CJ Abrams Selected to All Star Game as Nationals Sole Representative

Every team is represented at the All Star Game, but CJ Abrams is far from a token selection. The young shortstop has been rewarded for his breakout campaign by Major League Baseball, though he was not the only National who should have been recognized.
New York Mets v Washington Nationals
New York Mets v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Ever since Juan Soto was traded in 2022 the Nationals seemed to lack the lively energy that is contagious for the fanbase. That was in part due to the team being one of the league's worst, but also due to lacking that star player and franchise face.

Fast forward to 2024 and that player is unquestionably CJ Abrams.

Abrams plays with energy and charisma and has the results that back that up. Through 82 games, the Nationals' shortstop is hitting .282 with an .860 OPS with 14 home runs and 40 extra base hits in total. He is also more disciplined, as he has already walked 29 times this season whereas he only walked 32 times in 151 games last season. What is crazy that the young star still has room to grow, particularly defensively and on the bases. But a breakout campaign is in full swing and the league has recognized it.

The Nationals social media crew did a great job at capturing the moment where Abrams found out he would be an All Star for the first time.

There was some doubt on if Abrams would get into the All Star Game due to the limited roster size and every team needing to be represented, but Abrams has definitely earned a spot among the league's best. Among National League Shortstops, Abrams ranks in the Top 3 in Average (3rd), On Base Percentage (2nd), SLG (1st), OPS (2nd), Home Runs (2nd), RBI (2nd), Runs (3rd), and Total Bases (1st). He also is second in bWAR among NL shortstops at 3.5.

While Abrams was deserving and recognized, there were other Nationals who were deserving and still not recognized, namely Jake Irvin and Kyle Finnegan.

Kyle Finnegan is second in the National League in saves at 23 and has a sparkling 2.17 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. It is certainly difficult for relievers to crack the All Star roster, but Finnegan has proven himself as one of the best relievers in the National Leauge and has the elite closer numbers to warrant a selection.

Jake Irvin's exclusion is particularly frustrating as he was left off the roster in favor of more recognizable names, despite being a top five or six pitcher in the National League in basically every major category.

Through 18 starts and 106 innings, Irvin has a 2.80 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and 94 strikeouts to only 24 walks. He also has a 3.1 bWAR already.

For context, Irvin has a much lower ERA and fewer walks than All Star Tyler Glasnow in just as many innings. He has a lower ERA and more innings and strikeouts than All Star Shota Imanaga, who was the Cubs lone representative. And Irvin has a better ERA and fewer walks than All Star Logan Webb, who does lead the Major League in innings pitched.

This is not to say any of those other three pitchers are not deserving of their All Star nods, but rather if they are included, then so should Jake Irvin. Through his 18 starts, Irvin ranks T-2nd in bWAR, 4th in ERA and ERA+, 4th in WHIP, and 7th in Innings Pitched.

Irvin, in all likelihood, was one of the first few out when the rosters were finalized. After the starters were announced, the players voted on eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers). After this point, there were eight roster spots remaining with six teams still unrepresented, effectively leaving only two spots. Those spots went to Logan Webb and Paul Skenes, who has been electric and is an All Star in my mind, but not at the expense of Jake Irvin.

There is some hope that when some of these pitchers drop out due to injury or due to their start date being too close to the All Star Game that Irvin may still yet find himself as an All Star, but his start date would need to line up as well in order to be selected. It does leave a slight chance for Kyle Finnegan as well, who should have a strong case as a replacement selection as well.

For the first time in a couple of years, the Nationals actually have All Star snubs, which ironically is sort of a good feeling. Rather than getting a pity representative as required by the league, we actually have multiple players who objectively should be in the game but are not due to circumstances beyond their control. There are only so many moral victories in sports, but that is at least a small step towards this team being competitive once again.