As Avengers:Endgame has become the first movie to challenge Avatar‘s perch atop the global box office sales mark, evaluation of the film about the Pandoran moon has regained relevance.1 There was the abject beauty of the scenes director James Cameron spliced between rain-forests with bio-luminescent animals and a species of blue sentient beings living in harmony within it. There was a creative inventiveness of the technology the humans arriving at the planet brought with them. There were carefully crafted back stories of the main characters to be developed within the upcoming arcs. The delicate care taken to develop the minor plot lines and graphics gave gravity to all components of the film.2 Until a rushed third act including an inadequate climatic fight scene and insufficient resolution did damage to the entirety of the movie.
Avatar would be an All-Star in the eyes of MLB though as the selection process for such players focuses solely on what amounts to the first act without regard to the second (second half of regular season) or third (postseason). Does anyone think Giovanny Urshela will continue to be a better baseball player than Manny Machado? The present hitting statistics MLB pushes on their All-Star ballot gives no other context.
With the 2019 All-Star game in Cleveland, many fans are hoping to see their favorite Tribe players. The weighted process of early season results will help some players gain entry, while providing others an obstacle that might not be able to be overcome. So, which players on the Indians does this process help or hurt?
Francisco Lindor, SS: Hurt.
Should missing the first 19 games of the season cause one of the few Faces of the Game to be excluded from the All-Star Game in his home ballpark? The American League is teeming with talented shortstops, but none– not even Carlos Correa– move the needle as Lindor can. His interview during the last mid-summer classic was public relation gold for a sport who need more known personalities. And, it is not as if his numbers are lacking.
Carlos Santana, 1B / Designated-hitter: Helped.
Long known as Second-Half Santana, the Tribe first baseman has yet to ever receive the honor of being named an all-star despite a ridiculous consistent batting line year-over-year. Despite the voting format hurting his chances in the past, the 2019 season will rectify the glaring absence on his resume as he has begun the year with a patient-power factor approach that has his slash line quite similar to Alex Bregman and other noted sluggers of MLB.
Mike Clevinger, SP: Hurt.
Clevinger was fantastic down the stretch of 2019 as he struck out 89 in 78 innings pitched with a 2.31 ERA. Somehow, he was even better in 2019 as he struck out 22 in 12 innings of work, while not allowing even a single run. Unfortunately, an untimely back injury has caused him to miss some time– virtually disqualifying him from the current selection process. But, if the 99 miles per hour his fastball was registered during his rehabilation start was any indication, he might continue his streak of dominance.
Roberto Perez, C: Helped.
Given the first opportunity of his career to be the team’s starting catcher, the 30 year old back-stop is making a dark horse run at a bid. There is an argument Perez is the finest defensive catcher in the AL, while giving the Tribe above average production at the plate. Gary Sanchez, James McCann, and Jason Castro will likely block him from making it onto the team, but Perez would not even have that sliver of a chance if a full calendar year were considered.
Brad Hand, RP: Unaffected.
Hand has been the most dominant reliever in baseball. The 2.28 ERA with 41 strikeouts in just 27.2 innings pitched in the second half of 2018 has continued into this season as he has a 0.91 ERA with 44 strikeoust in 29.2 innings. Even better, Hand is walking less batters. No matter the method, Hand is an all-star.
The All-Star selection process is flawed without an easily identifiable solution. Unsustainable hot starts and good health fortune shall once again factor into the fates of many of the players given the gift of a trip to Cleveland in mid-July. At least Carlos Santana receiving his first career All-Star bid in his return season to the Indians will not be unobtanium.3