Yes, Zack Wheeler was snubbed from the All-MLB First Team

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By , Audacy Sports

The idea of an All-MLB Team is an excellent one.

For as cool of an honor as it is to get selected to the MLB All-Star Game, using a selection to the midsummer classic -- or lack thereof -- to determine how good of a full season a player had is a very flawed way of doing things. Bryce Harper, for example, wasn't selected to the 2021 All-Star Game, but after posting a 1.188 OPS in the second half of the season, he won the National League MVP.

Appropriately then, Harper was one of three outfielders selected to the All-MLB First Team Tuesday evening. However, his teammate Zack Wheeler was snubbed from the All-MLB First Team, having to settle for a Second Team selection instead.

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The five pitchers selected to the All-MLB First Team over Wheeler were Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler, Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes, Toronto Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray and New York Yankees All-Star righty Gerrit Cole.

While Burnes did throw 46 1/3 less innings than Wheeler in 2021, he edged him out for the NL Cy Young Award for a reason. In the 167 innings that Burnes logged in 2021, he was dominant, posting a 2.43 ERA, minuscule 1.63 FIP and league-leading 7.5 fWAR. We're not going to argue against Burnes' inclusion on the team, even if it comes at the expense of Wheeler.

However, you can certainly put in perspective how impressive the other four were in 2021, while wondering if they were better than Wheeler.

Ray -- who is now a free agent after winning the American League Cy Young Award -- almost certainly wouldn't have won the top pitching honor if he put together the same season in the NL. In fact, there's probably a better chance he wouldn't have even been a finalist in the NL than him defeating Burnes and Wheeler.

Wheeler threw 20 more innings than Ray in 2021, had an ERA that was six points lower, a FIP that was 110 points lower and a 7.3 fWAR (FanGraphs' version of WAR), as opposed to a 3.9 fWAR from Ray. In terms of bWAR -- Baseball Reference's version of WAR, which is based on total runs allowed as opposed to FIP for fWAR -- Wheeler still topped Ray, posting a 7.6 to the southpaw's 6.7. Wheeler also tossed three complete games in 2021, two of which were shutouts, as opposed to zero from Ray.

Granted, Ray did lead the AL in ERA, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA+ and WHIP. However, the only two of those marks that Ray topped Wheeler in were strikeouts and ERA+, both by very narrow margins.

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Wheeler did top Scherzer and Buehler in NL Cy Young Award voting, and while voters don't always get major awards correctly, we think they did in this case.

Scherzer's ERA was lower than Wheeler's by 32 points, but Wheeler's FIP was 38 points lower than Scherzer's. Wheeler tossed 34 more innings than the three-time Cy Young Award winner in 2021, also besting him in terms of complete games, complete-game shutouts, strikeouts, fWAR and bWAR.

Buehler made one more start than Wheeler, but still threw 5 2/3 less innings than him. Buehler's ERA was 31 points lower than Wheeler's, and he topped him in WHIP as well. But like with Scherzer, Wheeler threw more complete games and complete-game shutouts than Buehler, and topped him in terms of strikeouts, fWAR and bWAR.

As for Cole, the only categories where he tops Wheeler in are wins (16 for Cole, 14 for Wheeler) and strikeout to walk ratio. Wheeler, by a pretty significant amount, was better than Cole in terms of innings pitched, ERA, FIP, fWAR and bWAR.

Again, none of this is meant to discount the seasons that Ray, Scherzer, Buehler and Cole had. But Wheeler probably should have been the second person added to the five-man rotation on the All-MLB First Team, which "was chosen through a process in which 50% of the vote came from fans and 50% from a panel of experts." Instead, the 31-year-old was snubbed.

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