The entire baseballblogosphere is up in arms over the American League players' selection of Jason Varitek to the All Star team, but really, it's just an unfortunate result of a poor voting system. Joe Mauer received 554 player votes while Varitek got just 159 votes; since Mauer was already elected in by the fans, the second place catcher automatically makes the team. Varitek is having an historically awful year at the plate but I can assure you that most players (even Varitek hisself, I bet) are smart enough to realize that A.J. Pierzynski is more deserving of a nod here.
Still, the selection of Billy Wagner to the National League squad is a far more egregious misstep. Do you think the man with SIX blown saves this season will get into the game? Sure, the Mets needed a representative to the game, but why not take the NL's fifth best ERA in Johan Santana? Why not take the second best third baseman in David Wright? Why not take the best all-around centerfielder in Carlos Beltran? Why not take the saddest mascot ever in Mr. Met?
In terms of Baseball Prospectus' stat WXRL (win expectancy added over replacement level) that rates relief pitchers, Wagner sits at 50th place in the National League. He's behind Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoeneweis on his own team, and at 0.715, he's more than three wins behind league leader Brad Lidge. Wagner has blown six games in 2008 but because of his team's good fortune, he's lost only one game.
Wagner's strikeout-to-walk ratio is very good at 41:8 but he's allowed four tater tots that have each led to a blown save. He usually comes into the game at the start of an inning but in other certain situations, he's inherited five runners and allowed three of them to score. Yuck.
So don't expect NL manager Clint Hurdle to motion for Wagner in the bottom of the ninth with a lead. I'm sure he'll want to preserve his Rockies' chance of having home field advantage in the 2008 World Series.