Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
At best, Stephen Strasburg will be 4-1 when All-Star rosters are announced.
But the movement has gained steam over the last 10 days, bolstered by Strasburg's continued dominance, and suddenly it doesn't sound like such a far-fetched idea after all. Why wouldn't Charlie Manuel want to have this guy in his bullpen to help win an exhibition game that could ensure home-field advantage for his Phillies in the World Series? And what fan wouldn't want to see Strasburg stare down Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis and Robinson Cano in the eighth inning of a one-run ballgame?
There are plenty of reasons why Strasburg should be an All-Star. Here, though, are more reasons why he shouldn't go to Anaheim...
1. He'll only have been in the majors for one month. Manuel must announce his reserves and pitching staff on July 4, one day after Strasburg is scheduled to make his sixth start of the season. Six starts! That's one-sixth of a full season. Yes, it's somewhat absurd that all players are judged on only three months' worth of performance, but at least that's 50 percent of a full season. Because of his no-decision last week and his loss yesterday, Strasburg at best could be 4-1 when the roster is announced. No matter what the rest of his numbers look like, is 4-1 worthy of an All-Star berth?
2. He can't be the Nationals' lone representative. It's possible the Nats will place two players on the NL squad, but it's tough to see that happening if they're languishing in last place at the time. In the club's five previous seasons of existence, only in 2005 did they send two players to the All-Star Game (Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez). And that team held the NL's best record at the break. There are several worthy candidates on this year's club, from Ryan Zimmerman to Ivan Rodriguez to Matt Capps to Adam Dunn to Tyler Clippard. At least one of those guys has to be selected. Two of them absolutely deserve to be picked. It would be entirely unfair to all of them if Strasburg is taken instead and is the only player wearing the curly W at the midsummer classic.
3. He could use the time off. Since arriving in D.C. earlier this month, Strasburg has been under a constant microscope. Every pitch of his is analyzed and scrutinized. Every run he surrenders is cause for uproar. Every strikeout he records is heralded like none before. On top of all that, he's scheduled to pitch more this season -- and under far-more strenuous circumstances -- than he has any previous year of his life. The Nats have set up a schedule that allows him to take some much-need time off over the break, giving him perhaps 10 or more days between starts so he can recharge and prepare for the second half. The All-Star Game, while a cool experience for all who participate, also is an exhausting ordeal. Players have been known to struggle in the immediate aftermath of the event and not recover for a while.
4. Strasburg doesn't believe he deserves it. This may be the most-important point. If we've learned nothing else about this 21-year-old since he was drafted last summer, we've learned that he is incredibly humble and doesn't seek out attention. His press conferences have become uncomfortable exercises as Strasburg cringes every time he's asked about "the hype" and everything else that doesn't have to do with his actual performance on the field. He always makes a point to deflect credit to his teammates. He insists he's not the face of the Nationals franchise, not at this incredibly delicate stage of his career. He doesn't believe he's accomplished anything yet. The All-Star Game is nothing but a two-day extravaganza of personal accolades. The day before the game, players sit behind individual daises and spend one full hour talking to every media outlet in attendance. The same questions are asked dozens of times by reporters from every outlet known to man (newspapers, websites, TV stations, radio stations) from the United States, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico and countless others. No player really relishes that ordeal, but Strasburg in particular would abhor it at this point. He would be the center of attention in a room full of his sport's greatest players, and he wouldn't believe he deserved to take the spotlight away from everyone else.
Look, it would be a great story: Most-hyped rookie in baseball history makes the All-Star Game after only six career starts. But it's probably not the right thing to do right now. And Strasburg would be the first to agree with that.