During the touching video when Richard Fleming informed Colorado Rapids defender Drew Moor that he had been chosen to go to the All-Star Game, Moor stated (twice) "I don’t know if I really deserve this." So I thought I’d explore the notion.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Moor’s slot on the squad owes as much to sentimental reasons as it does to pure talent and success. He’s a veteran player with an unimpeachable body of work. He’s logged 25,166 MLS minutes, good enough for 27th all-time. He is the sole representative of the Rapids in an All-Star game being held in Denver, and probably no other Rapid, with the possibility of Clint Irwin, is clearly deserving. He blew out his ACL and worked his ass off to come back, and once he returned, he integrated pretty seamlessly without missing a beat.
But take a look at the numbers, and you see Drew Moor deserves to be there on his own merit, without sentimentality.
Here’s Moor’s 2015 stats, adjusted to a ‘per 90 minutes’ filter to account for his missing a few games. I put him up against four other MLS center backs, roundly considered among the best in the league. Note that Omar Gonzalez was on this list at first, but his numbers basically broke the scale: he dominated in everything. Just set him aside as a freak of nature.
Moor’s defence (British spelling, hah), according to Squawka, is a little lacking. That mostly owes to his rate of clearances and blocks: other CBs clear at nearly twice the rate he does, and his blocks are lower than other CBs. That’s somewhat explained by his role: he usually is responsible for protecting the castle as the last-line defender, whereas his partners; Sjoberg, Burling, and Watts; are the aggressors for headed balls and ground clearances. However, it still does indicate that Moor probably isn’t getting to all the balls another CB would.
That’s his one black mark though. Moor's attack score is second on this list, and deservingly so. Moor passes exceedingly well, he crosses well, and he heads the ball in the box well too. Moor has scored 22 MLS goals; at least one in every MLS season except his rookie year, more than everyone else on this list. His 5 ‘Chances Created’ puts him ahead of everyone on this list except Besler. On defense, his talent is for winning tackles, which in the Rapids offense that likes to score quickly in transition, is really important, and is better than Marshall, Borchers, and Hedges.
But there’s more to it. The full picture of Moor is better achieved by looking at his year in 2014, too, in comparison to these guys.
*Note that Borcher's moving from one team to another broke Squawka. Sorry, Squawka.
The ASG is as much about current performance as it is about your total body of work. And Drew Moor in 2014 was a top-flight defender. He was clearly better all around than starting USMNT defender Matt Besler (especially after the World Cup, when Besler looked… tired). He also is the best offensive CB here. And he even tackled and picked off errant passes better than 2014 Defender of the Year Chad Marshall. Matt Hedges was getting praises and speculation as a potential Jurgen Klinsmann call-up, and Drew Moor’s number were as good or better.
Finally, there’s a last intangible of leadership, locker room presence, and the ability to organize the back line. The Rapids without Drew Moor looked lost. The back line was a train wreck from the moment he went down last year. And our long, painful 14 game winless streak from August 2014 to April 2015 began when Moor went down, and ended when Moor returned against FC Dallas. Yes, that’s anecdotal, but it is certainly significant that in Moor’s absence, the team simply couldn’t win. He’s as important to the Rapids as any player can be. And that’s not nothing.
There are probably better central defenders in MLS to Drew Moor this year. If the question is whether Moor one of the top four center backs in MLS right now, the answer is: probably not. But the ASG isn’t about just the best players or the most deserving players: remember that Frank Lampard is in the game and hasn’t played a single MLS minute, and the fans failed to vote for the golden boot leader, Kei Kamara, or the consensus best attacking midfielder, Sebastian Giovinco. Moor may not be a superstar or a USMNT star. But does he belong there? Yeah, he belongs there.