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Why is Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa underrated? He and his teammates make the case for him in the All Star Game

Photo: Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers

Why is Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa underrated? He and his teammates make the case for him in the All Star Game

Isiah Kiner-Falefa isn’t shy about promoting himself, and he shouldn’t be. Isiah’s 2021 is becoming one of the better seasons among American League shortstops and even all of baseball if you’re going by sabermetrics. However, Isiah doesn’t even make the top-10 among American League shortstops when it comes to All-Star voting. Why is that, and why do people underestimate Isiah Kiner-Falefa?

“I don’t know. That’s a tough question,” Isiah told me. “Baseball purists would not think so, but if you’re going off the cool factor, I don’t wear bling, I don’t wear big chains, I don’t customize my shoes. I don’t do any of that stuff. All I care about is winning and playing the game hard.”

Is it because he’s not flashy? According to his teammates, it has more to do with exposure and publicity. “He doesn’t get much air time,” Joey Gallo told me. “If he were on the Yankees, he’d probably be first or second in the voting. It’s different markets too as well. He’s one of those guys that people don’t realize how good he is because he doesn’t have this big aura, or he’s not this big huge guy hitting home runs.” Either way you slice, the fact Kiner-Falefa doesn’t crack the top 10 American League shortstops in All-Star voting is disheartening and deprives outer-market fans from witnessing a quality player.

“You got people like Tatis [Jr.] who are constantly getting publicized. Izzy is not that type of player that gets publicized constantly, but he puts in the work, and the stats show,” Dane Dunning told me. Last week, I conducted an intriguing experiment, asking a few baseball fans (but not Rangers fans) how they view and place Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The consensus among the group was that Isiah is a top defensive shortstop, and even one considers him an All-Star. “He’s such a great player; he’s a guy that shows up every single day and plays hard,” Nick Solak said. “I don’t know what it is to make him underrated; he’s a great player that deserves more attention and recognition for what he does on the field day in and day out.”

What makes Isiah good on the field? “Izzy is the type of guy that uses the whole field. He’s exceptional on the bases,” Dunning told me. I even asked Dane what his plan would be if he had to face Isiah. “I would try to find a way to get him to ground out if it’s possible. He likes to shoot the ball to the four-hole and at the same time shoot it to the six-hole. You have to work both sides of the plate, constantly mix.”

Should MLB allow fans to vote for the All-Star game?

“I love fans, [but] they shouldn’t be dictating guys’ careers and awards like that,” Joey Gallo told me. “These guys work their asses off every day, their whole lives to make an All-Star game. It shouldn’t be what fan base you play for and who gets the most votes. I think it should be who deserves to be there and who earned the right to be there. It doesn’t matter what team you play for.” For Isiah, it’s not more so fans than it is who’s on the ballot. “There should be a requirement on who gets put on the ballot,” Kiner-Falefa said. “If you don’t qualify, then you shouldn’t be on the ballot. There’s no way someone that plays seven games all year should be in front of me, that’s absurd, that’s embarrassing for the game, and it’s not a good look.”

“I think they should,” Dane Dunning told me after asking if fans should vote. “I think starting votes should be more fan-based. I can see that.” For Nick Solak, it brings him back to the day when he would vote all Chicago White Sox. “Growing up a White Sox fan, I just stack a ballot with White Sox players, whether they deserved it or not.” However, for Nick, a combination of fans, players, and coaches would be the most efficient, although there isn’t the best way to handle it. If players had a vote, Nick feels confident Isiah would make the All-Star Game. “I think a lot of players recognize what he does on the field. I think other teams recognize it too.” After fans choose the pool of players for Round 1, they can vote for the starters in the second round.

Joey Gallo and Home Run Derby

2021’s All-Star Game is in Denver, Colorado. It lights a hitters’ eyes up, so when the announcement came, the first thing that came to mind, Joey Gallo and the Home Run Derby. I asked Joey if he thought about entering if someone reached out to him, “Possibly, I hope to see Adolis in it. I think Adolis will be a good fit. I’m kind of known as a home run hitter. I don’t want to be profiled as that. I almost don’t want to do it just in that aspect, I don’t want people to think I’m a big lumbering lefty that hits home runs, and that’s all I can do on the baseball field. I think that’s still a perception.” Joey also mentioned he talked to guys about the Home Run Derby, and they are fatigued. “It’s definitely enticing with it being at Coors in Denver. We had BP there, and it was fun hitting BP.”

For his teammates, Isiah and Nick want to witness Joey in the derby and Adolis García. “Between Adolis his first half and Joey, the balls he can hit, I think both of those guys would be fun to watch in the home run derby. I’d like to see them in it,” Solak said to me. For Joey, it’s also about wanting to see his teammates in the Mid-Summer classic. “I really hope [Adolis] makes it. He wasn’t even with us, and for him to make an All-Star game, that’s crazy. That’s a lot of dedication,” Joey told me. “With Isiah, came up with the guy. It would be special to see that dream of his come true. He talks about it. He wants that. He’s tweeting about it; he wants to be in the All-Star Game, it’s clear,” and we all want Isiah in the All-Star game, too, Joey.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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