Did MLB Make Pete Alonso an All-Star for the Home Run Derby?

Pete Alonso has not been nearly as good as Christian Walker this season, yet he was chosen over him to make the NL All-Star team.

Pete Alonso Wins Home Run Derby
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 08: Pete Alonso of the New York Mets poses with the trophy after winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Progressive Field on July 08, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

On Sunday night, Major League Baseball announced the complete rosters for both the American and National Leagues for the All-Star Game. Each team gets at least one representative and when it comes to the New York Mets, that representative will be Pete Alonso.

Now before we get into Alonso’s merits to be an All-Star this year, I want to acknowledge something on the front-end of this discussion. I am Mets fan. So to set out to discredit a homegrown Mets star is not something I look forward to doing. But the problem here is that Alonso is emblematic of everything wrong with the All-Star Game and how Major League Baseball treats this event.

Prior to the announcement on Sunday about who would be an All-Star, a story was published by the New York Post about Alonso and his status for playing in the Home Run Derby.

“If I’m selected to the All-Star team, then I am definitely open to doing it,” Alonso said

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One day later, Major League Baseball announced Alonso on the list of National League reserve players. Meanwhile, Alonso officially announced that he would be joining the Home Run Derby for the fifth-straight event.

At this point, the derby would feel incomplete without Alonso, who won the event as a rookie in 2019, before defending his crown in 2021. Alonso has come up empty in the last two years and will now again be looking to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only three-time winner in MLB history.

Alonso belongs in the derby, but if the only way MLB can get him to the event is by making him an All-Star, they should have passed on him this year. Because by making Alonso an All-Star, three more-deserving players were snubbed from an All-Star appearance that is long overdue.

Did Christian Walker Get Snubbed?

Here we go. Major League Baseball has put me in the awkward position of having to make a case against Alonso being an All-Star, despite the fact that he is one of my favorite players. But the stats are the stats and the math just does not add up.

Barring injury replacements, there will be three first basemen who will represent the National League in this year’s All-Star game. Bryce Harper won out on the fan vote. Assuming he returns from the IL this week, he will start in the game.

Freddie Freeman is one of the reserves, and rightfully so, as he is putting together another predictably excellent season. Beyond that, the third All-Star first baseman is Alonso, meaning that a more-deserving player is on the outside looking in.

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Christian Walker did not hit the ground running in his big league career like Alonso. It took Walker years before he established himself as an everyday player, much less a star in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. Over the last three seasons though, Walker trails only Freddie Freeman among first basemen in Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR).

Part of that value for Walker comes from his Gold Glove defense at first base, where he is arguably the best in the game. But he has also become a steady run producer in the desert, where he has eclipsed 30 home runs and 90 RBIs in each of the last two seasons.

This year, Walker is having a career-year. He is on pace for 40 home runs and 116 runs driven in, and his .857 OPS and 138 wRC+ are both career-best marks. His 2.9 fWAR trails only Harper and Freeman among all MLB first baseman.

Not only does Walker pace Alonso by nearly two wins when it comes to fWAR, if you focus solely on the offensive stats, Walker has Alonso beat in literally every single category.

Christian Walker.268.341.5162264.8571382.9
Pete Alonso.243.325.4671848.7921261.2

Now this is not to say Alonso has no claim to being an All-Star. He is top-five among NL first basemen in home runs, runs scored, RBIs and wRC+. He just doesn’t have nearly as good of a case as Walker.

Sometimes when it comes to the decisions that are made for the All-Star Game, the rule that every team needs to have at least one representative comes into play, where an inferior player will make the team just because they are the best candidate for their team. With Alonso, that is not the case.

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Not the Best Mets’ Representative

For anyone that has been watching the Mets this year as they went from playing like the worst team in baseball in May, to playing like the best team in baseball in June, there have been a lot of players to credit for that turnaround (including Alonso).

Still, the best player for the Mets during this recent stretch has quite clearly been Francisco Lindor.

Lindor is leading the Mets in fWAR this year by a wide margin with a 3.3 mark. Trailing him is Brandon Nimmo with a 2.8 fWAR. Alonso is not even third on the Mets when it comes to Wins Above Replacement, as Mark Vientos (1.5), Francisco Alvarez (1.3) and J.D. Martinez (1.3) all rank ahead of Alonso.

So the sixth-best Met this season just made the All-Star team as their lone representative?

It is simplifying things to just look at fWAR, but yes, according to that all-encompassing stat, the Mets are not sending their best player to Arlington.

Now when it comes to that aforementioned rule of every team needing an All-Star, you can make the case that it got in the way of both Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo making the team.

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For Lindor, it is most noticeably CJ Abrams that stood in his way of making the team, as the young shortstop is the lone representative for the Washington Nationals. Abrams is having a career year for the Nationals, and to his credit, he is having a better offensive season than Lindor.

Francisco Lindor.244.310.441154316.7511163.3
CJ Abrams.280.350.506144614.8561382.2

Lindor is on pace for his second-straight 30-30 season and is leading Abrams in both departments by a slight margin. Meanwhile Abrams clears Lindor in every other metric when it comes to his slash line and wRC+.

The difference however is the defense, where Lindor ranks as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball with 8 OAA, and Abrams is among the absolute worst at -11 OAA. Because of the discrepancy on defense, Lindor has been more than a win better than Abrams.

Still, between the offense and the fact that Abrams is the Nationals best player by a wide margin, it does make sense that he got the spot. With Mookie Betts being named an All-Star reserve, a spot on the roster will open up soon, and there is every chance that Lindor will fill it.

This would mark Lindor’s first All-Star appearance as a Met, an honor that is long overdue. In each of last two seasons, Lindor has finished among the top two shortstops in the National League in fWAR.

Last year, Geraldo Perdomo made the All-Star team over Lindor, despite the fact that Lindor paced him at the break by nearly a win in fWAR, had 14 more home runs and 27 more RBIs, along with more stolen bases and an identical wRC+.

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By the end of the year, Lindor’s fWAR was over three wins better than Perdomo, and was the top mark in the National League among shortstops. Hopefully this year MLB will not snub Lindor again, and he will replace Betts on the roster soon.

Now bringing this back to Alonso, while a case can be made that the right call was made at shortstop (for now), that does not mean that Alonso had to be the Mets de facto All-Star. Instead that honor could have gone to Nimmo, which would have marked his first ever selection.

Among National League outfielders, Nimmo currently ranks amongst the top-three in both fWAR and in wRC+. Nimmo has impacted the baseball better than anyone on the Mets, as his .375 xwOBA is the top mark on the team and trails only Fernando Tatis Jr. among NL outfielders.

Never known for being a run-producer, Nimmo currently leads the Mets in runs batted in, as he has past the half-century mark with a week to play before the break. Nimmo’s career-high for RBIs was 68 last season, so he is on pace to smash that by a large margin in 2024.

Lindor and Nimmo have pretty clearly been the Mets best two players this year and were the one’s most deserving to make the All-Star team. The fact that Alonso grabbed a spot that could have gone to either of them is due to a few flaws in the process, which leads to snubbed players every year.

All stats in this article were taken prior to play on July 7th.

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Did Alonso Get Selected Because of the Derby?

When you look at the All-Star roster for the National League, what you will find are a lot of players that come from the two best teams in the league. The Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With seven Phillies and six Dodgers, 13 of the 32 players selected to the All-Star team come from those two squads. When you look at the names selected, it makes sense, but that does leave a number crunch for the rest of the roster to make sure every team is represented.

This can lead to some decisions that aren’t merit-based. In the case of Alonso, you can see how a line of thinking would lead them to make that decision.

Ketel Marte is starting at second base for the National League, so the Diamondbacks already have their All-Star. The Nationals needed an All-Star, so Abrams grabs the spot that could have gone to Lindor as the Mets’ most-deserving All-Star.

Then in the outfield, Nimmo was competing with players like Teoscar Hernandez (who leads all NL outfielders in home runs and RBIs), Bryan Reynolds and Heliot Ramos for the reserve spots. Nimmo has a statistical case to be made over any of those guys, particularly one based on fWAR, but excluding him is not nearly as egregious as other snubs you can point to (ie. Christian Walker).

Ultimatley, Major League Baseball probably had a decision to make between Alonso and Nimmo to represent the Mets, knowing full-well that Lindor could be added to the roster in place of Mookie Betts at a later date. Nimmo deserved it more than Alonso, but there is no question who the bigger star is between those two players.

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Alonso has been the face of the Mets ever since he debuted back in 2019, as arguably their most popular player. This will be his fourth All-Star apperance in five chances, with no All-Star Game taking place in 2020, and 2021 being the lone year where Alonso failed to make the team.

There was clearly an added benefit to including Alonso, as it gave them another big-name star who relishes the opportunity to compete in the Home Run Derby. Christian Walker certainly could have taken part in the event, but how many D-backs fans are tuning in to watch him, compared to the fanfare that Alonso will get?

If the National League put together the best possible roster for the All-Star team, while giving each team their representative, Walker would have made it over Alonso and Nimmo would have made it over Reynolds or one of the other reserve outfielders.

Unfortunately for guys like Walker and Nimmo, the star component of being an All-Star got in the way of them finding their place in the Midsummer Classic. Hopefully as spots open up due to injury, that wrong can be righted, but for now, they remain snubbed for yet another year.