Every major league team gets at least one player in the All-Star Game, a rule that Major League Baseball put in place to ensure that every organization and fanbase is represented and has a chance to cheer on one of its players during the Midsummer Classic.
The Nationals, who currently are nine games over .500, have won 11 of their last 15 and are just a half-game out of the lead in the National League East, had just one player announced as a member of the NL All-Star team yesterday.
Jordan Zimmermann will head to Minneapolis next week for the All-Star festivities, an honor he earned mostly because of his performance over the last five weeks, when he's posted a 1.26 ERA over seven starts.
Anthony Rendon is one of five candidates to win the NL Final Vote, which is determined by fan voting online (MLB.com/vote) on Twitter (use the hashtag #VoteRendon to cast a vote for the Nats' infielder) and mobile devices (text "N3" to 89269 to vote for Rendon).
Prior to yesterday's game, Nationals players were made aware that Zimmermann was the team's All-Star selection and that Rendon was a part of the Final Vote. They were excited for both guys, but less than pleased that Rendon didn't make the team outright, and also that other candidates were overlooked.
Among those candidates, Rafael Soriano seems to have the biggest case as an All-Star snub this season. Soriano has recorded 21 saves in 23 chances, has a sparkling 1.03 ERA and has allowed just 18 hits in 35 innings.
Adam LaRoche has the eighth-best OPS in the NL and has been a consistent offensive force this season.
Still, as of right now, Zimmermann is the only National heading to Target Field next week.
"I think there's a couple other guys that are deserving as well," Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think Anthony, if he doesn't get on it, then I'm gonna boycott the All Star Game. I think (LaRoche) and (Soriano) are very good candidates as well. But the All Star Game isn't really what it used to be. I think a lot of people don't get recognized that should. Hopefully they will, but if not, there's really nothing you can do about it."
"I think there are a couple other guys that are deserving to go," Denard Span said. "Rendi is in the running for it, so hopefully he gets it, but I think he's been an All-Star. You can argue for Soriano. He's been lights out. You can argue for Adam. About two or three guys extra that should be acknowledged.
"We've been playing good baseball as a team. We're pretty much a first-place team and we've only got one guy. I think that's a little odd. We'll see what happens. Hopefully Rendi gets on. And we'll have two guys representing the Washington Nationals."
It is a bit strange to see a team this close to the division lead with just one All-Star as of right now, but that's partly due to injuries. If LaRoche hadn't landed on the 15-day disabled list with a quad issue, his numbers might've been good enough to land him on the NL All-Star roster. Bryce Harper made the team the last two years, but he missed over two months with a thumb injury. Zimmerman also was out an extended time with a thumb issue.
The Nats might be disappointed that they don't have more representation at the Midsummer Classic, but in a sense, it speaks to what the Nats have been able to do so far this season despite the fact they haven't had three or four dominant performers. Lots of guys are contributing, and this team has battled through injuries to put itself in a good spot as we approach the break.
"I think that it's a function of where we've come from," manager Matt Williams said. "We've been over it a million times. At any given time, we had 300 RBI on the DL. So they're not going to stack numbers. If you miss significant time, it just won't happen. So that's a consideration. We look at the back-of-the-bullpen guys, and they've been great. That's not a vote. I'm sure Mike (Matheny, Cardinals skipper, who is managing the NL All-Star team) took a hard look at everybody that's deserving and available. Regardless of whether they are added or something happens, we're proud of the way they have performed.
"I'm proud of them. They've really done well. The most important thing for us is to win more baseball games. It's certainly not my decision. It's certainly not their decision. Good, bad or indifferent, make it or not make it, they're going to continue to go out there and perform for us."