Jamal has been a writer for Bleacher Report since 2010 focused strictly on the Rays. He has had his work featured on websites such as Forbes, USA Today, CBS Sports, Houston Chronicle and the LA Times. Jamal is a special correspondent for 620wdae.com covering the Tampa Bay Rays.
Jake McGee was not snubbed.
He has absolutely put together one of the best statistical performances of any AL reliever this year but that does not automatically mean he is invited to participate in the Midsummer Classic.
It is the All-Star game and not the All-Stats game for a reason.
Being a star matters and is the reason Evan Longoria was in All-Star Game commercials despite not being selected to a team since 2010.
Fans (voters) want to see their favorite players in the game against other popular players. It’s like a concert; people want to see the best performers not necessarily the most talented vocalists.
In order to make selection based on a criterion of performance, there would need to be a computer making decisions based on complex algorithms (think BCS in college football) and no fan voting.
Of course, then the argument would be that computers don’t know baseball and the selection should include a human element.
The All-Star game always has been and always will be a popularity contest. McGee did not make the cut this year despite having a hot start.
McGee’s 1.16 ERA is the best among AL relievers. It is easy to quantify how good of a season he has had so far with a 3-0 record and five saves in 38.2 IP. He has essentially become the closer of the team without the official title.
That still is not enough to send him to Minnesota.
There are three things that did not work in McGee’s favor when it comes to All-Star selection: he is not popular nationally, he is a reliever, and the Rays were at the bottom of the AL East through selection show.
Who is Jake McGee?
Outside of the Rays broadcast area, people might think he is a khaki-wearing insurance representative. With limited national exposure and no gimmicks to end a game, like untucking a shirt or shooting an arrow, it is hard to get his talents seen by fans across the country.
Relief pitchers are not on the same level as starting pitchers when it comes to All-Star selections. Of the 12 relievers on the AL roster, four are relievers. You can make an argument of McGee’s season compared to the others but they also play on teams that are either the Yankees or among the top two of their division.
The Rays record for the majority of the first half is probably the biggest factor above all else. When a team is winning, the players on those teams are easier to recognize and get more attention. Cable sports shows do not spend time talking about teams that are at the bottom of the division no matter how well individual players are performing. If the Rays were in first place, McGee is probably an All-Star and another reliever that made team
McGee is a very good pitcher, having a great season. but he is not an All-Star and that is okay.