Cubs Have Two Legitimate All-Star Candidates

Darwin BarneyThe voting has taken full swing for the 2013 Major League All-Star game. Many fans will vote for their favorite players regardless of how well or poorly those players have performed. As a Chicago Cubs fan, I want to see many Cubs in the All-Star game, including my favorites Darwin BarneyStarlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo. However, when I look at the players around the National League more objectively and consider that the Cubs have a 28-40 record on June 18, I conclude that the Cubs have only two legitimate All-Star candidates: Travis Wood and David DeJesus.

All statistics are as of the beginning of play on June 18.

Travis Wood, P

Starting pitcher Travis Wood has a 5-6 record, but that does not tell the story. Wood has an ERA of 2.74 in 14 starts, which leads the team.

This ERA is also 12th in the National League among ERA qualifiers. Having watched nearly every Cubs game, I can say that low run support, poor bullpen support, and shoddy defense have kept Wood’s numbers from getting even better. Uncharged errors turn into earned runs charged against him. For example, on June 17, Wood’s line read four earned runs in seven innings. Defensive miscues that did not go down as errors — plus a terrible safe call at home plate — helped lead to those four earned runs. These things have happened to Wood all season. He could have close to 10 wins and a much lower ERA.

Wood can also hit. At the plate, he is at .276 with 2 HR and 7 RBI, including a grand slam. The All-Star game is in a National League park (Citi Field) this year, so if his spot came up, he could get to swing. That’s very unlikely, but I would love to see it.

Wood is not the starter. That honor should go to Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 1.84, for the last place Dodgers), but Travis Wood should make the team and get an inning on the mound.

David DeJesus, CF

Statistically speaking, center fielder David DeJesus does not look like an All-Star. His big three numbers are .260, 6 HR, 21 RBI. He is the best leadoff hitter the Cubs have had in many years, and he is fabulous on defense. He makes my All-Star team for his leadership and his example. DeJesus plays hard every day, runs into walls to make a catch (currently disabled for just that reason), moves runners over, and drives in runs from the lead-off spot. Most fans do not hear of him very much, but Cub fans can agree that he is the team MVP so far in 2013.

I would vote for Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to start in center field, but DeJesus should get an invitation and at least an at bat and inning or two in the field.

Borderline candidate

Again, looking at numbers does not give the entire picture. One more player, closer Kevin Gregg, is a borderline case for the All-Star team. Gregg joined the Cubs in late April, and he has filled a huge void in the bullpen. He has saved all nine chances. That’s 13th in the league, but he does not get many chances. He has an ERA of 0.83 in 22 appearances. Hands-down, the All-Star closer should be Pittsburgh’s Jason Grilli with the Cardinals’ Edward Mujica right behind. I do not expect Gregg to make the team, but it would not surprise me if he does.

If only one: Travis Wood

With the Cubs in such bad shape, it is hard to imagine their having more than the one required All-Star. If only one Cub can go, then it should be Travis Wood. He has done all he can to get the Cubs some wins: pitch, hit, field, steal a base, and block home plate. Unfortunately, he has gotten little support from his teammates. The Cubs are not filled with All-Stars this year, but Wood, DeJesus, and possibly Gregg have earned the honor.

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