Heliot Ramos, Logan Webb selected as the Giants representatives for the 2024 All-Star Game

Heliot Ramos is an All-Star. The Curse of Chili is over.

Ramos, an outfielder drafted and developed by the San Francisco Giants, was named an All-Star reserve on Sunday. He’s the first homegrown outfielder to represent the Giants since Chili Davis (drafted in 1977) made an All-Star team in 1984. Ramos was a roster afterthought when the season began, and now he’s an All-Star. The Giants have a surprising number of feel-good stories on the team this season, but Ramos is the feel-best story.

Logan Webb is an All-Star for the first time. There wasn’t a similar organizational drought when it came to starting pitchers, so there was no catchy “curse” for Logan Webb to break. But even though Webb has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last several seasons, this will be his first All-Star Game. It’s about time. Maybe we can call it “The Curse of It’s About Freaking Time.” (Webb will be the first homegrown starter other than Lincecum-Cain-Bumgarner to make an All-Star Game since John Burkett in 1993, if you’re a drought-fetishist.)

Ramos and Webb are the Giants’ All-Star representatives for now, and they make perfect sense. There’s been a lot that’s gone wrong for the 2024 Giants, from injuries to disappointing performances, but there’s also been a whole lot that’s gone right.

Start with Ramos. He’s been the next great homegrown Giants outfielder since he was selected in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft, and his early professional career was notable for how well he did against older competition. He debuted with a 1.049 OPS in the Arizona Rookie League, where he was almost three years younger than the average hitter there. In his age-19 season, he moved up to High-A San Jose, where he earned a promotion to Double-A and still held his own. A .742 OPS from a 19-year-old in Richmond is a big deal.

Then the pandemic hit, and the 2020 minor-league season was canceled. When the minors started up again in 2021, Ramos was still young for his level, but he wasn’t freakishly young, and his performances weren’t as impressive. He followed that up with a disappointing 2022 season in Triple-A Sacramento, and it was far too easy to forget about him. He was just 22 — the age of the typical college draftee — but he was overly familiar. When you wait for a prospect for five years, it’s too easy to focus on what he isn’t doing well. A strong 2023 season in Sacramento and a hot start to the 2024 season wasn’t enough. He’d have to prove himself in the majors.

When Ramos joined the Giants on May 8, that was the context. The question wasn’t “All-Star?” anymore, but “viable major-leaguer?” However, now that you’ve watched him thrive, working at-bats, hitting for power and using the whole field, it makes you wonder why the expectations changed at all. Ramos does just about everything well, and he has fun doing it. He’s still young enough to avoid the late bloomer tag. He’s a worthy All-Star representative for an organization that’s been searching for someone like him for about, oh, 40 to 50 years.

Webb’s first All-Star selection has been in the works for a while, but it’s worth remembering that he broke a mini-slump for the organization in his own way. When he debuted, he was notable for being the first impressive Giants’ pitching prospect to debut in a long time.

Here’s an honest question: Before Webb, who was the last Giants rookie to start a game and immediately impress you with his raw stuff?

The answer to the rhetorical question was Tim Lincecum, depending on how you felt about Madison Bumgarner’s diminished velocity in his debut. Either way, it had been a while. Except Webb didn’t force himself into the immediate and long-term plans right away. He was up and down, still thought of as a sixth starter, possible long-relief candidate or future swingman. His evolution into throwback ace happened so fast, it was hard to know when it happened. It came in the perfect season, and he’s the main reason why the Dodgers have won 11 out of 12 NL West titles instead of 12 straight.

Not only is Webb one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, a true ace, he’s also the most unique ace going. There’s an English nerd warming up their fingers right now, about to tell me that something can’t be the “most” unique because, by definition, something unique is one-of-one, a closed set. I’ll push back on that, though. You can have starting pitchers who are unique because they throw one freaky pitch (Matt Waldron), because they thrive with an uncanny mastery of the dark pitching arts (Seth Lugo) or because their mechanics remind you of Bart Simpson riding a chair in a garbage disposal like a bucking bronco (Chris Sale).

rodeo garbage disposal

Artist’s conception of Chris Sale’s mechanics.

All of those pitchers are unique. But Webb has the most unique attributes in the modern game. He throws seven innings regularly, and he’s shooting for nine innings more than anyone else. He’s hoping for weak contact more than he’s hoping for swings and misses. He can get both, but his style is a direct rebuke to the launch-angle revolution. He has pitches that move in every ordinal and cardinal direction. This, combined with his overall charisma and gregariousness, makes him a pitcher that nobody else has, but even more so.

It’s worked for quite a while now, and it’s about time that Webb gets to goof around with the other best players in baseball as they watch the Home Run Derby. It fits in this season, especially, because he’s been the stalwart of a supremely unreliable and decimated rotation. Without Webb, the Giants would be absolutely hosed. That’s a true statement in every season, but it’s even more applicable to the 2024 season.

There are other Giants players who deserved a spot, and maybe they’ll still get one as others decline to attend or drop out because of injury. Patrick Bailey is one of the best catchers in baseball, and he’ll hopefully get recognized as such one day. Both Ryan Walker and Tyler Rogers have been enjoying All-Star seasons, and they would have made an All-Star roster that was built like an actual major-league team, with utility players and bullpen specialists. LaMonte Wade Jr. has just a couple dozen fewer plate appearances than Ramos, so he wouldn’t have been an unthinkable choice.

Webb and Ramos, though, were the obvious picks, and it’s a pleasant surprise to see the general baseball world agree. The 2024 Giants wouldn’t have a shot without them, and they should make the 2025 and 2029 Giants feel better about their chances, too. If that’s not what an All-Star is supposed to do, I’m not sure what is.

(Photos of Logan Webb, left, and Heliot Ramos: Ed Szczepanski, John David Mercer / USA Today)

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