With the Washington Nationals losing to the Pirates 10 to 2 today, Nats fans would probably prefer spending their time today discussing the all star lineups that were announced this afternoon. That’s because Tyler Clippard was named to the squad and Michael Morse is one of the players up for the Final Man spot on the NL team.
The All Stars were announced about before this afternoon’s game started, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Clippard and Morse were the big buzz at Nats Park even before it became clear the Nats weren’t going to be winning today’s game. While Clippard‘s talents have definitely been received well this season in DC and there were rumors he might make the team, it’s still somewhat surprising that he was named to the squad. That’s not a diss on his work, but it’s simply a fact that the only pitchers that usually make the All Star team are starters and closers. Clippard himself even told reporters that the news “was pretty shocking.“ At the end of the day, however, his 1.96 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 46 innings of work during the first half of the season more than justify his first trip to the All Star game.
Michael Morse, on the other hand, was someone who a lot of folks thought had a good chance of representing the Nationals in Phoenix. As stands now, he’s one of the finalist for the 34th spot on the NL squad. Voting goes through 4pm on Thursday and Clippard made it clear that he’d love to see his teammate make the trip with him by saying that Morse has “been our best player all year long.” He even added that “since May, he’s probably been the best hitter in the big leagues.”
UPDATE: Coincidentally, the edition of Inside Pitch handed out to fans this weekend at Nationals Park featured Michael Morse on its cover and a lengthy article on his time with the team. While highlighting his appreciation for one hit wonders from the 1980’s and “his ‘Beast Mode’ post-game t-shirt,” the article focus on how Morse is able to play various positions and had some struggles during the early part of his career. As the article pointed out, however, he has seen a lot more playing time since coming to the Nationals in 2009 which has resulted in him batting about .300 and hitting over 30 home runs.
His hot streak this year has also helped the Nats show improvement over the last few years as he hit for a .403 average with five doubles, six homeruns, and had 15 RBI’s during the month of May. It’s numbers like the ones highlighted in the Inside Pitch article are clearly why he’s a finalist for the Final Man vote for the NL All Star team.