Mark Melancon Only Pirates’ All-Star Selection, For Now
When All-Star rosters were revealed, Pirate fans may have been disappointed to only see one of their team’s players make the cut. However, he is worthy selection and there may yet be other Pirates to cheer for next week in San Diego.
On Tuesday evening, the rosters for next week’s All-Star Game in San Diego were announced for both leagues. In past years the Pirates have seen multiple players get selected to participate, with four players being selected for last year’s game in Cincinnati and at least two players being selected every year since 2011. Unfortunately for Pirates’ fans there may not be as much reason to tune in as in years past, and not just because the infield is loaded with members of the Chicago Cubs.
Pirate closer Mark Melancon was the only Pirate listed when the National League All-Star Game Roster was announced. This will be the third time that Mark Melancon was selected to participate in the All-Star Game, having previously being on the National League pitching staff in 2013 and 2015. Melancon did not appear in the game the first time he was selected, but made his first Midsummer Classic appearance in last year’s game.
Mark Melancon came into the game in the eighth inning with the National League trailing 5-2 and quickly struck out the first two batters he faced. However, he gave up a home run to Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins before getting the final out of the inning to mar what would have otherwise been a perfect All-Star debut.
Though the save is a terrible stat, as a closer it is the stat by which Melancon is judged by the wider baseball community. By that metric, Melancon is deserving of his All-Star status with his 24 saves currently tied for third in all of Major League Baseball. Additionally, he has converted 96 percent of his save opportunities, with his only blown save coming against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a crazy game on April 24 that the Pirates would eventually win in extra innings.
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In actual useful stats, Mark Melancon has a 1.35 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Digging deeper, we see that Melancon is actually walking batters at a higher rate (2.16 BB/9) than any season since he joined the Pirates (1.64 BB/9 in 2015). Additionally, his ground ball rate (46.8 percent) is below 50 percent for the first time since 2010 when it was 45.8 percent over 22 appearances with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
However, despite this, his walk rate is still an acceptably low rate and his lower ground ball rate hasn’t really burned him yet as he’s benefited from an abnormally low HR/FB rate of 3.2 percent. In the end, the results speak for themselves. In a year when the Pirates bullpen has been disappointing, Mark Melancon has proven to be a steady presence at the end of games and has deservedly been recognized for it.
Next: 2015 Pirate Draft Review
Though Mark Melancon is the only Pirate on the National League team for now, the door remains open for the Pirates to extend their streak of multiple selections to six this season. Left fielder Starling Marte has been included in the Final Vote that Major League Baseball uses to allow fans to select the final roster spot from among five players that hadn’t initially been selected. While these things are hard to predict and I have no idea if Marte has a shot to get in via this avenue, my initial thoughts are that he has some stiff competition in Ryan Braun, Brandon Belt, Trevor Story, and Jake Lamb.
However, if you want to see Marte make what would be his first All-Star Game and join teammate Mark Melancon I encourage you to go vote for him. There also remains the possibility that Marte makes the game as a replacement, as it is quite common for players to bow out due to injury or lack of desire to attend. I could also see Gregory Polanco get in this way as well as he is actually in my opinion more deserving than Marte given his leading or tying for the team lead in on-base percentage, home runs, slugging pecentage, OPS, and doubles. Either way, I would not be surprised to see one of the two of them added to the roster.
*Stats and info courtesy of fangraphs, baseball-reference, and espn.com