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Lincecum, Halladay Get the Start, but Should They?

Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants and Toronto's Roy Halladay have been named the starting pitchers for tomorrow's All-Star Game in St. Louis. I'd say that's a pretty good matchup.

Lincecum is the NL's reigning Cy Young Award winner and has been even better so far this year. At 10-2, Lincecum has a lower ERA and WHIP this year and has improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 4.38 compared to last year's 3.15 while holding steady at an average of 10.5 strikeouts per game, his 149 K's has him tied for the major-league lead with Detroit's Justin Verlander.

While this is Lincecum's second all-star selection, tomorrow night will be his first appearance in the All-Star Game as last year he had to be taken to the hospital with dehydration.

Halladay will be making his sixth all-star appearance but his first start in the Midsummer Classic. Halladay is 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA and has allowed just 17 walks in 123 innings this season. Amazingly, this is all pretty standard for Halladay who has been confounding American League hitters for years but this could be his final All-Star Game for the Blue Jays as trade rumors surround the 32-year-old ace.

Obviously Lincecum and Halladay are fine choices but what about the other guys who may have been snubbed?

Jason Marquis (Colorado Rockies) and the Boston duo of Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett lead their respective leagues in wins as all have tallied 11 through the first half of the season.

Arizona Diamondbacks ace Dan Haren may be having the best year out of any pitcher but doesn't have the results to show for it. Haren is just 9-5 for the struggling Diamondbacks but has posted a major league-best 2.01 ERA and microscopic .808 WHIP to go along with an 8.06 K/BB ratio over 130 innings.

Just trailing Haren for the league lead in ERA is Kansas City's Zack Greinke whose 2.12 ERA is high for him this season as he didn't allow an earned run until his fifth start of the year. Greinke has been one of baseball's best stories this season, having battled psychological issues to show the form that many had expected out of the 25-year-old right-hander.

Greinke has pitched a majors-best five complete games and is tied with four others (including Beckett and Lincecum) for the most shutouts this season with two while averaging 9.1 strikeouts per game and 0.3 home runs per nine innings.

Clearly managers Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel had some tough decisions to make, so do you agree with their choices?

And for fun, let's throw out a poll, if you had to pick one of this year's pitchers to win one game for you this year, whom would you choose?

By CJ Holley  |  July 13, 2009; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Blue Jays , Diamondbacks , Giants , Red Sox , Rockies , Royals  | Tags: All-Star Game, Tim Lincecum, Tim Wakefield, arizona diamondbacks, boston red sox, colorado rockies, jason marquis, josh beckett, kansas city royals, roy halladay, toronto blue jays, zack greinke  
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Marquis, Beckett and Wakefield can all be safely ignored. Wins as a statistic is pretty meaningless and, for Wakefield and Beckett in particular, is the only thing those pitchers have going for them.

Greinke and Halladay both haven't produced as much in the last month. Greinke was stellar to begin the year, but has slowed down lately. Halladay was injured and hasn't been as dominating the three starts since he's been back. Greinke deserves the start based on stats for the entire year. However, Halladay's been more consistent and I have no problems with him being the starter.

Lincecum and Haren are also pretty even. The stats probably indicate that Haren has been the better pitcher, although the 149 K's for Lincecum are certainly overpowering. However, the WHIP/ERA is at least as telling as strikeouts, and Haren has the advantage.

Overall, can't complain about the selections. Haren probably deserved it slightly more than Lincecum, and if Greinke hadn't slipped quite so much recently I'd say he clearly deserved it more than Halladay.

Posted by: esocci | July 13, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

As a note on the above, I meant to say Wins are the only thing Wakefield and Marquis had going for them. Beckett's been pretty good, but his only standout statistic is the comparatively unimportant Wins.

Posted by: esocci | July 13, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

While I believe day in, day out, Halladay is the best righty in baseball, if it is a one win or go home, I think it takes a certain mental toughness that makes the normal season statistics and long term SABR approach less applicable. Small sample size problem. I think Bill James has said that clutchness can't be proven, not that it does not exist.

There's only one pitcher on that list who has demonstrated big game ability when healthy. He also happens to be significantly hotter than the other AL options his last 10 starts.

#1 71.0 IP, 20 ER, 77 W+H, 62 K
#2 73.1 IP, 14 ER, 60 W+H, 64 K
#3 63.1 IP, 26 ER, 87 W+H, 64 K

You know the answer. You just will not admit it.

having said that - Halladay and Lincecum are the right selections to start the all star game. It's a show case of season and careers, and both deserve it for their full season. CJ's poll is a different question. CJ is asking, if it is all on the line, who do you want out there.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 14, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

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