Rays’ top All-Star choice is obvious, unfortunately

Although starter Tyler Glasnow should be the clear choice for playing for the AL All-Star team, it isn't going to happen.



June 30, 2021 - 9:57 AM

Starter Tyler Glasnow sustained an elbow injury two weeks ago that will sideline him at least into September. (Mengshin Lin/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

TAMPA, Fla. — The Ray most deserving of being selected for the American League All-Star team has no chance of playing.

Starter Tyler Glasnow was not only a lock to make the team but in at least the conversation if not actual consideration to start the game until sustaining the elbow injury two weeks ago that will sideline him at least into September.

But Glasnow could still have an impact on which, and how many, Rays players get to accompany the 20-something person contingent of manager Kevin Cash, coaches and support staff heading to Colorado for the July 13 game.

Despite having one of the league’s top records, no Rays even made it to the second round of fan voting to name the starters, which is not surprising, though they have had six players elected starters over their 23 seasons. That means the Rays rep(s) will be determined by the players/managers/coaches voting and/or selections from Major League Baseball officials.

The pitchers and reserves for the 32-man active roster are chosen through two avenues: 17 (nine position players, five starters, three relievers) through the “Players Ballot” and six appointed by league officials (rather than the All-Star managers), in large part to make sure all 15 league teams have at least one representative. Those results will be announced late Sunday afternoon.

The league office also will handle replacements for players who are voted in but can’t play due to injuries (such as Angels outfielder Mike Trout) or who withdraw for other reasons.

The players voting took place this past weekend, and it’s conceivable Glasnow’s colleagues still will reward him for his strong start, 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 88 innings. “It’s unfortunate he went down, but hopefully he had done enough before the injury that he’s going to be recognized,” Cash said.

If Glasnow is voted in, and especially if no other Rays are, it could make for an easy swap to replace him with Rich Hill.

Having the 41-year-old, the most senior pitcher (and second-oldest player) make his first All-Star team in his 17th season would be a pretty good story line. And Hill, who starts Tuesday in Washington, has some solid credentials, with a 6-2, 3.52 record and AL Pitcher of the month for May award.

Asked Sunday about worthy All-Star candidates, Cash ticked off another nine names, some obviously worthier than others.

He touted Manuel Margot, calling his play in the outfield and his baserunning “spectacular” and saying he’s been “as good of a player on both sides of the ball” as anyone. But Margot’s solid play (.245 average, 8 homers, 41 RBIs, .690 OPS) isn’t what tends to get recognized.

Infielder Joey Wendle, who is really good at a lot of things and plays three positions well, is similarly in that solid-but-not-flashy (.281-7-33-.811) category, with a team-high 2.6 WAR rating.

Better credentialed choices could be Austin Meadows, on the ballot at designated hitter, and catcher Mike Zunino.

Meadows, a 2019 players’ choice selection, ranks fifth in the league with 54 RBIs and 19 doubles (through Sunday) and 13th with 16 homers but is hitting .238 with an .813 OPS.

Zunino’s 16 homers are most of all catchers (in games playing the position), his 1.159 OPS against lefties among the best and his defense highly valued, but the overall .206 average may be a tough sell.