For the first time in six years, the Pittsburgh Pirates will not send an outfielder to the All-star game. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen has only recently found his groove again and last year’s representative, Starling Marte, is still suspended. This time the Pirates will have to rely on some different positions to represent them. There was not a single Pittsburgh Pirate in contention for making the All-star game via the most recent fan vote. If the fans don’t vote for a player, then it is up to Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon to select a Pittsburgh pitcher or reliever. The Pirates may have a losing record, but there are few players more than deserving of an all-star nod.
The lockdown representative is lockdown reliever, Felipe Rivero. It honestly isn’t even a question that he’ll be in Miami.
He currently has the second best ERA in the NL (0.86), third in reliever WAR (1.2), tenthin K/BB (4.16), and fourth in win probability added (2.30). He’s also an entertaining pitcher to watch since he can get his fastball up to 100 mph.
The only strike (forgive me) against Rivero is that he doesn’t have many saves since he only recently took over as a closer. Regardless of his pitching role he has been DOMINANT all season.
Starter Ivan Nova doesn’t have quite as a concrete case as Felipe, but Nova will not wait long for a call to Miami. Ivan Nova has turned his career around ever since magic man by night, Pirates pitching coach by day, Ray Searage got his hands on him. Nova is currently eighth in ERA (3.08), third in IP (108.0), tenth in starter WAR (1.8), fifth in K/BB (4.62, ahead of Stephen Strasburg), and is tied for league lead in complete games (two). All those numbers together sure look like an all-star.
It would be a travesty if Nova didn’t get an invite to Miami, he’s worked hard to bounce back from his rough time in New York and he has earned this accolade.
We’ve gone over the two obvious Pirates deserving of the title all star but there is one more player on the team who is deserving and is flying way, way, under the radar. He’s been an all star before….hails from Ohio…is king of the dance….its Josh Harrison of course! No that is not a joke. Name three second baseman better than Josh this year…. Well whatever you thought you’re wrong. There was only two: Jose Altuve and Daniel Murphy. Harrison has finally been healthy and it’s showing. He’s third in second basemen WAR (2.3) just behind Murphy (2.4). He has a batting line of .295/.374/.838 (avg/obp/ops). Admittedly, his bat is not as sexy as Daniel Murphy’s but he makes up a lot of ground with his range
and absolute love of the game. Don’t forget nimbleness on the base paths.
Just look at the smile! How can you deny the all star game a smile like that?
Besides what is Javier Baez (.259/.296/.763), Brandon Phillips (.300/.343/.795), or Kolton Wong (.301/.393/.838 in 45 games) doing that’s so special that they deserve an all star nod? It’s time for Harrison’s return to the midsummer classic.