Now that we’re over halfway through June, it’s time to start thinking about the All-Star Game and, more importantly, which San Francisco Giants are going to make the team. There are the shoo-ins: names like Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Matt Cain. There are the valued contributors who find themselves teetering on the fence — guys like Angel Pagan and Santiago Casilla. Then there are certain players who are drastically underperforming … but tune in to KNBR if you want to talk about any of those guys. I’m tired of hearing about ‘em.
Even though the Giants are both drastically different from the team that won a World Series in 2010 and much improved from the offensively anemic club of 2011, the strength of this team remains the starting pitching. In an ideal world, the Giants have three starters that deserve a spot on the All-Star roster in Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. Like I said, Cain’s bid is automatic, right? If an ERA of 2.18 and a perfect game doesn’t earn him an All-Star bid, I’ll just give up on this sportswriting stuff.
After Cain the situation gets a little sticky. With Tony La Russa – not Bruce Bochy – managing the NL squad this year and choosing the last nine players on the roster, it’s unreasonable to think that three of the Giants starters will make it, even if they’re all deserving. That means that Vogelsong and Bumgarner are probably competing with each other for that second spot (that is, if any other Giants pitcher gets one).
If you’re looking for some glaring differences between the two you’ll probably struggle. The biggest statistical advantages Bumgarner possesses fall under strikeouts and walks. Bumgarner’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is a full 2.3 points higher than Vogelsong’s, as the 22-year-old averages 1.7 fewer walks per nine innings. Bumgarner’s strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio is 1.0 higher than Vogelsong, and he has thrown 20 more Ks (in two more starts). If the All-Star selection was based off these numbers alone, Bumgarner would get the edge, but only by a nose.
So, who’s getting in?
That’s a little bit harder to judge. Since the manager of the All-Star team is in charge of selecting the pitching staff, it’s all in Tony La Russa’s hands. Typically managers judge pitchers based off of the more basic statistics: win-loss record, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. With Vogelsong boasting a winning percentage of .750 and the fifth-best ERA in the NL, it’s safe to say he’s got the edge over Bumgarner (.667, 15th) in those categories at this point.
Ultimately, both are pitching well enough to earn a spot on the All-Star roster, and getting left off doesn’t diminish their talent by any means. But in a National League full of talented starting pitchers, at least one of the two may have to miss the bus. Even though a closer look at the statistics gives Bumgarner the edge, Vogelsong’s prettier W/L and ERA numbers (along with the fact that he has already made an All-Star team) mean’s he’d probably be the one making the trip to Kansas City.