By Jason Shetler
This year’s All-Star Game will take place July 11th at Marlins Park in Miami. With the game being a little less than a month away, the voting process will begin to really heat up soon. While the Pirates have been mediocre for the most part in 2017, Felipe Rivero, Ivan Nova and Josh Harrison have been outstanding. I will now make a case for each, as to why they deserve to be named to the NL All-Star team.
Felipe Rivero entered this year in his first full season with Pittsburgh, this after being acquired by the Pirates from the Washington Nationals in late July of last season. The flame-throwing lefty has now emerged into one of the best young relievers in baseball. Rivero currently has the second lowest ERA among NL relievers at 0.72, while he has the second best WHIP, also at 0.72, and a 1.1 WAR that is third best. In terms of all NL pitchers in general, Rivero has been one of the most clutch, posting a 2.4 WPA (Win Probability Added), which is tied for second.
Ivan Nova at this time a year ago was a replacement level pitcher for the New York Yankees. During the trade deadline, he was dealt to the Pirates, and had perhaps one of the best second half turnarounds of any starter in baseball. The Pirates were able to bring him back on a three-year deal worth $26 million this past offseason. Nova has picked up where he left off, as his 2.91 ERA is seventh best among NL starters, while having the eighth best ERA+ at 149. He has also been eating up the innings, having the third most innings pitched at 96. With the combination of solid numbers and durability, Nova’s WAR is 3.0, which is currently the fourth best mark.
Josh Harrison was able to put it altogether at the plate in 2014. Not only was it a breakout season for him, but he was named an All-Star that year as well. The offensive numbers for Harrison were subpar in 2015 and 2016, making Pirates fans wonder if his 2014 campaign was a fluke. During this past offseason, he was placed on the trade block, but there were no takers. Perhaps those trade talks fueled Harrison, because the offense has been terrific this season. He is posting an .824 OPS and a 120 wRC+, both second best among second basemen in the NL. Harrison right now is tied with Daniel Murphy of the Nationals for the highest WAR by NL second basemen at 2.0.