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The All-Star case for Justin Turner, and how he got snubbed

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Initial rosters for the MLB All-Star Game were revealed on Sunday, and the Dodgers were expecting six players to be ticketed for Miami. They got good news on four players.

But for third baseman Justin Turner and pitcher Alex Wood, they are on the outside looking in, at least for now. Turner, for one, is one of five players in the Final Vote, for the 32nd NL roster spot. Voting for that runs through Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.

The Dodgers were understandably angry at the snubs.

There is a more than a kernel of truth to what Jansen said, even if it was probably ill-advised for Jansen to say it.

In the last 20 years, the Dodgers have had a position player voted to start the All-Star Game by fans just six times -- Jeff Kent (2005), Russell Martin (2007), Andre Ethier (2010), Matt Kemp (2011-12), and Yasiel Puig (2014).

Yes, the Dodgers’ television situation complicates things. The organization deserves to be dragged over the coals for the failure to make its own network available to its fans. But the TV situation doesn’t completely absolve fans from falling short when it comes to such votes.

But this isn’t about blame. At least not blaming the fans. If there is any ire to be distributed, MLB players might deserve it more.

How rosters are determined

Each roster has 32 players, with 20 players and 12 pitchers. That includes the Final Vote, so let’s look at how the other 31 were determined.

Fan vote (8 position players): These are starters — Buster Posey, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado, Zack Cozart, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, Marcell Ozuna

Player vote (8 position players): If the players’ top choice was also the fan’s choice, the second player choice gets the call here. This is how Corey Seager (second among NL shortstops by player vote, behind Cozart) and Cody Bellinger (fourth among NL outfielders, behind the three starters) made it, joined by Paul Goldschmidt, DJ LeMahieu, Jake Lamb, Michael Conforto, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Player vote (5 starting pitchers): Clayton Kershaw was the top choice, followed by Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, and Carlos Martinez

Player vote (3 relief pitchers): Kenley Jansen led the way here, followed in order by Greg Holland and Wade Davis

Commissioner’s office (3 position players, 4 pitchers): This is where it gets tricky, because of the rule that every team must be represented. Of the 24 players selected by the fans and players, only 10 NL teams were represented. No Padres, no Phillies, no Pirates, no Braves, and no Brewers.

That gave us pitchers Brad Hand, Pat Neshek and Corey Knebel, plus infielder Josh Harrison and outfielder Ender Inciarte.

Which left only two more choices to make, one of which had to be a pitcher. That was Stephen Strasburg, who certainly has more of a track record than Wood, but let’s look at 2017:

  • Wood: 9-0, 1.83 ERA, 2.11 FIP, 75 innings, 87 strikeouts, 2.6 rWAR, 2.8 fWAR
  • Strasburg: 9-2, 3.51 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 102 innings, 122 strikeouts, 2.4 rWAR, 2.7 fWAR

Hard to argue one way or another, but Strasburg was certainly a reasonable pick.

The other position player pick was Joey Votto, which is perfectly understandable.

Third base is too good

Where Turner really got hurt was the depth at the third base position in the National League. Wins Above Replacement isn’t the final arbiter or anything, but just look at the FanGraphs NL leaderboard, through Sunday. Every position:

Source: FanGraphs

Turner ranks second in fWAR this season, and he’s in the Final Vote, along with fellow third baseman Anthony Rendon (fourth in fWAR) and reigning MVP Kris Bryant (10th). The starter at the position — Nolan Arenado — ranks ninth in the NL in fWAR. That’s rough.

Lamb, the players’ selection at third, ranks 18th in fWAR. A perfectly fine season, but just not as good as some others at the same position. But, Lamb does rank second in the NL with 65 RBI.

The case for Turner

Yes, Turner missed three weeks with a hamstring injury. He doesn’t quite have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title — nine PA shy after Sunday. But here is what Turner has done. He...

  • is hitting .382/.472/.557
  • ranks 2nd in the NL in fWAR (3.7)
  • ranks 4th in rWAR (4.6)
  • leads the NL in batting average (giving Turner an 0-for-9 to account for his missing PA leaves him at .367, still ahead of Posey at .339).
  • leads the NL in on-base percentage (adjusted at .456, still ahead of Goldschmidt’s .437)

From 2010-2016, 26 players had at least a 1.000 OPS in at least 200 plate appearances before the break, and 25 of those players made the All-Star team (this year, Turner is the only one of the five not to make the All-Star team). The only snub was J.D. Martinez, who hit .346/.380/.654 with 13 home runs and 17 doubles in 55 games for the Tigers in 2014.

Martinez also didn’t have much of a track record before joining Detroit. Turner, meanwhile, is coming off a 27-homer season and three years of a 141 wRC+.

Also, Turner is hitting three eighty freaking two. Sure, batting average doesn’t hold as much prestige as it used to, but .382 is still .382.

In 2000, four different players hit at least .370 in 200 plate appearances before the break -- Nomar Garciaparra, Darin Erstad, Todd Helton, and Jose Vidro. Since then, there have only been four such players, before Turner — Derrek Lee in 2005, Joe Mauer in 2006 and 2009, and Chipper Jones in 2008.

All were All-Stars.

In fact, in the All-Star era (1933-present), 48 different players have hit .370+ in 200+ PA before the break. Only one wasn’t an All-Star. That was Tommy Holmes of the Braves in 1945.

There wasn’t an All-Star Game that year because of World War II.

Turner was asked about not making the All-Star team after the Dodgers’ game in San Diego on Sunday.

Still time

A reminder that in 2016, there were 68 total players on the initial All-Star rosters, but due to injuries or timing of pitchers and other circumstances, 12 more were added as replacements. So even if Turner doesn’t win the Final Vote, there is still a chance he and/or Wood could still head to Miami.