It is an annual tradition to critique the lists of players who are named — or not named — to MLB All-Star Game rosters.
While the teams each year are composed of the best of the best, there will always be players who miss the cut but should have been on the team. Whether they missed out because of crowded positions, a lack of available spots on the roster or just an oversight, those players will feel as though they were unfairly left off.
This year is no different, of course. Pitchers with legitimate Cy Young chances didn’t make the cut. Feared sluggers will be giving their bats a rest.
The Sporting News is weighing in on 10 players — five from each league — who should have made a 2022 All-Star roster.
American League snubs
Ty France, 1B, Mariners
France had quite the journey to All-Star snub: he went from finalist to start the All-Star Game to missing it entirely. He received the second-most votes among AL first basemen but finished behind the Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the second phase of voting. The Mariners have largely been carried by rookie phenom Julio Rodriguez, the team’s lone representative, but France has as strong a case as anyone to be on the team.
France leads all American League first basemen with an .851 OPS and .310 batting average. He is second in Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), trailing only the White Sox’s Jose Abreu. Overall, France owns a .310/.384/.467 slash line with 10 home runs, a 6.5 percent walk rate and a 14.2 percent strikeout rate. He feels like a clear miss.
Taylor Ward, OF, Angels
Any player on a team with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout is going to fall under the radar some. That appears to be the case with Ward. He has the second-best offensive fWAR on the team at 2.6, trailing only Trout’s 3.7 and ahead of Ohtani’s 1.7 (Ohtani also has 2.6 pitching fWAR).
But Ward’s numbers aren’t just impressive when compared with his fellow Angels stars. His .920 OPS and his 162 wRC+ rank behind only Yordan Alvarez, Aaron Judge and Trout among MLB outfielders, and his 13.4 percent walk rate is fourth-best in the American League. Ward has launched 12 home runs to go with a slash line of .301/.393/.527 that in most years would be more than enough to earn him a spot on the All-Star team.
Dylan Cease, SP, White Sox
The White Sox seem to get breakout, All-Star campaigns from pitchers every couple of years. In 2019, it was Lucas Giolito. In 2021, it was Carlos Rodon. This year, it has been Cease, who, despite his numbers, was not named an AL All-Star.
Only one starting pitcher has been better at striking out batters in 2022, and that’s Rays ace Shane McClanahan. Cease’s 34.3 percent strikeout rate is just behind McClanahan’s 36 percent. His ability to miss bats means he also ranks among the league’s ERA leaders. He’s fourth among AL starting pitchers behind McClanahan, the Astros' Justin Verlander and the Blue Jays' Alek Manoah, all of whom are All-Stars. Cease has had issues with walks (his 11.1 percent rate is the most among starters), but his overall results should have earned him an All-Star nod.
Kevin Gausman, SP, Blue Jays
There is probably not a player who stands out more on the AL snubs list than Gausman. The Toronto ace is a Cy Young contender; he has pitched to a 2.86 ERA in 88 innings and compiled an MLB-best 3.7 fWAR. There were plenty of deserving pitchers in the American League, but few should have been named over him.
More numbers: Gausman has the fifth-best strikeout rate in the AL (27 percent) and the second-lowest walk rate (4.3 percent). He has allowed a .270 opponents' batting average, but he has allowed the fewest HR/9 of any qualifying staring pitcher (0.20). He’s also in the 99th percentile for chase rate, per Baseball Savant. He has a case as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, but he won’t have the chance to make the trip to Los Angeles.
Michael King, RP, Yankees
Clay Holmes rightfully earned an AL All-Star nod as one of the best relievers in baseball, but his teammate King had a strong case of his own. Yet, as of Sunday, he will not be among the players headed to Los Angeles.
Among qualified relievers, only four American League pitchers had a better strikeout rate than King’s 34.3 percent, and none had a better fWAR than his 1.5 (which was tied with Holmes). Among pitchers who have not started a game this season, King has thrown the third-most innings at 46 1/3, and he is tied for the 11th-most appearances with at least two innings pitched. He has inherited the 11th-most runners in the American League (20) but is tied for second-fewest inherited runs to score (three). All that and a sterling 2.33 ERA.
National League snubs
Josh Bell, 1B, Nationals
There can only be so many first basemen named to a roster, and both Paul Goldschmidt and Pete Alonso have had outstanding campaigns. But Bell has done enough this season to merit his second All-Star selection.
His overall numbers are impressive in their own right. He has a .308/.389/.497 slash line, 12 home runs, a 10.8 walk rate and a 13.3 strikeout rate. The latter two stats give him a 0.81 BB/K ratio, which is the third-best in the NL, behind only All-Star teammate Juan Soto and Padres utility player Jurickson Profar. His 145 wRC+ is ninth-best in the National League, with all eight of the batters ahead of him having made the All-Star team. He’s also a matchup nightmare: the switch hitter has an .892 OPS against right-handed pitchers and an .876 OPS against lefties.
Brandon Drury, 3B, Reds
The Reds have been among the worst teams in baseball, so it is unsurprising to see them with only one representative in the All-Star Game. Most surprising, however, might be that it was not Drury. After being signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, Drury has been Cincinnati’s best hitter with 18 home runs and a .278/.335/.542 slash line as the team’s primary third baseman.
Among all third basemen in baseball, only Rafael Devers, Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado and Austin Riley have a better OPS than Drury’s .878, and his 18 home runs rank third at the position. He has been worth 2.3 fWAR, which ranks fourth among NL third basemen. His breakout campaign has certainly been worthy of a first career All-Star appearance.
Austin Riley, 3B, Braves
Speaking of third basemen who should have been All-Stars, Riley certainly fits that description. The position is stacked at the top with Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, but Riley did more than enough to warrant his first career All-Star selection.
His .897 OPS ranks fourth among anyone at the position in baseball, and his 3.0 fWAR places him fifth behind Machado, Devers, Arenado and Ramirez, who all made the All-Star team. His 22 home runs are the most at the position. But Riley’s success extends beyond just the hot corner. That fWAR is tied for 14th in MLB with Freddie Freeman — another potential snub — and that OPS ranks 12th. Outside of Dansby Swanson, he has been the most impactful hitter for a Braves team that is among the best clubs in baseball.
Carlos Rodon, SP, Giants
The National League is loaded with All-Star Game-worthy starting pitchers, so there were always going to be a few deserving ones who didn’t make the cut. But many people thought Rodon would make it to Los Angeles, and their surprise over the fact that didn’t is very justified.
Rodon has built off his breakout 2021 campaign with the White Sox and gotten off to a phenomenal start in his first year with the Giants after signing as a free agent in the offseason. His 3.7 fWAR leads all National League pitchers, and his 31 percent strikeout rate is second-best among NL starters and fifth-best in all of baseball. His 2.13 FIP is the lowest among National League starters, his 2.70 ERA is the eighth-lowest and his .202 opponents' batting average is the fifth-lowest in the NL behind four All-Stars. If he wins the Cy Young award, he’ll look like an even more glaring omission.
Editor’s note: Carlos Rodon was added to the NL All-Star roster on Tuesday, July 12, as a replacement for Brewers' reliever Josh Hader.
Zack Wheeler, SP, Phillies
Wheeler was the runner-up in NL Cy Young voting in 2021 after an All-Star campaign, and he is off to another impressive start in 2022. But this time around, his low ERA and gaudy strikeout numbers weren’t enough to get him to Los Angeles.