The numbers, and Joe Girardi, said Alex Rodriguez deserves to represent the American League in next Tuesday's All-Star Game. But the fans, his fellow players and AL manager Ned Yost evidently thought otherwise.
A-Rod, suspended all of last season, again will be an outsider for the Midsummer Classic, as his name was not among the list of reserves announced Monday night. Dellin Betances, making a second All-Star appearance, was the top AL reliever chosen by the players' ballot. Yost selected Mark Teixeira for his third All-Star trip.
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Rodriguez also failed to make the cut for the final ballot, five players who will compete for the last roster spot with one more round of online voting. Brett Gardner was included in that final five, however, with the Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts, the Tigers' Yoenis Cespedes, the Twins' Brian Dozier and the Royals' Mike Moustakas.
"We talked a lot about Alex Rodriguez,'' Yost said during Monday's selection show on ESPN. "But we felt it was important . . . that every other position has a starter and backup.''
Although it's true Rodriguez has no real position as a full-time designated hitter, he still could make a big impact from the batter's box. His .902 OPS ranks eighth in the AL, and the other seven at .900 or higher are going to Cincinnati. A-Rod also is the only one among the top 13 in that category who isn't an All-Star.
As Yost suggested, there are mitigating factors, which is how he explained the selection of Red Sox super-sub Brock Holt -- a manager's choice. Holt does not have a regular position but is their only All-Star (every team must be represented). Holt has a slash line of .295/.383/.424 with two homers and 21 RBIs. He has played seven positions in the first half, the only All-Star ever to do so.
"What impressed me about Brock Holt was his versatility,'' Yost said, "and I think super-utility guys should be celebrated.''
Yost said he consulted his coaches, the team's analytics department, the players' ballot and Boston's John Farrell in trying to complete his roster. Yost valued Farrell's input because he managed the AL last year.
Left mostly unsaid was the argument against A-Rod, who has done a remarkable job repairing his PED-tarnished image. He's hitting .284 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs, and his play is one of the main reasons the Yankees are in first place.
Rodriguez also has deftly sidestepped controversy -- which he had found impossible for most of his career -- and gone about his business in a relatively distraction-free environment. He worked with the Yankees to turn a potential $6-million squabble over home run No. 660 into a $3.5-million charitable donation. The Yankees also got him the ball from hit No. 3,000 with a second donation for $150,000.
Despite their open warfare during the Biogenesis days, and after all the dropped lawsuits, the Yankees seemed to be rooting for A-Rod to make the All-Star team. And not just Girardi.
"I think it's one of the greatest comeback years any player has ever had,'' Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner said Monday at the Hank's Yanks Golf Classic. "So if they [select him], it would be great. He deserves it.
"But it's an amazing comeback year -- the bad hips, all the other stuff, more than a year off and his age, as well. To do what he's done is pretty amazing.''
But still not enough to be selected for the All-Star team. Every year, there are players on the bubble, only to be edged out for one reason or another. Ultimately, in A-Rod's case, people didn't have to look all that hard for those reasons.
With Laura Albanese