PHOENIX – Choosing Phillies ace Roy Halladay over Jair Jurrjens as the National League All-Star starter was not something that rankled Braves All-Stars, as all of them including Jurrjens acknowledged Halladay worthy of the honor bestowed upon him Monday by Giants manager Bruice Bochy.
But not selecting Tommy Hanson to the All-Star team? That’s something Bochy, the NL manager, would have a hard time explaining to the Braves.
“I know everybody’s saying Tommy should be here, too,” Jurrjens, said during All-Star media day Monday. “In my heart, and with a lot of people around the league, we know that Tommy deserves to be here. But stuff happens. Sometimes you scratch your head and just let it go.”
Other Braves weren’t going to let it go quite that easily.
For the final spot on his NL pitching staff, Bochy chose Braves closer Craig Kimbrel over Hanson, after Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain pitched in a Sunday night game and thus became ineligible to pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star game. Cain was one of Bochy’s original All-Star picks, and will always have the All-Star designation next to his name for 2010.
“It was very difficult,” Bochy said of leaving off Hanson (10-4, 2.44 ERA). “I know how well he’s pitched. I feel awful for this kid, with the season that he’s had. It was just really a tough choice between he and Kimbrel. I think a reliever will benefit us a little bit more….
“I obviously wanted to get some of my guys [Giants pitchers] there. But I do feel bad, because he certainly deserves to be here.”
Major league saves leader Kimbrel was deserving of All-Star recognition. What upset the Braves was that both Kimbrel and Hanson were left off the initial roster, and that Bochy chose between the two for the final spot. Hanson’s statistics were better than several members of the All-Star pitching staff, including Giants Tim Lincecum (7-7, 3.06 ERA) and Cain (8-5, 3.06).
Phillies All-Star Cole Hamels, another Sunday starter who was thereby ineligible to pitch Tuesday, was replaced on the All-Star roster by Pittsburgh’s Kevin Correia, because Hamels had been a players-ballot selection, and Correia was second on that ballot. Correia is 11-7 with a 4.01 ERA.
Among NL starters, Hanson ranks first in opponents’ average (.190), second in opponents’ on-base percentage (.264), third in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings (9.49), and fourth in opponents’ slugging percentage (.317).
He was arguably the most glaring All-Star pitching snub in either league.
“It’s bittersweet,” Kimbrel said, “because I feel like Tommy Hanson should be here, as well. He’s having an All-Star year, and it’s unfortunate that he’s not able to be here with us.”
Hanson was 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA and .161 opponents’ average in his last six starts before the break.
“He does belong here,” said Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann, who will bat fifth in the NL lineup Tuesday, after Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder. “[Hanson] is at the top in every major category. I mean, somebody gets snubbed every year. It just so happens it was one of my teammates, and someone who I’ve gotten to catch and see how good he’s been, so I’m going to be a little more vocal about it.
“He’s turned into one of those elite pitchers. He’s understanding what he can and can’t do on that mound, and he picks things up quick. I wish he was here. He deserves to be here.”
Phillies All-Star pitcher Cliff Lee agreed: “Tommy Hanson should be here right now, I think. He’s pitched as good as anyone in here.”