's American League All-Star squad. All but one place on the teams that will represent both leagues for the Midsummer Classic to be played July 12 at Chase Field, home of the NL Arizona Diamondbacks, in downtown Phoenix, were announced earlier today to a cable-TV audience in another one of those much-hyped national-selection-show formats.
I mean, let's face it, folks, the Royals probably don't deserve to have a player on the 34-man AL All-Star roster - not this year, anyway - and they probably wouldn't have were it not for the rule that each of the MLB teams much have representation on the team. For less-than-stellar, smaller-market teams like the Royals, Oakland, Baltimore and Toronto, that means one player max in most years.
Alex Gordon is probably having the best season of any Royal at the midway point of the season. Most experts and fans felt Gordan was the most logical and deserving choice to be selected to the team if it came down to one player from Kansas City to fill out the requisite roster spot. It's not really a very difficult decision, really, when you look at the numbers.
Through Saturday's games, Gordon was leading the Royals in hitting with a 3.01 average and in slugging percentage at .491. He is second in Home runs (10) and RBIs (46) to fellow outfield starter Jeff Francoeur and is also the team leader in hits (98), doubles (24) and triples (4). Gordon, a converted infielder now starting in left field, has been playing outstanding defense, as well, including a major-league high 13 outfield assists (throwing out runners at home plate and other bases). The 27-year old former No. 1 draft pick by Kansas City (second overall) in 2005 is having his best year in his five major-league seasons.
Like I said, a pretty simple choice when it comes right down to it. Only AL All-Star manager Ron Washington of 2010 AL-pennant-winner Texas apparently didn't see it the same way. With the roster already set with two outfielders at each position, Washington was more interested in adding pitchers in filling out his All-Star roster needs. That opened the door for the selection of rookie relief pitcher Aaron Crow as Royals' representative on the 2011 AL All-Star team.
If it comes down to selecting the best pitcher this season on a Kansas City pitching staff that statistically is the worst in the major leagues, and easily the team's Achilles heel in another disappointing season thus far, Crow stands out and is arguably the most deserving of the Royals hurlers. The former University of Missouri product and 2008 top pick of the Royals in the 2008 MLB amateur draft, has a team-leading 1.36 ERA and 2-1 record in 33 relief appearances for Kansas City this season. He leads the Royals with eight holds and has 39 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings of work.
It's not that Crow doesn't deserve praise for his strong rookie performance this season, but there is no reason he should be Kansas City's lone selection to represent the team on the 2011 AL All-Star squad. That player should be Gordon.
The Kansas City left fielder still has a chance to make the team as the 34th and last roster addition, but he must beat out four other deserving All-Stars in a vote by MLB fans. And, frankly, his chances are not that good, considering he is up against first-baseman Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox, catcher Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers, second-baseman Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones. Only one of those candidates will be added to the team. And that is a travesty because Gordon should have been chosen from Kansas City as part of the primary selection process.
Playing the odds, Konerko and Martinez, coming from larger markets, should command more votes based purely on population pull if not their first-half stats. Their statistical advantage should make the difference, though. Chicago's Konerko is hitting .317, with 21 home runs, 62 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .954. Martinez is batting .335, one of the top-ten hitters in the league, with an .873 on-base percentage and a .490 slugging percentage. Kansas City's Gordon has better first-half numbers than either Zobrist or Jones, but that probably won't matter.
Anyway you look at this situation, it just plain stinks, and there's really no compelling reason for it. Alex Gordon deserves to be the American League All-Star selection from Kansas City, and at this late hour that does not appear to be happening.