Rays fans can rejoice, as their favorite wunderkind superstar shortstop Wander Franco has been named to the All-Star roster in Seattle.
However, this exciting news is dampened with the fact that he really should have made it in the first place.
If it wasn't for a certain all-time talent in Anaheim, Wander Franco might just be leading the MVP race. In terms of Baseball Reference's version of WAR, Franco sits third in all of baseball. The two players ahead of him? Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr., perhaps the two best players in baseball.
Rays' Wander Franco is one of the best players in baseball
While Franco has met the expectations set for him offensively, it is his all-around game that has made him a slam dunk choice to be an All-Star this year. He is top 5 in stolen bases with 27, showing his capability to have a 20 home run/20 stolen base season. Defensively, Franco is ranked first in Statcast’s Outs Above Average (OAA) and is the American League’s best infielder per Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
There is no reason to question the other shortstops representing the American League in Seattle. Corey Seager and Bo Bichette are two of the best offensive talents in Major League Baseball, and have shown that with stellar seasons. However, MLB has shown that it was never a shortstop issue.
When MLB announced the All-Stars, they simply listed them as “infielders” and “outfielders.” If they don’t think that differentiating positions is worth their time, then why were the reserves selected still as one per position? There is no doubt Whit Merrifield has been a good player for the Blue Jays, but his OPS is also over 100 points lower than Franco’s, making it evident he did not deserve the nod, at least not over Franco. Adding to the bizarre handling of All-Star positions is the fact that Franco replaces one of Aaron Judge or Mike Trout, both of whom are outfielders.
Wander Franco is one of the game’s premier talents who plays for one of the most exciting teams in baseball. While Rays fans should be happy that he was selected to make the team, the statistics show he should have had his flights booked to Seattle long ago.