The Philadelphia Phillies currently have four all stars on the roster, the way I see it, and two of them put on a show last night in a victory over the Miami Marlins. Kyle Kendrick and Domonic Brown are having years worthy of all-star recognition and if they can keep producing at the level they have so far, they should absolutely be in the running for an all-star spot representing the National League. The four all-stars I see on the Phillies right now are Brown, Kendrick, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon.
Let's start with Brown, who has become must-see television in not just Philadelphia but around Major League Baseball. The two-time NL Player of the Week and last month's Player of the Month did it again last night with another home run launched in to the stands in Citizens Bank Park. He currently leads the National League with 17 home runs — three more than Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Atlanta's B.J. Upton — and his 42 RBIs is in the top five in the league and leads all NL outfielders. There are other outfielders with a better batting average of course, but Brown's .291 batting average is climbing the leader boards and right in the company of guys like Ryan Braun, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. That is pretty solid company. Brown also leads all NL outfielders with a .592 slugging percentage.
If Brown can continue to have as fun a June as he did in May, Brown should absolutely be a lock for an all-star roster spot, and the push to land him in the starting line-up should officially be on by Phillies fans online and in the park. I feel pretty confident that even if Brown is not voted in by the fans, his chances of making the team are probably pretty decent if his bat stays this hot. San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have some explaining to do if he did not include a player who could potentially be leading the league in home runs to his all-star roster.
The other question is whether or not it would be possible to see Brown in the Home Run Derby. We have seen Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard win the all-star event in the past, while Chase Utley was a bit of a letdown when he participated. The Home Run Derby has sort of become baseball's equivalent to the NBA's dunk contest, where some of the top names refrain from participating out of fear of messing up their swing. Whatever. I want to see Brown in this thing, despite not being on the official all-star ballot for the event. Exceptions have been made before, I believe. If Brown is among the home run leaders in baseball, I want to see him try to put on a show in Citi Field.
But we know enough about Brown by now. He has become one of the top stories in baseball over the past couple of weeks and I would love to see it continue. With any luck he will become the player this franchise builds its future around moving forward, allowing Ruben Amaro Jr. to take pride in knowing he may have been right to hold on to the homegrown product as long as he has. To me, Brown is certain to make the all-star team. So are Papelbon and Lee. Kendrick might be a bit of a reach, but is there a legitimate case for it?
After last night Kendrick is now 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA. In fairness, seven pitchers with at least six wins have a lower ERA than Kendrick. Considering Kendrick is pitching on what has been a losing team for nearly the entire season though (28-30 after last night's win), does that make Kendrick's numbers look any better? Maybe it does. He is one of seven pitchers to toss over 80 innings this season, with last night resulting in his second complete game of the year. Four pitchers in the National League have hurled multiple complete games this season. In addition to Kendrick, Adam Wainwright (3), Josh Zimmerman (3) and Clayton Kershaw (2) have accomplished multiple complete games at this point in the National League. Kendrick continues to work the ground ball outs to his advantage (106 is third in the NL) but Kendrick has also been getting outs on balls in the air (84, 8th in NL).
Kendrick is going to be a long shot for the all-star team, despite having a career season so far. You have to figure that Clayton Kershaw are virtual locks Adam Wainwright for the pitching staff. Lee should be a likely pick as well to represent the Phillies and it would be impossible to see the Mets ace Harvey not be selected to play in the game in his home stadium. That is four starters right there, and I haven't even gotten to guys like Arizona's Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.06 ERA) or Pittsburgh's Alan Locke (5-1, 2.25 ERA). Or Washington pitchers Zimmerman or Stephen Strasburg — he's struggling and may have an injury concern, but he was an all-star last season and is still worth keeping an eye on. And you will notice I have not gotten in to the bullpen aside from Papelbon or mentioned any San Francisco Giants. With Bochy managing the team, there will absolutely be a Giants pitcher or two to call on as well.
The pitching staff is going to be crowded ahead of Kendrick, but if he has another strong month then it could start to become a possibility worth discussing. What could eventually play in Kendrick's favor might be any pitchers becoming unavailable to pitch, or opting to not play in the game for a variety of reasons. If Bochy starts coming down to a position to need to fill out the pitching staff, Kendrick certainly could be a worthy candidate for a reserve spot.
Whatever the case is, this is a far cry from the days we just assumed Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were going to be sporting the Phillies "P" in the all-star game. What we are seeing could actually be the changing of the guard on this team, with Brown looking as though he will be the emerging face of the organization. In a way this is a sad thought, as we remember the good times offered by the core players of an offense that led the franchise through one of the most successful stints in club history.
On the other hand, it has me excited about the future as well.
Photo via USA Today Sports.