WASHINGTON - AUGUST 26: Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on August 26 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Ah, it's Wednesday, and most of us are probably still getting over our All Star Game hangover, right? (No.)
Either way, most of the talk about this year's game focused on the ridiculous number of replacements that were needed for this year's rosters, leading to some calls that the game has lost meaning to players. But for every Aramis Ramirez that couldn't really care less about whether he's attending the game, there are dozens of players that would absolutely kill to be a part of the whole thing.
And even after letting a massive 84 players onto this year's rosters, there were still numerous great players that we missed out on; players that likely would've been totally thrilled to share the field with the likes of Roy Halladay, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton. Here are five players that have never played in an All Star Game that probably should, and will- over here at MLBDD, we're hoping that these five guys get in next year.
Jordan Zimmermann - Starting Pitcher - Washington
Honestly, I have no idea how Zimmermann didn't make the team this year. His mainstream numbers are fantastic (2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) and his peripherals are equally as impressive, with a 2.58 FIP and 3.9 K/BB ratio. Armed with a fastball that averages 93 MPH, Zimmermann has legitimate power stuff and knows how to use it, as he's only walked 21 batters in 115 innings so far this season.
At this point, the 25-year-old Zimmermann is clearly one of the best pitchers in the National League, and he's spent the past few months doing a pretty good job of demonstrating that. He's now pitched to the tune of a 3.40 FIP in his first 41 starts with the Nationals, and he should be a fantastic Robin to Stephen Strasburg's Batman when the vaunted ace returns next season. I'd expect there to be a couple of National pitchers in the All Star game next season.
Alexei Ramirez - Shortstop - Chicago (AL)
Most people don't think of Ramirez as a star, but he's quietly developed into arguably the best shortstop in the AL over the past couple years. He won't blow you away offensively, as he doesn't provide top-notch power, hitting ability or on-base skills, but he's solid in all categories, providing roughly average offense year-in, year-out. But that's not where the 29-year-old provides most of his value.
Rather, it's from his spectacular defense as a shortstop and strong base-running skills that push Ramirez into the top category of AL shortstops. Routinely one of the best base-runners in the game according to UBR, Ramirez has also developed into a plus defender at shortstop over the past three years, making him one of the most well-rounded players in the game. He may not always feel like an All Star while you're pouring over his box scores, but watch him make a couple electrifying plays in the field while making heady moves on the bases, and you'll see why this guy is an impact player in today's game.
Brett Gardner - Left Field - New York (AL)
Gardner is a pretty polarizing player, but the reality is that he's become one of the better outfielders in all of baseball. Arguably the best defensive left fielder in the game now, Gardner is also an elite base-runner that provides excellent on-base skills and surprising power for someone that long held a reputation as a slap hitter.
It's not surprising that Gardner has never made an All Star team, because he doesn't provide great batting averages or power numbers and it's not always easy to quantify the value of defense and base-running, but now he's got an awfully long track record of elite UZR and UBR numbers, indicating that he's clearly among the best in those facets of the game. He's probably not the 6-win player that he's been over the past 1.5 years according to FanGraphs, but he's still a star-level player, and quite deserving of a bid. Hard to believe that a Yankee could actually be underhyped when it comes to All Star perceptions, but that seems to be the case here.
Tommy Hanson - Starting Pitcher - Atlanta
For some reason, there aren't a ton of people that really go crazy about Hanson, even though young pitchers tend to get the heart pumping. I mean, we're talking about a 24-year-old starting pitcher with a sub-3 ERA through the first 433 innings of his MLB career... people should be going nuts over this guy. There simply isn't a more exciting young pitcher in the game that's already this good without having the kind of recognition that you'd expect.
He misses bats, he keeps the ball down in the zone, and he doesn't walk an outrageous number of batters. There's a good chance that Hanson wins a Cy Young at some point during his career- but first, let's just focus on getting him into the All Star Game for next year.
Mike Stanton - Right Field - Florida
There are a bunch of really, really good young players that I could list here, but ultimately I just really want to watch Mike Stanton hit baseballs really far. With a swing so powerful that even the likes of Josh Hamilton and Bryce Harper would likely be impressed, Stanton immediately became one of the premier power hitters in baseball upon his call-up last season, when he was just 20.
Now at just age 21, Stanton already has 40 homers and a .262 isolated power in his first 737 plate appearances; by the time he reaches his prime, it's not unreasonable to believe that he could launch 40+ bombs annually. Already an above-average player thanks to his ridiculous power, a willingness to take pitches and strong defense in right field, Stanton merely needs to cut down on his strikeouts and take a few more walks to push himself into the upper echelon of MLB hitters. And he's already begun that process, too, as he's shown small improvements in his K/BB numbers from last season.
People were already hankering to see the young slugger pound balls out of Chase Field at this year's All Star Game; I expect him to become a staple of the event over the next few years, possibly as soon as next season.