How can a player with a .700 OPS become a “snub” for the MLB All-Star Game?
Ask Jason Heyward, who firmly falls into that category.
The 24-year-old Heyward began the season struggling mightily with the bat, and a result, his slash line of .242/.336/.364 leaves a lot to be desired offensively. However, the versatile outfielder has added 8 home runs and 9 stolen bases to get himself going toward a near 20-20 pace, and most importantly, Jason Heyward is arguably the best defensive corner outfielder in the game today, and in all honestly, clearly performing as the best in that category among National League options.
In front of him, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison were selected, but with a deeper dive, it is fairly clear that Heyward is the best player of the three. Blackmon was selected firmly on the strength of impressive offensive numbers (.291/.339/.457 with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases), but a great deal of that production was achieved in Coors Field, and his fWAR (1.5) and rWAR (1.6) lag considerably behind Heyward’s fWAR of 2.8 and rWAR of 3.4.
The opposition to advanced statistics can be significant, but in simple terms, Heyward’s defense is far superior to either of the other players, and that has led to his overall “value” being increased. In the case of Harrison (who is listed as an outfielder on the official selection announcement), he receives a bump for his positional flexibility on the offensive side, but his OPS is only about 80 points higher (not insignificant, but still) in nearly 150 fewer plate appearances, and his defensive prowess isn’t nearly that of Heyward.
Is there a small amount of bias based on the Atlanta-based nature of this space? Absolutely, but a quick peak at the numbers explains why Jason Heyward was deserving of an All-Star game roster spot over at least two of the selected players.