Could the Rays Get Another All-Star?

By David Hill

Playing in a smaller market has the unfortunate consequence of not registering on the radar of the casual fan. Unless the player is an established star, such as Evan Longoria, chances are that any award involving a popular vote would go against the smaller market player. That was certainly the case when the Rays only had one player selected to represent them in the All-Star Game on July 16th. However, that player selected was Ben Zobrist, instead of Longoria or Matt Moore.

Yet, it is still possible for either player to end up making the game. A look at the American League roster shows that there are only two actual third basemen, meaning that in case of an injury, Longoria may be selected as a replacement on the roster. However, Edwin Encarnacion has extensive experience playing at third over his career, and despite primarily being a first baseman for the Blue Jays this season, has made ten appearances at third, giving Jim Leyland a possible third option at the position.

The Rays best bet for a second member of the All-Star team may be Matt Moore. Due to the rule that a pitcher who starts on the Sunday before the All-Star Game is ineligible to appear, there may be as many as three spots that open up on the pitching staff. Justin Verlander, Bartolo Colon and Hisashi Iwakuma are all slated to start on July 14th, which means they would not be able to pitch in the game.

Moore would certainly be a suitable addition. After a rough stretch, Moore has seemingly straightened himself out on the mound, and now sports a 12-3 record to go along with a solid 3.42 ERA. His numbers this season are better than some of the pitchers that made the team, such as Justin Masterson and Justin Verlander, who is likely to be replaced anyway. Masterson, for the season, sports a 10-7 record with a 3.78 ERA, while Verlander is having a decidedly down season, with a 9-5 record and a 3.54 ERA. If both of those pitchers are considered worthy of the trek to Citi Field, then the case could certainly be made for Moore.

Unfortunately for Moore and Longoria, being a replacement for an injured player or, in Moore’s case, going in the stead of a pitcher who played on Sunday is the only option. Instead of putting those players, and other deserving candidates, on the fan vote for the final player selected, the American League ballot consists of five set up men. Somehow, Tanner Scheppers or David Robertson are considered more deserving then Longoria or Moore.

The Rays may still get another All-Star, but that may not be known until sometime on Sunday. Right now, as it stands, Matt Moore may have the best chance to give the Rays a second player in the Midsummer Classic.