Upon the announcement of the National League All-Star team, two Reds players whose exclusion created a harsh backlash were those of pitcher Johnny Cueto and second baseman Brandon Phillips. Both are doing rather well these days. This forces me to ask if being snubbed has served as motivation for the duo.
There were verbal jousts between Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker over the matter, but Cueto and Phillips have dealt with their extra days off in a different manner. No words. Just play ball. They have let their on-field performances speak as to why they should have been on the NL squad. They have done precisely that.
More shock was generated at Cueto not being on the team. The majority of that came from more the national writers than Reds fans. Those that expressed surprise were totally dumbfounded that Cueto could be left off the NL team. It’s not like Cueto had bad numbers. In fact, he was tied for 3rd in the NL wins and led the NL in ERA as the All-Star break arrived. Here’s how it has all panned out since then. A little comparison.
|Before ASG||Since ASG|
When you look at who was selected (either by the players and TLR in “conjunction with MLB”), it was peculiar then, and it’s downright hilarious now. No NL pitcher has had a better second half of the season than one Johnny Cueto. He owns the best record, 3rd best ERA and 2nd best WHIP in comparison to those that made the team.
In fact, the juice for Cueto to be named the NL Cy Young Award is gaining even more steam. Just today, ESPN’s Buster Olney stated that he has Cueto atop his list. You can catch the video for this if you visit The Hub in the upper right-hand corner of the mainpage here on BRM.
The most impressive line about Cueto during this 2012 season is his performance at GABP. He’s 9-1 with a 2.26 ERA in 11 starts at home. Look over that again. Okay, sure he has five less starts at home than away (where he’s 8-5 with an ERA of 2.63), but that’s as impressive as it gets considering how everyone will forever blast the Reds home for being so hitter friendly. If anyone ever says anything along the lines of GABP being a hitter’s paradise, simply steer them to look at Cueto’s home numbers. Then watch their jaw hit the ground.
One last thing. Cueto and Kershaw are the only pitchers listed here with an ERA below 3.00 for both the first and second half of the season.
So what about BP? Here’s Phillips and his numbers compared to the two that were selected (prior to today’s game)…
|Before ASG||After ASG|
I still shake my head a the fact Dan Uggla was selected by the fans. I had an eerie feeling Phillips would not be selected. The deficit too catch Uggla in the fan balloting was pretty steep. Add all the Giants fans voting for Freddy Sanchez didn’t help either. I knew Altuve was going to be the Astros representative, so things looked grim. The only shot was, yep, the manager’s choice.
For BP, he hasn’t had the power stroke in the second half this season (he showed it today!), but he hasn’t had to use it. With the rate that Ryan Ludwick, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce have been launching pitches into the seats, his role hasn’t been one that would necessitate using power. Even with that “lack of power”, he’s equal or better in every category.
Another point here. BP already has more doubles in the second half (15) than he did in the first half (13). Getting on base has garnered a higher priority…and BP has been doing that. His OBP is up 41 points (.322 to .363) in comparing first half and second half numbers.
A defense for Altuve (and I felt he deserved to go) is he plays in Houston. They don’t score a near the rate they did for the first seven weeks of the season, but he is still doing well at the plate as his second half OBP is the same as BP’s.
Motivation can come from strange places, but being not being selected by the players and managers or the “others” making selections have created a pair of Reds players that have every right to show all of baseball that they are the best at their respective positions.