Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was one of two Colorado Rockies players (along with third baseman Nolan Arenado) named to the National League All-Star team on Tuesday. It represents Gonzalez's third All-Star Game selection and comes at the heels of one of the best half-seasons he's had as a major leaguer.
Gonzalez earned the nod over a few other strong outfield candidates such as Pittsburgh Pirates duo Gregory Polanco and final vote candidate Starling Marte, as well as Christian Yelich of the Miami Marlins.
ESPN's Keith Law believes at least two of those players should have been chosen over Gonzalez, who ranks ninth among NL outfielders in fWAR and, of course, has the advantage of Coors Field as his home ballpark.
Let's break down Law's comments:
He's here because people still don't quite know what to do with Coors Field numbers.
In a way, at least part of this is true. It's hard to ignore CarGo's ballpark splits; he's hitting .365/.405/.723 at home and just .272/.328/.408 on the road. It's a big difference. But part of Law's criticism about CarGo could also be an explanation for the opposite: should Rockies players be judged as a whole by how they hit on the road, or does the truth lie somewhere in between? Is Coors Field as a home park a hindrance in terms of how players adjust away from it as much as it is a boost for hitters while they're in Denver?
There's a lot we don't know, but here's one thing we do: CarGo -- and every other Rockies player -- is forced to play a third of his road games in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, after all.
We didn't need another Rockie on the roster, and Gonzalez hasn't been very good in recent years ... or even this year.
Law was complimentary about Arenado but is entirely too dismissive of the performance of Gonzalez, who over the last 365 days has hit .306/.355/.602 with 47 homers. Those don't look like the type of numbers that would be put up by a player who "hasn't been very good."
... do you need to know park effects to see that Gonzalez's .317/.366/.561 in Coors isn't going to be worth as much as, say, Christian Yelich's .317/.366/.561 in Miami?
Well, Yelich -- as good as he's been -- is slugging about 100 points less than CarGo, so why is that even a relevant hypothetical? Also, you probably do need park effects to reflect accurately so that, you know, you can see whether Gonzalez's production is worth as much as that of Yelich.
Or that Gonzalez, a once-plus defender who is now just average, hasn't been as valuable as Starling Marte's very similar .321/.366/.474 line, considering Marte is also a plus baserunner and plays better defense?
Gonzalez has been worth seven runs above average, according to Baseball Info Solutions' Defensive Runs Saved, and was worth five runs above average last year. But that doesn't fit the narrative, does it?
This was a lazy choice by the players, and I don't even have to go into how Gonzalez wasn't close to All-Star-caliber in 2015 or 2014. There are better players having better years right in front of our faces.
Chalking it up to a "lazy choice" made by the players is awfully dismissive of their ability to see just how much Gonzalez impacts a game. Even a group of people as saber-oriented as those who write and edit for this site know that not everything shows up in the numbers.
But that's just it: CarGo's numbers are good. Sure, he wasn't good in an injury-riddled 2014 season, but he's on a 5-WAR pace this season and hit 40 homers -- 36 of which came in a 104-game stretch in which he hit .288/.332/.632 -- last year. Not All-Star caliber? It's almost like elite-level power and good -- if maybe unspectacular -- defense doesn't exist and should have no place in the game.
Gonzalez might not be having a season like those being put up by Marte or sometimes-outfielders Kris Bryant and Wil Myers, but he's not far behind, either. To say that he doesn't belong because one version of WAR ranks him ninth among NL outfielders while the other ranks him fourth is just confusing, and frankly, is overanalysis of the highest order.
CarGo as a player has flaws. He doesn't hit left-handed pitching well (though he boasts an uncharacteristically high 111 sOPS+ against them this year), and he's not much of a threat on the basepaths anymore.
But he's an All-Star. Enjoy watching him in the midsummer classic, and enjoy watching him while he's still in purple pinstripes -- regardless of the ballpark he's playing in.