In a season in which almost all of the Cubs have been underperforming, one guy has been the exception.
Though Marlon Byrd is getting paid a modest $3 million in what is the first year of his three-year contract, he has been the most consistent and hardest working player on the team.
Byrd, whose highest qualifying season average is .303, was hitting .310 coming into Sunday. His 9 homeruns are on pace to come close to his career-best of 20 last season and his current mark of 26 doubles sets him to fly by his previous best in that category. Even more impressive is that Byrd has been doing this while bouncing around in the lineup: he’s made at least three starts in each of the top six spots in the lineup. Plus, Byrd has been a tremendous asset defensively, making catches like this look fairly routine.
Before the start of the season, Byrd was nowhere near the top of the list of the Cubs expected to make the all-star team. But with Derrek Lee hitting .227 and Aramis Ramirez just .177, Byrd’s hard work ethic helped him jump to the front. And Byrd wasn’t taken just because the Cubs were required to have a representative: the players voted him on the team before that rule even came into play.
And while Byrd will be making his first all-star appearance, it looks like Washington’s phenom Stephen Strasburg is out. For now.
Judging purely on performance this season, there’s no question that Strasburg should be left off of the team: 92 pitchers in the league have more wins than Strasburg, 60 have more strikeouts and 106 have pitched more innings. I mean, who was the last starting pitcher to make the all-star team with just 2 wins?
But there was some speculation as to whether Philadelphia and National League manager Charlie Manuel would take Strasburg because this game “counts”. Basing an argument on talent, ability to get guys out, and being able to help the team win the game, Strasburg should get consideration. It’s just one more by product of the stupid rule to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the team that wins.
But with Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo likely to miss the all-star game due to an injury, will Manuel be more willing to use a replacement roster spot on a guy like Strasburg?
About the Author
Written by Eddie Kim