The Cubs have an international brand, an iconic stadium, almost 2 million followers on Twitter, some of the most recognizable personalities in the entire sport and the buzz from their 108-year odyssey. Yet not one player from last year’s World Series team will represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game.
That’s the fallout from an underwhelming 42-43 first half, and the results from the final-vote gimmick announced after Thursday’s messy 11-2 loss to the first-place Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner notched 20.8 million votes to beat out reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant and get the trip to South Florida.
Unless Bryant or a teammate becomes a late injury replacement, only Joe Maddon’s coaching staff and closer Wade Davis – an American League All-Star for the Kansas City Royals the last two years – will represent the Cubs next week at Marlins Park.
“I thought it was appropriately done,” said Maddon, who didn’t have a hand in shaping the roster with Major League Baseball. “I can’t defend my guys based on other guys that have made the team to this point. If you just look at the numbers purely, plus our injury factor, there’s no way for me to make a strong argument.”
Beyond being one of the faces of the game – and a two-time All-Star selection in his first two seasons – Bryant produced 16 homers and an .893 OPS while showcasing his defensive versatility and running the bases better than anyone on the team.
But Bryant’s batting average (.261) and RBI total (34) didn’t stand out in a crowded field that included third basemen from high-flying NL West teams: Colorado Rockies starter Nolan Arenado (15 homers, 63 RBI, .888 OPS); Arizona Diamondbacks reserve Jake Lamb (18 homers, 65 RBI, .916 OPS); and Turner (.384 batting average plus All-Star closer Kenley Jansen calling out the LA market: “It’s the Dodger fans’ fault.”)
“As much as you want to promote your own guys,” Maddon said, “and I would and I do, when it came down to it, you just look at the numbers head to head. It was hard for me to make any other kind of an argument. I think our players respect that. I would respect that in return if the situation were reversed somehow and somebody else was the manager.”