At the outset of the 2019 MLB season, the Philadelphia Phillies appeared all but certain to snap their streak of five consecutive years with just one representative at the All-Star Game. That almost certainly won’t happen now.
Friday evening – of all times – MLB announced the results of the first round of their new All-Star voting system, which they called “The Primary.” The goal of the primary was to trim down each position to three finalists to start. The second phase, which is being called “Election Day,” will open on June 26 at noon eastern and wrap up at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday June 27. The Phillies will have a grand total of zero players on the Election Day ballot.
The two Phillies with a serious chance to make it to the second round of All-Star voting were right fielder Bryce Harper and catcher J.T. Realmuto. Per the last update, both found themselves just short of making it to the second round. Those results held, which they probably shouldn’t have if this system were simply about finding the very best performers at their positions.
Harper entered the evening with just 12 home runs, which is an underwhelming mark by the standards of the 13-year/$330 million deal he signed in March. But nine National League outfielders advanced to the second round of All-Star voting. The 26-year-old, who has made six All-Star teams, entered the evening with 50 RBIs and a .357 on-base percentage. There’s a legitimate case to be made that St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna or Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta are having seasons on par or better than Harper, and he may be deserving of finding himself on the outside looking in. But neither of those two are moving to the second round, instead with the trio of Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. – all three of the Chicago Cubs starting outfielders – advancing. Heyward is hitting .250 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 2019. Schwarber is hitting .235 with 16 home runs and 35 RBIs. Almora is hitting .255 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs.
Realmuto appears to be the more glaring omission from the second round of All-Star voting. While Realmuto has yet to hit his stride offensively – he entered the evening slashing .269/.327/.442 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs – he’s already thrown out 22 would-be basestealers and has nine defensive runs saved. His 2.6 fWAR is second among catchers in the league, trailing only Yasmani Grandal of the Milwaukee Brewers. Grandal, deservingly, moved on to the next round. It’s also hard to argue against Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras – who tops Realmuto in most offensive marks, but pales in comparison defensively – moving forward. But Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, already a seven-time All-Star, hasn’t had a better season than Realmuto. It’s not that McCann hasn’t had an excellent career, but he actually doesn’t even have as many at-bats in 2019 as Tyler Flowers, the Braves other catcher.
Technically, these elections are just to decide the starters. One would think, though, that reserves will largely come from players that advance to the second round of the election and aren’t ultimately voted starters. The problem with that is that each team still has to have an All-Star. So there’s a very real possibility that one of Harper or Realmuto will end up as an All-Star because of that.
The only other candidates on the Phillies roster seemingly would be Hector Neris and Zach Eflin. Neris has a 2.67 ERA, 2.94 FIP and has converted on 15 of 16 save attempts in 2019. Fans don’t vote on which pitchers make the game. Eflin is 6-7 with a 2.83 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.6 fWAR and two complete games. Both have had strong seasons worthy of All-Star consideration, but neither are probably deserving of being tabbed if you don’t factor in that each team is required to have an All-Star.
The 2019 MLB All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
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