Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
David Wright usually is an All-Star, but who among his teammates will represent the home team in this year's game at Citi Field?
This is about merit; the Mets could easily have their entire team start the game if the fans band together and stuff the ballot box panda style. Let's look at the candidates worthy of inclusion on National League's 2013 All-Star Game roster.
Everyone loves slugging first basemen, and if Ike Davis plays like second-half Ike in the first half this year, he's a strong candidate. The incumbent, and probably the favorite, is Joey Votto, who is clearly a very deserving candidate. Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard are two other established names, and both play for teams more likely to be contending and therefore noticed than Davis. Then come other talented guys like Adam LaRoche and Paul Goldschmidt, who may not be household names but still had good seasons last year. Only LaRoche hit more home runs than Davis last year, in 63 more chances, and despite his horrible first two months, Davis ended up in the upper half of first baseman in walk rate and slugging. He's a strong candidate to join David Wright at the All-Star Game.
Johan Santana is the most highly-awarded Mets player on the roster, and a strong showing from him would remind everyone just how good he is. Santana was probably worthy of a spot last year as he had a 2.76 ERA through June and had thrown a no-hitter. If you believe, as I do, that a lot of his nagging injuries and poor performance after that was a result of Reed Johnson stepping on his foot and fatigue resulting from his long rehab to get back to the mound, there's a good case for Santana having a very good 2013. Santana is also a good candidate to be traded by the deadline, fitting the recent trend of Mets players winning accolades and departing. Santana has the star power emblematic of the All-Star Game, and is another good candidate to join David Wright.
No one selects All-Stars based on defense, which would otherwise eliminate Lucas Duda from any consideration. Of course, he'll be eliminated if he hits like he did last year, too. If he can hit like he did in 2011, replacing Carlos Beltran, he is certainly a dark horse candidate for All-Star consideration, although it's hard to imagine a likely situation in which Giancarlo Stanton doesn't deserve the starting spot. Lots of outfielders make it as reserves, though, and a good showing from Duda could certainly get him some consideration. He's also a good candidate for the Home Run Derby. With getting a good derby field in mind, MLB may lean towards someone like Duda, especially since it'd be nice to have a hometown representative. Duda has an outside shot at joining David Wright as a National League All-Star.
Bobby Parnell is the Mets' best reliever and even though very few relievers make the All-Star game, he's got some of the criteria you'd expect to impress the people selecting the team. He's got that fireball velocity: The ability to hit triple digits with his fastball and blow it by some of the best hitters in the game. If he's got it going early next season and is striking out batters closer to his 2011 rate while still maintaining 2012 results, he could get a nod to join the All-Stars, especially if MLB is looking for a second Met on the roster and none of the other players are worthy. Parnell is the long-shot candidate to join David Wright at the All-Star Game.
Those are my top four candidates to join David Wright based on merit, but of course a lot of this process is not based on merit. Bruce Bochy will be the manager, which means his personal appraisal of the candidates plays in. Major League Baseball's desire to put on what it feels is a good show can often play in in favor of one player or another. Injuries can keep the competition ahead of certain Mets out of the picture and limit the playing field for deserving players at a particular position. Every year there are players coming out of nowhere to surprise, too. Travis d'Arnaud could come up earlier than expected and wow the league as a rookie, which sometimes leads to a nod for the All-Star Game, especially at a position that's a little more lacking in offensive talent than others. A player on another team could have a breakout year and edge out even a deserving Mets player. Let's hope the Mets will surprise us all and have a half-dozen talented players in 2013, but even if they don't, they'll have more than one All Star.