Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on the Stephen Strasburg All-Star debate. Some excellent points made on both sides of the argument, which underscores just how unique this situation is. There is no comparable rookie from past seasons, no precedent that dictates whether Strasburg should go to Anaheim or not. It makes for a fascinating debate.
The Strasburg back-and-forth, though, opened up another debate. Assuming he isn't picked -- or assuming he's not the Nationals' lone All-Star -- who else is most-deserving of the spot on the NL roster?
I think you could probably make a case for any of seven different players: Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Ivan Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Tyler Clippard, Josh Willingham and Livan Hernandez. Obviously, some have better arguments than others, and in all likelihood only one of these guys (maybe two) is going to wind up on the team.
Here, then, are the pros and cons for each candidate...
Pros: He's the best all-around third baseman in the National League. He ranks second at his position in the NL in OPS, second in slugging, third in on-base percentage, third in homers, second in runs. And he's widely considered the best defensive third baseman in the game.
Cons: He's been in a slump the last two weeks, hitting .170 with only three RBI his last 13 games. He hasn't been as good defensively this year as he was last year.
Pros: He's been one of the most productive offensive players in baseball this season. He ranks second in the NL in home runs, fourth in slugging, seventh in OPS and second in total bases.
Cons: Despite his numbers, he's never been thought of around the game as an All-Star (he's appeared in only one midsummer classic, in 2002). He also plays the deepest position in the NL, dominated by the likes of Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez.
Pros: He's already a 14-time All-Star who is putting together his best season in a while, earning praise both for his offensive prowess and for his work with Strasburg. He leads all regular NL catchers in batting average and is second in doubles.
Cons: He hasn't played as much as several other catchers in the league, both because of his back injury and because of his age. He hasn't been an All-Star since 2007 and isn't the player he once was.
Pros: He leads the majors in saves and was successful in his first 16 save opportunities this year.
Cons: His 3.51 ERA is nothing special, and he's probably the Nats' third-best reliever behind Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.
Pros: He ranks sixth in the NL in wins ... and he's a reliever. He's got a 1.58 ERA and a 53-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Cons: He's cooled off some since his ridiculously dominant start to the season. Setup men rarely get selected to the All-Star Game, and there are several other deserving ones this year.
Pros: Ranks fourth in NL in on-base percentage, third in walks. Putting together the best season of his career.
Cons: Like Zimmerman, has cooled off in the last two weeks, batting .205 since June 11. Plays the outfield, which includes such NL stars as Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Andre Ethier, Jayson Werth, Manny Ramirez and Jason Heyward.
Pros: He's ranked among the league-leaders in ERA all season and has posted 11 quality starts in 14 outings.
Cons: His ERA has risen more than a point over the last month. He's earned only two wins in the last six weeks.
I'm curious to know what you think. If you could pick only one of these Nationals to represent the franchise in the All-Star Game, who would it be?