It happens every year. There are plenty of players who head into the All-Star break living life as the odd men out.
This year? You have names like Max Scherzer, Yuli Gurriel, Chris Bassitt, Freddy Peralta, and Tijuan Walker ... among others. And then there are those wearing Red Sox uniforms who were almost-but-not-quites.
Garrett Whitlock. Josh Taylor. Alex Verdugo. Hunter Renfroe. All had a case. All didn't quite make the cut when it came to making the American League All-Star team.
So, while they won't be able to present their excellence to a national audience via the All-Star festivities, it's worth taking a look at why each were even in the conversation.
It would have been a somewhat unconventional selection considering the rookie's role. He has pitched in the seventh inning more than any other frame (16 times), while appearing in a relatively modest 24 games.
But what Whitlock has done in some subtle and other not-so-subtle spots the season has been eye-opening.
Seventeen of his appearances have included getting more than just three outs, with the righty posting an 0.51 ERA in such situations. Also, in games Whitlock has pitched more than an inning the Red Sox are 14-3. That says a lot.
April 24. That's the last time the lefty has surrendered a run. Over that stretch he has pitched 25 times for a total of 20 innings, during which two of 14 inherited runners have scored.
The 25-game run has also seen hitters managing just a .157 batting average and .186 slugging percentage against him, with not a single home run entering the mix.
Another interesting nugget to throw into the mix when looking at Taylor's value: He has pitched nine times on no rest, giving up just four hits and not a single run.
We lump these two together because their offensive stats are remarkably similar heading into Monday night's game, with Renfroe carrying an OPS of .787 and Verdugo coming in at .774. Batting average? Renfroe is at .267 with Verdugo sitting at .277. Renfroe has nine homers, 44 RBI and 44 runs, while Verdugo has popped seven home runs to go along with 33 RBI and 53 runs.
Get the picture?
There are other feathers in each player's cap. Verdugo has offered above-average at-bats, swinging and missing just 15 percent of the time, while Renfroe's defense has been difference-making.
Neither one were going to wedge his way past either of the two Rangers outfielders (Joey Gallo, Adoldis Garcia) or Baltimore's Cedric Mullins and Houston's Michael Brantley.
But if there was an All-Star Honorable Mention, this duo would have found a home.