Zack Wheeler disrespected again? Must be a day that ends in ‘y.’
The Philadelphia Phillies ace was one of the best pitchers in baseball this year, but you certainly wouldn’t know it looking at how he’s been treated on the awards circuit.
Here’s a recap of the previous snubs:
Zack Wheeler got snubbed at the 2021 All-Star Game
Wheeler earned his first All-Star appearance but didn’t get the start. Instead, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opts to start Max Scherzer. Roberts claimed it was a sign of respect for Nationals manager, Dave Martinez, who would have started the 2020 All-Star Game, had there been one. But really, it seemed like a way to court Scherzer, who would be a Dodger by the trade deadline at the end of that month. Wheeler wasn’t put into the game until there were two outs in the ninth inning when the game was already lost.
At the time of the All-Star Game, Wheeler had a 2.26 ERA over 18 starts. He’d already thrown 119 2/3 innings and struck out 145 batters. He was outranking Scherzer in innings pitched, ERA, ERA+, WHIP, and strikeouts. He’d faced more batters and allowed fewer home runs, yet Scherzer started the game.
Wheeler’s rotation-mate Zach Eflin and the Phillies social team even not-so-subtly called out how rudely Wheeler was handled.
Wheeler lost the Cy Young to Corbin Burnes despite outdoing him in numerous statistical categories
Despite rival MLB pitchers publicly campaigning for him to win the award, Wheeler came in second to Burnes for the NL Cy Young. Once again, people wondered why, when Wheeler led in more categories than Burnes and ultimately put together a more gritty, complete season.
Burnes’ win seemed to be primarily based on ERA, despite the existence of a separate distinction for MLB ERA leader. And many fans and media members disagreed with the win, especially considering the Brewers star only pitched 167 innings in 2021. Thanks to Milwaukee’s excellent bullpen, Burnes’ manager could pull him at the first sign of trouble; the Phillies did not have that luxury, and Wheeler’s stat line suffered as a result.
Wheeler should’ve been All-MLB First Team, not Second Team
The latest snub came in the form of the All-MLB teams for 2021. The five starting pitchers who made First Team were Walker Buehler, Corbin Burnes, Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, and Scherzer. Wheeler made Second Team with Max Fried, Kevin Gausman, Shohei Ohtani, and Julio Urías.
Wheeler finished the season with a 2.78 ERA over 32 starts. He led MLB in innings pitched, batters faced, complete games, and shutouts. He led the NL in strikeouts and finished one strikeout behind Ray for the MLB lead.
So why is it that Wheeler is Second Team when he had better ERA and WHIP than Cole and Ray? Wheeler struck out more batters than every NL pitcher who made First Team over him, and threw more innings than all five pitchers. That Cole is on First Team over him is insulting to anyone who paid attention to this season.
At this point, this is all legitimately insulting. If Wheeler performed at this level on a big-market team like the Yankees (as Cole did), he’d almost certainly get more respect. But the team name on his uniform shouldn’t matter regardless; these are individual honors, and ones he earned.
Wheeler is owed countless apologies for the ways his performance was underrated and ignored this season.