Dodgers 1B Freddie Freeman (left) and Braves 3B Austin Riley are among the current MLB All-Star snubs as of this writing. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
STATS & ANALYSIS

Does Every MLB Team Really Need an All-Star?

It’s the same story each year — since every team is guaranteed at least one MLB All-Star, deserving standouts get snubbed. But we don’t have to keep doing things this way.

Major League Baseball has this cute little rule by which every year, all 30 teams are guaranteed at least one representative in the MLB All-Star Game. This year’s edition goes down next week at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The goal is surely to have every fan in every big league market have an All-Star to call their own, such that when the players amass along each base line during introductions for the Midsummer Classic, children of all ages across the country can gleefully recreate the Leonardo DiCaprio/Rick Dalton meme from Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and point to their televisions when they see someone from their squad.

It’s a nice thought — but it ultimately does the game of baseball a disservice.

The point of the All-Star Game is to recognize and showcase the sport’s best players. Taking a player from each team makes that goal harder to accomplish, and needlessly so.

Do we really need to see Paul Blackburn and his 3.36 ERA as a starting pitcher represent the 29-58 Oakland Athletics over Chicago White Sox flamethrower Dylan Cease, who has a 2.45 ERA and is No. 3 in baseball with 133 strikeouts?

Do we need to see reliever Gregory Soto represent the Detroit Tigers (while teammate Miguel Cabrera is already included as a “legacy selection”) when there are more deserving AL closers like the Liam Hendriks of the White Sox or devastating setup men like the New York Yankees’ Michael King?

Do we need to see Arizona Diamondbacks lefty reliever Joe Mantiply? He’s having a really strong season, but the younger, more casual fans MLB most wants to attract are still getting to know the guy. Will fans from the greater Phoenix area be happy to see him on the bump in LA? Sure. But if the goal is to move the needle by building out the strongest possible All-Star teams, the execution just doesn’t feel as sharp as it could be.

Are Pittsburgh Pirates fans tuning in to see reliever David Bednar, or would fans across the country be better served by having a deserving starting pitcher like Zack Wheeler or Aaron Nola from the Keystone State rival Philadelphia Phillies?

It’s a shame we’re not on track to see Ty France of the Seattle Mariners, Freddie Freeman of the Dodgers, or Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets. To grow the sport of baseball, especially among the rising generation fans, the All-Star Game has to be designed to let its brightest stars shine. Bending over backwards so that each team gets an All-Star nod a nice concept and perhaps even a noble one, but it simply prevents baseball from accomplishing quite everything that it could with its summertime showcase.

(A showcase that really should be on July 4, anyway, but that’s another topic for another day)

Not every MLB team necessarily deserves an All-Star player every year. It’s time for the league to make the midsummer classic a meritocracy — one in which the best performers and the biggest stars get to show off their skills and their talents unfettered by any other considerations.

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