A sign of the improvement the Royals have made this season can be seen in the fan reaction to having only two representatives at the All-Star Game.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Hey, where’s closer Greg Holland, right?
My beef isn’t necessarily about his exclusion. It’s with the Final Five group for the American League. That’s where Holland should be included.
The fans will be voting for the last AL representative from a group of five set-up men? Nothing against Toronto’s Steve Delabar, Boston’s Koji Uehara, Texas’ Tanner Scheppers, Yankees’ David Robertson and Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit, but ... yuck.
And, really, Holland (who has experience as a set-up guy — just look back a year ago at this time) would be a better choice than any of those five.
For starters, Holland has a 1.47 FIP (a sabermetric formula that is seen as a more accurate calculation of a pitcher’s skill than ERA), which is the lowest in the American League among pitchers who have thrown 30 innings (via FanGraphs).
His WHIP in 13 June games was 0.62, which was tied with Uehara for the eighth-best of any AL pitcher. Additionally, Holland’s WAR of 1.4 (again, using FanGraphs) is better than those five, but that’s expected with a closer, right?
Want some traditional numbers to back up Holland’s candidacy? He’s converted his last 13 save chances, during which he has a 0.86 ERA with a ridiculous 37 strikeouts to four walks.
Holland’s 15.27 strikeouts per nine innings is also tops in the AL and would certainly come in handy in an All-Star Game.
One of the joys (or frustrations, depending on your point of view) with the All-Star Game is the chatter about the snubs. Maybe there wasn’t room for another closer as the AL has three, and it is a nice group. Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera are big-name relievers, while Glen Perkins is having a solid season and probably benefits from being a lefty.
But Holland would have been good addition to the Final Five. Heck, even if he wasn’t, there are some pretty good players who would elicit more excitement for fan voting.
Some that come to mind: Oakland’s Jed Lowrie, Grant Balfour and Josh Donaldson; Texas’ Derek Holland and Adrian Beltre; Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Iglesias; and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
The Final Five voting is another instance of the dichotomy of the All-Star Game. Is it more important to compile a roster that can win an exhibition game or give the fans a chance to see the game’s best players?
I believe it’s the latter, and that’s why baseball fans should have a chance to vote in Holland or some of the other deserving candidates.
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