Monday, July 5, 2010

Rockies Olivo Snubbed by All Star Picks

The Colorado Rockies are used to it. They are the lone team that plays in the Mountain Time zone. Therefore, games on the east coast are wrapping up when they start, and games on the west coast are underway shortly after the Rockies start.

What that means is that none of baseball's so-called experts are watching the team play.

That may not be a big deal from the outside looking in, but it presents a problem when it comes to awards such as Cy Young, MVP and All-Star berths.

Enter Miguel Olivo. Olivo has been a very pleasant surprise for the Colorado Rockies in 2010. After the club signed Chris Iannetta to a three-year deal worth just over $8 million, they wanted to sign a guy who could provide veteran leadership in the backup role. That guy was Olivo.

While the Rockies planned on Olivo being a backup, the journeyman catcher had other ideas. Within three weeks he had laid his claim on the starting catching job. By the end of April, Iannetta was catching in Colorado Springs and Olivo was continuing his dominance.

As the days led up to the All-Star selections, it was clear that Olivo was not going to be picked by the fans. He was a little known name playing in a little watched market. However, those paying attention knew that there was not a better pick for the National League's starting catcher than Olivo.

Through 59 games in 2010, Olivo is hitting .307 with a .363 on-base percentage. He leads all Major League catchers with six triples, and heads into the second half of the season with a .901 OPS, a number that most catchers would give their right arm for. He has launched 11 home runs and has 39 RBIs.

However, when the All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday, Olivo was notably left off. The fans picked Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals. The 27-year old catcher has logged just a .229 batting average. He has just a .309 on-base percentage and has just three home runs and 31 RBIs.

As bad as Molina has been, the fans picked him, and that is how the game is played. The problem is who Chalie Manuel, the National League manager, picked for his reserve catcher.

Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves got Manuel's nod. He is having a good season, but nothing close to Olivo's numbers. McCann is hitting .265 with a .381 on-base percentage. His OPS is .830, a good number, but well short of what Olivo has produced. McCann has hit 10 home runs and driven in 34 runs.

Picking an All-Star team is the one way to ensure criticism. There is no way for a manager to make everyone happy. He inevitably will have to snub a few players. However, the problem goes deeper than who the fans picked and who Manuel picked.

On ESPN's Baseball Tonight, there was a segment about the players who got snubbed. Not once was Olivo's name even mentioned. On MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, there is a poll for fans to vote on who got snubbed. The poll does not even offer Olivo's name as an option.

How can a guy who has the best numbers for any catcher in the National League not only be left off the All-Star team, but not even be mentioned when the so-called experts are talking about snubs.

Snubs like this make it clear that the All-Star game is a complete joke and should not be used to determine who has home field advantage in the World Series.

The National League is clearly at a disadvantage when unwitting fans vote in a catcher who is having a horrible year and a seemingly clueless manager leaves off his best option at catcher.

If Major League Baseball wants the All-Star game to mean something, they must change the way players are selected. Until that happens, the results will continue to be meaningless, regardless of the World Series implications.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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