Major League Baseball has long held an All-Star Game in the middle of the summer. But aside from MVP and Cy Young Awards, the Gold Gloves and the Silver Sluggers, baseball has never really put together a team to honor the best players at each position regardless of whether a guy is in the National League or the American League.
That changed in 2019 when MLB took a page from the NFL’s All-Pro Team to put together the All-MLB Team. Since the squad was revealed in San Diego it’s fitting that a Padre did, in fact, make the cut.
Closer Kirby Yates was one of the 32 players to make the inaugural post-season collection of the All-Stars of All-Stars. It was a pretty easy choice to make. Yates led all big league relief pitchers in saves, ERA and WAR and he did it without anything resembling a safety net.
According to Baseball Reference, Yates had the highest Average Leverage Index in the game. That means he pitched the most pressure-packed innings of any other reliever. Amazingly Yates did not end up winning the Trevor Hoffman Award that goes to the best reliever in the National League (Milwaukee’s Josh Hader was given that).
Yates was on the mound to finish more than half the Padres 72 wins so it stands to reason they would have been exponentially worse had he not been in San Diego. The question now is how long he’ll stay here. Kirby has one more year of arbitration so he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. Other teams have inquired about trading for Yates, who has never had as much value as he has right now. If the Padres want to truly contend next year they need an elite option on the back end of the bullpen so any deal to pry Yates out of town would have to knock A.J. Preller’s socks off.