Chicago Cubs: How has Kyle Hendricks not been an All-Star yet?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Kyle Hendricks has pitched in 190 career games (189 starts), all for the Chicago Cubs, and sports a career 3.17 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 952 strikeouts, 243 walks and a 21 fWAR in 1,134 innings.

Since making his debut in 2014, he has averaged a 3.05 era per season (not counting 2021), a 1.1 WHIP and 3.53 FIP. From 2014-2020 he never posted an ERA or FIP over 4.00 and even won the ERA title in 2016 (2.13). Long story short, the guy has been very efficient and been one of the most important assets on the Cubs.

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One would think a guy who consistently puts up really good numbers would play in the Mid-Summer Classic at least once. He had finished top-15 in ERA among National League starters in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 (2017 he did not qualify with 139 2/3 innings). He has also finished top-nine in the Cy Young voting twice (2016, 2020). All this while topping out in the high-80s on the fastball and relying on locating changeups, curves and sinkers in just the right spot. This, honestly, could be a factor in him not getting as much recognition.

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Hendricks is not “flashy” like many of baseball’s top arms. Max Scherzer can light up a radar gun and strikeout double-digit hitters on a regular basis. Hendricks is a career 7.27 K/9 pitcher, which is not bad for the type of hurler he is, but not certainly the level of Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw or Jacob deGrom. The pitchers in the All Star game are not chosen by the fans, but there is still a reason to think that Hendricks’s style could hurt his chances.

In 2016, he was only in his second full-season and was still relatively unknown among the masses. Easier for the big names to get the benefit of the doubt when putting an All-Star squad together. Remember when Jake Arrieta got snubbed in his Cy Young year?

The biggest factor of it all could simply be the fact that Hendricks is historically a better pitcher in the second half. While his career ERA in the first half overall is 3.57, he sports a career 4.78 ERA, 1.4 WHIP and .783 OPS against in March/April. He also sports a career 4.16 ERA and 1.3 WHIP in June. His career second-half ERA is 79 points lower at 2.78 with a 1.09 WHIP and .640 OPS against.

That is not to say he never had worthy first-half performances, he sported a 2.55 ERA in 2016, but in 2017 and 2018 his ERA was above 3.90 going into the break. In 2019 he began the year with a 5.33 ERA in March/April. Unfortunately in 2020, there was no All Star game when he got off to a very good start.

If Hendricks pitched more like he did after the break in the first half, he honestly probably would have a few All-Star nods.

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It unfortunately could be another year for Hendricks where he does not make the All Star game. He got off to a horrific start and still sports a FIP over 5.00 and 1.3 WHIP, despite the ERA coming down recently. The home run ball has been an issue for him as he has already given up a league-leading 19. However, if he keeps pitching like he has been lately, he can still finish with another very good year. If it helps the Cubs, then that is what matters most.