As of Friday afternoon, the top pitchers VORP in the NL were Jake Peavy with 42.7, Brad Penny with 41.7, Chris Young with 35.7, John Maine with 34.7, Ian Snell with 33.9, Tom Gorzelanny with 33.2, Roy Oswalt with 30.8, Derek Lowe with 30.0, John Smoltz with 28.8, Jeff Francis with 28.5, and Ben Sheets with 27.7 with Hamels a bit behind with a 23.5. The pitchers chosen for the team were Francisco Cordero, Brien Fuentes, Cole Hamels, Trevor Hoffman, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Brady Penny, Takashi Saito, Ben Sheets, John Smoltz, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner, and Chris Young.
Aside from Peavy and Penny, the variance between the rest coupled with their respective reputations makes it a difficult thing to truly lock down in terms of who is more deserving. Chris Young was voted in by the fans fair and square. He has a ridiculous home ERA of 0.82 and a BAA of .168, but his road ERA of 3.33 is still impressive with his .227 BAA. If he did not get voted in by the fans, he certainly would have deserved a spot anyway and should have been included initially. Then you have Sheets and Smoltz who were picked and one has be alright with those guys based on their current performance this year and their careers. While Maine has All-Star numbers, his case is hard to argue against Sheets and Smoltz as not every guy gets in based on 1/2 a year performance. If two or three guys are close, the seasoned star gets in 100% of the time unless someone is the sole possible representative. Then you have Oswalt, who is replacing Smoltz, and you have Hamels. If you look at their home parks (both strangely have performed better at home) and factor in their dominance factor, it is not an open and shut case that Maine should have been in over them. Everyone has a legitimate case between the three, but no one could really argue about Maine getting left out.
The only argument would be in Brian Fuentes. How you can put a guy who lost his closer job and has an ERA north of 4.00 is beyond me. Matt Holliday was already going to make the team, so it was not just an obligatory vote to get a Rockie in there, but if you are strictly playing to win, it certainly behooves a manager to have as many closers as possible. But Brian Fuentes? I could possibly see the benefit if the AL was loaded with lefties, but that is far from the case. Then you look back at June 21st. You will see twenty saves and a 1.89 ERA for Fuentes. The pitchers and reserves were announced on July 1st and they were probably picked a few days earlier. Fuentes' ERA ballooned from 1.89 to 4.17 in five consecutive appearances. Throw in the fact that starters and relievers are different beasts. You can throw in six closers and not have to worry about their availability. Regardless, I have a hard time thinking LaRussa just pulled these names out on the 29th of June.
They had a good idea who they were taking and at the time they had formulated that opinion, it looked like six closers were having outstanding seasons and LaRussa had three lefties in the pen. Again, if you are trying to win, giving yourself six closers and three of whom could be potential LOOGY options, you might be putting your best foot forward. With six starters already, who gives the NL a better chance at winning, Maine or Fuentes? I do not think it could be argued that a seventh starter starter who might take ten more pitches to warm up over a sixth reliever who will not need as much time is more of a value add. If the Mets go to the World Series, would you rather have a Maine All-Star berth or homefield advantage? Again, the most deserving should go, but Fuentes precipitous decline is not typical and guys like LaRussa are not knee jerk. If he was, he certainly would not be where he is and Fuentes was not undeserving a short time ago.
Did Maine, Snell, and Gorzelanny get snubbed? Yes and it is not a perfect system. Did Beltran get a gift? Yes and that makes it hard to argue about Maine if you are a Mets fan. I would have loved to see Maine there, but I'm not in a tizzy that he is not as there it is not as cut and dry as it seems and Maine's exclusion is not egregious.