Miami Marlins

How on earth is this Marlins player getting snubbed by All-Star voters?

Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto #11 celebrates with Cameron Maybin after hitting a home run during the bottom of the 3rd inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park in Miami on Friday, May 11, 2018.
Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto #11 celebrates with Cameron Maybin after hitting a home run during the bottom of the 3rd inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park in Miami on Friday, May 11, 2018. Miami Herald

Bryan Holaday, the backup catcher for the Marlins, couldn’t believe his eyes when the latest voting update for the National League All-Star team came out on Monday.

J.T. Realmuto’s name was nowhere to be found.

The bi-weekly update ranks the top five catchers by votes received, and Realmuto -- perhaps the best all-around catcher in the majors by most universally accepted statistical measures -- wasn’t among them.

“It’s pretty unbelievable, isn’t it?” Holaday asked. “I think it’s (expletive)!”

In all likelihood, Realmuto will represent the Marlins at the July 17 All-Star Game in Washington as one of the 23 reserves on the N.L. team. But barring some seismic shift in voting by fans, he won’t be introduced as a starter.

And that’s what roils Holaday and other Marlins. How can Realmuto, they argue, not rank among the league’s top five catchers in All-Star voting when all the numbers indicate he should be leading the way?

“It blows my mind he’s not in the top five in voting,” Holaday said Monday, several hours before Realmuto helped fuel a ninth-inning rally in the Marlins’ 5-4 comeback win over the Giants with a double. “That’s just ridiculous. He should be starting the All-Star Game.”

The hard evidence supports Holaday’s contention.

Realmuto leads all major league catchers in batting average (.300) and slugging percentage (.532). Only Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli, has a higher OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage): .895 to .892.

Using advanced metrics, Realmuto’s offensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.7 tops all big-league catchers. Defensively, Realmuto stacks up, too.

Realmuto has thrown out 44 percent of runners trying to steal (the best figure in the majors among catchers with at least 20 stolen base attempts against them), and his defensive WAR of 0.6 ranks fifth in the N.L.

And yet the Giants’ Buster Posey, Cubs’ Willson Contreras, Braves’ Kurt Suzuki, Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal have received the most All-Star votes.

Realmuto understands the situation and said he isn’t bitter.

“I definitely don’t take it personally,” Realmuto said. “More than anything, it’s a fan thing. The guys at the top of the list are on teams with the best fan bases. We’re a struggling team right now. My name is not a household name. I’ve been under the radar the last three years.”

But Realmuto acknowledges he is having his best season.

“I missed the first few weeks of the season (with an injury),” Realmuto said. “But I feel, personally, I’m having my best year offensively and defensively. I feel like I’ve evolved as a player and am getting better.”

Realmuto has been the Marlins’ best performer, arguably the league’s best catcher, and should earn his first selection to the All-Star team. Fellow players -- not fans -- select the reserves.

Holaday knows which catcher he’ll be picking.

“What he’s doing is unbelievable,” Holaday said. “He’s doing it in all aspects. He’s playing great defense and he’s got to be the top-hitting catcher.”

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