The 2014 MLB All-Star rosters were announced over the holiday weekend with teams comprised of the best players in baseball and 25 first-time All-Stars named to the Midsummer Classic. The rosters are not officially set with one spot open to both squads based upon fan voting, which will be finalized Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Chicago White Sox pitcher, and serious Cy Young contender, Chris Sale has not made the roster and this should absolutely come as a surprise to baseball fans everywhere.
His absence on the roster might have to do with the fact that Sale missed a month of basbeall this season with a flexor strain in his pitching elbow. It was even believed that Sale might have required Tommy John surgery had the injury gotten any worse. The reality of the situation is that Sale’s has yet to slow down from his impressive 2013 campaign, which he was appropriately named to the All-Star team.
This season Sale is 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 13 games started. In those 13 games, where he has pitched 87.1 innings, he has amassed 96 strikeouts and given up 60 hits and only 21 earned runs. The White Sox ace also has an 0.87 WHIP and a 3.7 WAR, which ranks him fourth in the American League behind All-Stars Masahiro Tanaka, Mark Buehrle, and Felix Hernandez.
The biggest issue for Sale’s absence on the All-Star roster might be the little national exposure he receives, which then translates into fan votes. Even though he is a two time All-Star and has finished in the top six for Cy Young voting the past two seasons, Sale plays for a White Sox team that has generally remained in the back of the American League Central during his four years in the majors. What might hurt Sale’s national attention this season even more than playing in Chicago could possibly be the emergence of Jose Abreu, who is on pace for a record setting rookie campaign.
I don’t want to believe that Sale is not an All-Star because he plays in Chicago or that he is somehow overshadowed by his teammates. I personally believe that baseball fans have yet to truly appreciate the resume the young left-hander has put together. If you were to make a direct comparison to Sale and arguably the most exciting and publicized pitcher in the game, Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, you would be surprised to see that both pitchers are having equivalent statistical seasons.
Kershaw also had a stint on the disabled list this season, but since returning to the Dodgers in early May he has nearly been lights out in every outing. Both Sale and Kershaw have made 13 starts this season and pitched in 87.1 innings. In those starts, Kershaw edges out Sale with a 10-2 record, yet the rest of their stats are remarkably similar. Kershaw has allowed 64 hits and only 18 earned runs, while also fanning 115 batters and walking only 18. His ERA is very comparable to Sale at 1.85 and his WAR of 3.8 is only slightly better than the White Sox starter. And if we want to use WAR as an appropriate evaluation of talent, the American League All-Star starters have a combined WAR of 27.9 this season compared to the National League’s 25.3, meaning that in some regards Sale has the edge on Kershaw in talent they have pitched against.
Sale will have to have an incredible second half of the season if he wants to give Tanaka a run for the American League Cy Young award. Even if he doesn’t make the All-Star team this year, Sale has remained positive throughout the voting process and stays optimistic the fans will do the right thing.
“I don’t think there’s anybody on the All-Star team who you can say, ‘Oh, he definitely doesn’t deserve to be there.’ It’s just one of those things that, ‘Hey, if you want to make it, don’t miss any time. Stay healthy.’ That was a big part of it, missing a lot of time. This whole process is going to be fun to me anyway, so maybe it will be a blessing in disguise and I’ll have some fun with this.”
There are still 24 hours for Sale to get the votes he needs. To be honest, I do not have an answer as to why Chris Sale is not an All-Star and he is down to a final vote. I know that he had my vote prior to the announcement of the rosters because he is among the best pitchers in the game and deserves to represent his team in Minneapolis next week. At the very least, I hope for the 25-year old that this ‘snub’ as some might call it, opens up the eyes to baseball fans who have yet to witness the greatness of Chris Sale.