When it comes to All-Star Games, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond hasn’t had good luck. Last season, he was selected as a reserve for the National League team, but couldn’t make the trip to Kansas City because of injury.
This season, he deserves a spot on the NL’s 34-man squad, but he has to go up against Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig, 24, in the fans’ voting for the final roster spot. Puig is a five-tool player who has developed into a rock star sensation since coming to the big leagues a month ago. And Puig has a fan base that would make any political party smile after he received 842,000 write-in votes on the regular ballot. Plus, his teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, has thrown his support to Puig.
That has to make him the odds-on favorite to beat Desmond, Gonzalez, the Braves’ Freddie Freeman and the Giants’ Hunter Pence on the Final Vote, which ends Thursday at 4 p.m.
The debate is whether Puig has played enough to get All-Star consideration. The argument is that the game belongs to the fans, and if the fans want him, he deserves to be there, even though he’s been in the majors a month. Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon called Puig’s candidacy a joke. That’s the argument in the traditional sense.
But if the NL were serious about winning home field advantage in the World Series, perhaps Puig would be the perfect backup outfielder. He plays all three outfield positions. He has a cannon arm and hits for average and power. Plus, he’ll attract TV viewers.
The NL has enough outfielders with Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer and Andrew McCutchen backing up Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez and Bryce Harper.
The NL’s shortstop position will be thin, especially in Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t return from injury. He’s the elected starter and may or may not play. If Tulowitzki isn’t ready, the NL’s starting shortstop will be Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, the players’ choice. That leaves San Diego’s Everth Cabrera as the lone backup.
Desmond not being selected might be the biggest snub in either league, and keeping him off the roster wasn’t the best strategic move by the NL. An injury might work in Desmond’s favor.
If not, fans need to make the correction.