“Who Created All the Stars?” (part 3)

November 23, 2015

The first two sections of this three-part study of All-Star roster selections and mis-selections have focused mainly on anecdotal observations of some major blunders, of which there have been no shortage over the past 80 seasons. Some of those blunders have been caused by bone-headed or hasty choices, given the scanty information available at the time; some have been due to various biases of fans, managers, or players; some have been due to how the roster-selection process is mandated (e.g., one rep from every team); some have been due to an undue emphasis on a very small sample of uncharacteristically good baseball; and several other causes. There is plenty of blame to go around, if you’re of a finger-pointing nature. (Personally, I regret having only ten fingers to point at other people with.)  But what can done to make the selection process less subject to these causes?

I’d like to propose tracking the best players in MLB on an on-going basis, something like what Bill has done with keeping a running tab on the "#1 Starting Pitcher in the Game," only ranking all the positions (and all the runners-up), including closer, set-up man, pinch-hitter, utility player, and so on.  Of course, I’m not (MarisFan—pay attention here!) proposing substituting numbers for our judgment in picking All-Star teams, but I do think that such a running tab would at least inform voters, who might otherwise be ignorant of things not apparent to the naked eye. If we could distribute a constantly changing list of the best outfielders in MLB going back a little bit beyond the beginning of the current season, for example, a voter would certainly still be free to vote for Joc Pederson (.300 batter, with a 1.096 OPS through May 1)  to start the All-Star game, but he would have to justify his choice, if only to himself, in the face of Pederson’s standing on our well-publicized chart as the 18th-best outfielder in MLB over the last 162 games (or whatever ranking he would have had over whatever number of games our running tab would keep track of. For the record, from May 2nd on, in Pederson’s 2015 season, in which he started the All-Star Game, striking out twice in two plate appearances, he batted .198 with a Ruthian .714 OPS. Good one, All-Star voters!)

This is perhaps the most obviously unjust part of the current system: the heavy weight given to a hot few weeks in April or May that are wildly out of whack with a player’s previous and future performance.  It’s just frankly nutty that some guy who barely belongs in MLB (and who is sometimes out of MLB, or out of a starting job, very shortly) can get chosen as the best player in the league at his position (assuming that that is the meaning of the All-Star selection process, as I am: to identify the best in each league at each position). It’s not only contra-logical, but it diminishes the honor of being selected for the All-Star team. If we were to develop a running-tab system, this injustice would occur much less frequently: Vic Davalillo, for example, would have to content himself with winning, perhaps, "The AL Player of the Month" or several "Player of the Week" awards for his excellent May of 1965, but several other AL centerfielders that year had better careers, and better 1965s, than Davalillo did.  (Paul Blair was just getting started, but Jimmie Hall, who was Davalillo’s backup, would have been the starter, unless Tom Tresh, who was left off the 1965 All-Star team entirely, had been chosen. Both Hall and Tresh had much better careers and previous seasons than Davalillo, who was in fact the AL’s starting centerfielder that July.) Not to pick on Vic, he’s just a convenient example of the phenomenon I’m trying to describe here, but he was a remarkably consistent .500 player for 16 seasons, mostly as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He had a lifetime .502 winning percentage, and exactly 16 WAR accumulated in his 16 years, never very far above or below .500. Except for those few weeks early in the 1965 season, he was never anyone’s idea of a starting centerfielder in the All-Star game.

Bill got me started on this whole approach to the All-Star game way back when, in some early Abstract where he wrote about Toby Harrah, I think, getting more All-Star support than George Brett on the basis of outhitting Brett early in some season. "Is it anyone’s opinion that Harrah is a better third-baseman than George Brett?" he asked, or words to that effect, and I think that’s the crucial question to apply, who’s a better player, not who’s hot just now. In retrospect, we can visit any year and find some mediocre player starting ahead of some established star, and while this is no terrible travesty of justice, calling for no Kevin-Costner-as-Jim-Garrison outraged cries to heaven, if we can force ourselves to make selections that we will be prouder of making in the future, why not do it?

OTOH, why not give the Vic Davalillos of this world a break? Guy plays for 16 years, why not choose him for one All-Star team in one of his better seasons, especially if the league is in a transitional period with no outstanding players at his position? (Mantle had just moved to left field, Agee and Blair weren’t quite ready.)  Is this a crime, or something? If so, who’s the victim?

This reasoning can be labelled the "It’s His Turn" logic, often applied in MVP voting, where the rationale for voting for a lesser player over a better player is that the better player has already won a previous MVP award, screwing over Stan Musial or Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays having his typical spectacular season in favor of some lesser star having the season of his life. Maybe we’ve improved in this regard, due to our heightened statistical awareness, I would argue—in that Barry Bonds has gotten 7 MVPs, while not quite being more than twice as valuable as Mantle or more than three times as valuable as Mays. Of course, the argument against this line of thought is that it’s not an "It’s His Turn Award." If someone happens to be a more deserving centerfielder than Vic Davalillo, then shouldn’t he start on that year’s All-Star team? As for a victim of this crime, if "crime" it is,  and if we had the equivalent of a "Cold Case" file for past travesties in MLB, I’d nominate Tom Tresh, who (or whose kids) is missing a trophy or knickknack or whatever the league gave for playing in the 1965 All-Star game.

Damage is also done to players who have great second halves, especially if they have them fairly consistently (by chance, more than any other factor) over a career with a short peak.  You rarely hear, in a case made for an All-Star candidate "Well, consider the second half of last season." No, that’s usually forgotten by voters, quite as if the second half of the previous year didn’t happen.  Taking my comparison of Glavine and Bottenfield from part 2, if you combine Glavine’s 3-7 record from the first part of 1999, when he wasn’t chosen for the All-Star game, with his record from after that same date in 1998, which was 12-4, his record for the whole season from June 5, 1998 to June 4, 1999 now stands at 15-11. A similar combination of Bottenfield’s entire year (different dates, but a complete second half/first half combo) turns his impressive 14-3 W-L into a less impressive 16-4. Now that we’re comparing a 16-game winner to a 15-game winner, the question becomes a little clearer, and when you compare Glavine’s entire previous career to Bottenfield’s, I think the typical voter (or the manager, actually) has to conclude, quite reasonably (and as it turns out, entirely correctly) "Well, let’s see if Bottenfield can actually sustain this kind of pitching or if it’s just a flukey year." It’s certainly not as tough a case to make as comparing Glavine’s poor start in 1999  alone to Bottenfield’s hot start—if we make the playing field a little closer to level, and we account for the entire year since the last All-Star game, I think we choose the rosters a little differently and a little better. This could be accomplished, not through cherry picking dates, as my example does, so much as just keeping a running tab on who the best pitchers are at the time we’re choosing players. I suspect Glavine would have been much higher than Bottenfield on a running tab whenever the 1999 All-Star team was chosen. If you still want to choose Bottenfield, you can, of course, but you’ve got to do it in the face of what the numbers say.

And since Bill actually does keep a running tab on starting pitchers, we’re pretty much there. I’d like to compare next year’s All-Star team on the basis of Bill’s running tab. I’m suggesting that if we were to keep such tabs at every position, we’d make better choices across the board.

Another problem with choosing players the way we do is the failure to recognize players who don’t get off to a fast start, especially in a short career, where justice won’t always even up. I’m thinking of someone who has a few peak seasons of All-Star caliber play, who has better second halves than first halves, and maybe who plays for a team with some perennial All-Stars, an example of which would be Bill Hands, who had a few very good years with the Cubs, contemporary with teammate HoFers Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins, and several lesser stars, so Hands would never benefit from needing to find some Cub to play on the All-Star team.  Hands’ peak years were 1968-1970, when he averaged 18 wins  and 220 IP a year, but with starts of 6-5, 5-6, and 9-7 (and finishes of 10-5, 15-8, and 9-8) to each of those three years, he came up a tad shy of seeming as dominant in June as he would seem by season’s end. Over a longer peak, those numbers might have evened out, or Hands might have stumbled into a year that few established NL pitchers got off to dominant starts, or something, but his peak just wasn’t long enough.  If you ask someone who followed MLB in those years "Who never made an All-Star team, Bill Hands, Grant Jackson, Ron Reed or Woody Fryman?," however, I think you’d win yourself a bar bet or three. (Jackson, Reed and Fryman all made the squad instead of Hands between 1968 and 1970.)

An even better example of poor luck might be John Tudor, who won more than 13 games only once, in 1985, when he went 21-8. Unfortunately, he achieved this mark after going 1-7 in April and May, so you can fugeddabout him making that year’s All-Star squad, and the next season, when you might expect people would remember his previous year’s last four months, Tudor started the year at a measly 6-5 at the All-Star break, so fugeddabout that too. If voters were at least given a list like Bill’s of "Current Top Pitchers" you can be pretty sure Tudor would have ranked pretty high on that list, and probably gotten more recognition of his actual ability than he got from people who were looking at stats from only the first few weeks of 1986.

Tudor and Hands make their names onto a few lists of players with decent lifetime WAR records who never made an All-Star team, which I’ll include links to below, with a few comments where I have something to say. You can certainly make a team out of these players that would beat the living hell out of the team of worst players who did make an All-star team, but everyone knows that. (Did you know that you can save 15% on your car insurance, though?)   This squad can be arranged into a pretty strong batting order, with no one playing very badly out of position:




Lifetime WAR

Tony Phillips



Dwayne Murphy



Eric Chavez  




Tim Salmon




Richie Hebner




John Valentin  (or Jose Valentin)



32.6   (31.6)

Garry Maddox





Rick Dempsey






With a starting rotation of

John Tudor



Tom Candiotti


Charlie Leibrandt


Bill Hands





Danny Darwin’s WAR puts him near the top of this list, but I don’t see where he ever had a real All-Star type season. There’s nary a HoFer or an MVP on this team (though a few came close to winning an MVP):  what these players mostly have in common is a short peak, during which their talents got overlooked when the All-Star teams were being selected, probably with the thought "Well, yeah, he’s good and deserving, but this year I’m voting for Player Y or Pitcher X, and he can have his turn next year," which never came. No tragedy, but I do believe that each of these fine players would have found himself at the top, or very close, to being the best player in his league at his position if we actually kept close track of such stuff.

Cumulatively, it strikes me as obscene that these players should have zer0 All-Star game appearances while All-Star squads consistently feature one player, and sometimes 3 or 4, close to the middle ranks of players. Obviously, we don’t really care that much about who plays and does not play in this exhibition game, which would be fine with me, or at least I’d be better able to ignore the All-Star game even more than I already do, if we didn’t elevate the results of this exhibition to helping determine the outcome of the World Series, which strikes me as absurd.

Back of the rotation candidates include:

Dennis Leonard  26.1

Jim Barr           30.5

John Denny         29.5



This links to a list of players who never made an All-Star team, and it includes Kirk Gibson, whom I declined to include because Gibson (as noted) DID make the All-Star roster twice, but he preferred to stay home and do laundry, so from me he gets awarded nothing beyond six stripes with a wet noodle. Gibson is famous among certain BJOL denizens for Bill’s comparison of him to Jesus Christ, using the trope of "Jesus never [did this or did that]," listing all the things, including playing in the All-Star game, that Gibson never accomplished.






This link lists Garry Maddox, who was in my opinion the best centerfielder in the NL for several years running—and man could he run!  I love the image that Harry Kalas invented for him, the one about water covering 2/3rds of the Earth’s surface, and Maddox covering the other 1/3.  Isn’t that just about the most succinct and perfect visual image ever?  Nicknamed "The Secretary of Defense," he had established himself as the best fielding outfielder in the league and occasionally had a season in which he hit well, too.  He had a monster year with the bat in 1976.  Often, Maddox was either just above 100 in OPS+ or below it, but his OPS+ in 1976 was 133, and he ranked fifth in MVP voting. (It may be useful to rank players who did well in MVP voting in seasons they failed to make the All-Star team, but I didn’t do that here.) Maddox actually had a better first half (.864 OPS) than a second half (.802 OPS) in 1976, so "a bad start" doesn’t explain it.  He did have a lot of teammates who made the Game that year, so that explains (but doesn’t excuse) Maddox’s omission. Oddly, while he was ranked the 5th-most valuable player in the league, he was found to be (at best) the fifth-best centerfielder in the NL that year, as the starting centerfielder, George Foster (!), and three other players were listed as centerfielders on the 1976 All-Star team, Cesar Cedeno, Bake McBride and Al Oliver.  The starting outfield in that year’s All-Star, considered on defense alone, actually ranks among the All-Time Worst defensive outfields ever, anywhere, anytime, with Greg Luzinski in left, Foster in center and Dave Kingman in right. I’d think you’d want to find a spot for 7-time Gold Glove winner Garry Maddox, if you possibly could, on that team.


Also listed here are two of my personal favorites, both NY Met acquisitions who had career years in otherwise underachieving but often quite good careers, Donn Clendenon and Bernard Gilkey. In both cases, I can understand and even sympathize with whoever was choosing the All-Star teams in their peak seasons. I’m also trying to correct for any personal biases of mine, since "personal bias" is one of my chief complaints here.  Clink (or was his nickname "Clank"? I forget) was a very intriguing and colorful character who played regularly (and well) for the Pirates for a few seasons, before his brief peak with the 1969 and 1970 Mets, after which he suddenly got old.  He might have been an All-Star caliber 1b-man, probably was, but he was competing with McCovey, Cepeda, Bill White, Tony Perez—tough competition. He had a good season in 1965, but his future platoon-mate Ed Kranepool (yet another terrible All-Star selection) was chosen, so maybe there were a few injustices doled out here or there.  In 1970, Clendenon was the 13th-most valuable player in the NL, but he didn’t make the All-Star roster. As for Gilkey, same sort of deal, a regular at a position with many better regulars in the league contemporarily, but a hell of a career year in 1996.  (14th in MVP voting at the season’s end, his only MVP votes ever, as were Clendenon’s in 1970.)  Not exactly what I have in mind in choosing guys whose total of 0 All-Star teams puzzle me: this one I understand completely, as fondly as I remember his 1996.  I once thought of registering on a Mets messageboard under the user-name of "Gilkey as Charged."


This link also mentions players from the 1940s and 1930s whom I’ve omitted, and includes relief pitchers such Mike Timlin and Mark Eichhorn, whom I could have included if I wanted this article to be even longer than it is.




ESPN’s list fleshes out some stories I’ve alluded to above, like Gibson’s, and supplies another interesting approach to this question, that of highest single-season WARs in a non-All-Star year, well worth a look, although it mentions active ballplayers, some of whom have made All-Star teams since the ESPN list was first posted.  One of the stories it tells in some detail is Eric Chavez’s, listing all the AL 3B-men to make the All-Star team in seasons that Chavez was omitted, including Shane Hillenbrand (yes, Hillenbrand started on an All-Star team that Chavez didn’t make. There are plenty of Hillenbrands and Kranepools out there whom I didn’t take the opportunity to mention in the first two parts of this article. As noted, it was mostly anecdotal, and not nearly exhaustive in listing every awful choice ever made for an All-Star team.)





Buggy site (I gave up on trying to navigate the ads, the click-bait, the nonsense) that makes very little sense—Rube Foster and Josh Gibson never made an MLB All-Star team? No sherlock, Shit?  They also nominate Orlando Cabrera, and in his defense stipulate that in his best offensive season, which wasn’t all that good, A-Rod and Nomar were having years that typified their entire careers, so—what was your point about Cabrera, again? Otherwise, Mssrs Co and Ed name the usual suspects, Gibson, Maddox, Salmon, and for some reason they think Eric Karros’s career can be summarized as "great." Their wisest moment comes when they nominate Dennis Leonard, a fine choice of deserving players never to be named to an All-Star team. How does Leonard not make the AL squad in 1977, when he went 20-12 and finished 4th in the Cy Young voting? Will it surprise you if I share the info that he got off to a 6-9 start and then in the second part of the season went a Bottenfieldian 14-3?  Leonard’s 14-3 stretch came in the middle of several years of exemplary baseball, 20-win seasons, gutty playoff starts, Cy Young votes aplenty, while Bottenfield’s 14-3 stretch just came at the right part of the year, the beginning, in a surrounding context of, basically, garbage. 


If you’re thinking at this point, "Hey, the All-Star Game happens in July, the teams need to be chosen by June, so voting needs to happen in April and May—what do you want, that voters should just ignore the baseball that’s being played as they’re voting?" let me propose a thought experiment: Who says the All-Star game has to take place in July? The NFL’s All-Pro game takes place right after the season.  MLB could hold its All-Star game in November in some tropical climate, couldn’t it? And then we could use the entire year to decide who really played at All-Star levels, right? But the thought experiment I’m actually proposing is to hold the All-Star two weeks into the season, in mid-April. If we did that, no one would be voting for the mediocre starting pitcher who won his first two starts, would they?  And no one (well, no one sane) would be arguing that some power-starved humpty who hit 5 home runs in his first 10 games has suddenly emerged as a dominating slugger, right?  We’ve absorbed the lesson that strange things happen all the time in small samples, so why do we do allow an only slightly larger sample, two months rather than two weeks, apply to All-Star choices?  What’s the point of understanding the dangers of small sample size, if we’re determined to ignore it just because it’s traditional to ignore it?



This article draws the conclusion that "few great or even very good players fail to end up in the All-Star game eventually," but they list some players whom they consider great or very good, whom you might not assess as outstanding talents: Ken McMullen, Fritz Ostermueller, Kevin Tapani, like that, and list the WAR rating of various neglected ballplayers. Frankly, when I think of some of them, the first association that pops into my mind is not "All-Star!" Sometimes my first association is "I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?"


So that’s my positive, affirmative recommendation: let’s elect an All-Star team based on a more meaningful measure of games than the last month or two, and let’s get rid of the requirement that every franchise have at least one All-Star regardless of the level of that team’s actual players. Both of these ideas are feasible, and would lead to more, you know, stars playing in the All-Star games.


COMMENTS (20 Comments, most recent shown first)

Steven Goldleaf
"That would be all the 4 game sweeps, and all of the 4 games to 2 wins. I don't think the 4-1 series should be credited to any kind of home field advantage, really."

It's probably not too hard to check, since you're only left with "How many World Series go to 7 games?" --100% of which are where the home-field advantage sits. It's purely a "Who gets the home field in the 7th game?" issue. The way I'd phrase it is "How many 7-game Series get won by the home team?"
5:29 AM Nov 30th
Steven Goldleaf
"That would be all the 4 game sweeps, and all of the 4 games to 2 wins. I don't think the 4-1 series should be credited to any kind of home field advantage, really."

It's probably not too hard to check, since you're only left with "How many World Series go to 7 games?" --100% of which are where the home-field advantage sits. It's purely a "Who gets the home field in the 7th game?" issue. The way I'd phrase it is "How many 7-game Series get won by the home team?"
5:29 AM Nov 30th
Totally agree with you that home field advantage should not be decided by the all star game. Solution does not lie with tinkering with the all star game, though. I much preferred the alternating year method.

I wonder, and I don't feel like checking, but...how many World Series have ended up with an even number of home games for each team? That would be all the 4 game sweeps, and all of the 4 games to 2 wins. I don't think the 4-1 series should be credited to any kind of home field advantage, really.
12:14 AM Nov 30th
Steven: No surprise, I suppose :-) .....you totally misunderstood what that was about -- and frankly I think it's very hard to see how you could have.

It had nothing to do with how you feel about "free expression," nor really anything to do with free expression or the lack thereof at all.

I was talking about what you're proposing in this article, and what you indicate as the thought process behind it.
3:40 PM Nov 29th
Steven Goldleaf
Chuck-- I was ready to express surprise at your point that "In Davalillo's case, he was hitting .321 in the first half of the season and had hit .330 or so over the back half of 1964," since you're usually very well prepared statistically, and I admit that I hadn't looked at Davalillo's second half of 1964 very closely. My counter-argument, assuming you were correct, would have been to question whether a solid record from July-1964 through June 1965 would have been strong enough evidence to outweigh Tresh's previous three seasons (it might have, but it might not have, too) but it turns out you made a critical error--according to bbref.com, Davalillo had a .331 OBP after the 1964 All-Star break, NOT a .331 batting average. His batting average for the second half of 1964 was .282, and his total BA for 1964 was .270, putting a kind of big hole in your argument there, wouldn't you say? I would.
12:57 PM Nov 29th
Steven Goldleaf
Gfletch--If it were just an exhibition game, and no one attached any significance at all to it (certainly not MLB in awarding home-field advantage in the Series, but also people who use the number of All-Star game appearances some player has as evidence that he is a better player than someone else with fewer), you'd have a better point.

But if a marginal candidate faces a strong All-Star with the game on the line, and he costs his league that advantage, well, I do have a problem with that. If it were just some stupid exhibition game, purely for entertainment, and if it neither added to players' reputations nor subtracted from them, I'd be ok with it. I wouldn't watch a pitch of it, mind you, and I'd be a little bored for three days in July, but I don't think I'd devote a column to criticizing it either. We can do better, and I think we should.
12:31 PM Nov 29th
Steven Goldleaf
"by far the bigger issue and (I would say) problem is just the fact that he dislikes the idea that it reflects multiple philosophies and is arguing for a single one."

I have no idea where you get this from. It misrepresents my thinking on the whole subject of free expression, and it misrepresents what I'm arguing here in general. I encourage everyone to express their opinions freely, I feel strongly myself that my opinion is no more valid than anyone else's, and the overarching title of this column, "Thrown From a Moving Vehicle," summarizes my belief that some folks are going to feel that I'm as wrong as wrong can be on many matters.

Nonetheless, I feel obliged to present my own opinions here as clearly as I can, and will change that opinion only when I'm persuaded that the contrary argument makes sense to me, not just when that contrary argument is repeated over and over. And in my view the All-Star teams are chosen very sloppily, and that is a real problem when the outcome of the game determines home -field advantage in the World Series. If you think otherwise, you're entitled to your opinion, however repetitiously and inarticulately you express it.​
12:21 PM Nov 29th
Steven, re your comment: "You seem to have three categories : 1) the most famous players 2) the ones elected to the starting lineups and 3) the rest, just there for filling out the rosters--is that right? So how are you defending the third category again?"

Yes, that's right.

Now, I wasn't defending the third category. It just seemed to me that the thrust of your article tended to boil down to arguments over marginal candidates.

No biggie...
2:49 PM Nov 28th
re the Phillies and Braves: Aren't we just about guaranteed that somebody on each of those teams, actually probably a couple of somebodies to choose from, will be having impressive seasons, and maybe, to boot, will have done particular things that got major notice and became stories? Can we think of any team ever (i.e. since the all star game began) which, by mid-season, didn't have such a player?
I think we'd be hard-pressed to find one. The fact of being unable to know before the season who that might be doesn't seem very telling.

Regarding Steven's additional comments, I would note again that they seem to based on single specific rigid ways of seeing what "all star" means and what the game is about, and not allowing for additional views. In fact, in a sense it seems to me that his underlying basic idea is that he's opposed to how it reflects multiple things, and he wishes it to reflect just one thing.
Of course that one thing happens to be his idea of how it should be, which makes sense, because if someone wants something to reflect just one idea, of course it will tend to be his own idea, and most of us have some quarrel with what his idea happens to be. But I think that by far the bigger issue and (I would say) problem is just the fact that he dislikes the idea that it reflects multiple philosophies and is arguing for a single one.​
11:46 AM Nov 28th

I guess what I'm asking is "What is the cutoff point for a good pick and a bad pick?" I realize that there is a gray area, and that there is a difference between who the fans vote for and who the league names to fill the roster. If I focus on the "star" part of all-star, I don't think I'd have a problem with the fans picking Ichiro or Pujols or Big Papi, guys we think of as future HOFers, even if they are having less than stellar first halfs in 2016.

I have no problem with every franchise having an all-star, but looking at the projected Phillies and Braves rosters next year, no one is jumping out at me as an obvious front-runner to make the NL all-star squad next year.
7:30 AM Nov 28th
Steven Goldleaf
Not sure what you mean, Gfletch, by "I think most of them just want to see the most famous players and the true honours here are for those guys plus the the ones elected to the starting lineups. The rest of them are just there to fill out the roster." The most famous guys are the schlepps I never heard of? How does that work? You seem to have three categories : 1) the most famous players 2) the ones elected to the starting lineups and 3) the rest, just there for filling out the rosters--is that right? So how are you defending the third category again? I don't follow you--but I do appreciate your granting me a right to my opinion, and to stir up discussion, which as you say is my main aim here. I appreciate your reading what I write.

As to Bob's (good) question about Trout--I don't know. Part of my point here is to question what we're choosing when we choose All-Stars. If we're choosing the best, then I'd say that Trout is a good choice. If we're choosing the most known names, again Trout is a good choice. If we're choosing guys having a good season so far, I'd say that depends on Trout's competition at the time. And by my preferred method, of evaluating who's the best player at the position for the past few years including the current season, I'd have to think that Trout begins 2016 as the #1 CFer in the AL, and the numbers you provide don't seem to me negative enough to dethrone him by the time the All-Star rosters would be chosen.
6:30 PM Nov 27th
Let's see, what do I care most about, which marginal player gets an All-Star selection, or whether anybody gets unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame?

I think I'll toss a coin. Here goes...oh my goodness it landed on its edge.
8:38 PM Nov 26th
I think it's clear Steve had it backwards. Maybe he'll chime in as 337 though to even the votes.
4:44 PM Nov 24th
Or, go back to Mike Trout, 2012. He got onto the All-Star team after putting up 2+ months of excellent stats. In 2011 in limited time he had a line of .220/.281/.390. Was that a bad selection?
In Davalillo's case, he was hitting .321 in the first half of the season and had hit .330 or so over the back half of 1964. Tony Oliva won the batting championship at .323 in 1964 and .321 in 1965. So Davalillo was hitting like a batting (avg) champion over a year there. In addition, he led the league in runs saved above average (BBRef). One of his comps is Lorenzo Cain, regardless of the different body types. So, a very good centerfielder, hitting up near the top of the league average, in a time when walks weren't considered, just AVG/HR/RBI, and maybe stolen bases. He hadn't been playing very long, like Trout, and so there was no way to know at that point that he would turn into Vic Davalillo, bench player extraordinaire.

When I've gone back to look at what seem like head-scratcher all-stars, I often find there was something there that would have naturally led to their selection. A young player may not have the track record, but if he's putting up good numbers, he's creating buzz. People are wondering if he's the real thing and want to see him (Fidrych, Puig) compete with the long-time stars.

The rule for the inclusion of at least one rep per team is worth debating, as long as the game "means" something. If my team did not have a player represented- if my team stank on ice and didn't have anyone good on it- would I still be interested in watching the game?... Yes. I don't know what a national vote on that would look like, though.
2:59 PM Nov 24th

I'm not sure I'm following what is a "good" or "bad" selection. Suppose that Mike Trout gets injured in spring training and doesn't make it back to the linup until June. By the All-Star game he's played in 25 games with a slashline of .250/.290/.325. Would I be a genius or an idiot if I put Trout on my 2016 All-Star ballot?

2:15 PM Nov 24th
I don't know if it is a nit worth picking, but perhaps a nit worth examining (?). As Maris pointed out, Bill's original comment was that the All Star voters showed good sense as they did elect Brett, not Harrah. Steven, that brings up a second thought, which is that your article(s) aren't about true All Star players being rejected in favour of mediocrities. They are about very marginal players bumping unremarkable players.

It's clear you think that is an issue worthy of concern (hence, the articles). Me, I think the game is for the fans...all the fans. I think most of them just want to see the most famous players and the true honours here are for those guys plus the the ones elected to the starting lineups. The rest of them are just there to fill out the roster.

Anyway, keep on writing. As long as you are provoking comment, you must be doing something right.
1:20 PM Nov 24th
Steven Goldleaf
As I said, I'm happy to let others decide whether I misrepresented Bill's point about Harrah and Brett, or whether you're picking a nit that isn't worth picking. Not really worth the space arguing with you about. Do you own a mirror, by the way? Your remark about defensiveness is worth reading--it's an excellent point you make, but I doubt you fully absorb it.
10:29 AM Nov 24th
Steven, you're doing what you've done too much of , and it doesn't help you -- you dig in on a mistake, and besides defensiveness not being a great thing anyway, it just further underlines your fuzzy thinking.

You had it backwards. If you think it could be said that you didn't, either you're just not able to see real straight, or your defensiveness trumps all. Hard to say which is less bad.
9:57 AM Nov 24th
Steven Goldleaf
Let's let other people decide who had it backwards. Here's Bill's 1983 Abstract:

"Let's review the facts: Toby Harrah plays in the major leagues for roughly 40 years, during which he clearly and unmistakably establishes that he is not an All-Star. George Brett, over a period of several years, establishes beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is an All-Star. Toby Harrah has a hot streak early in the year, on the strength of which he carries a .336 batting average into the All-Star break with 17 home runs and 45 RBI, while George Brett was stumbling along barely over .300 with only 10 homers. Nevertheless, the nation's baseball fans elect George Brett to the All-Star team, which strikes me as an act of abundant good sense, because everybody in the country knows that George Brett is a better ballplayer than Toby Harrah.

But what comes of this? Why do we have to put up, every All-Star season, with these asinine editorials about why is this guy on the All-Star team . . . Was there one of you out there who really thought that Toby Harrah became a .336 hitter? And if you didn't think that he was a .336 hitter, why did you think that he should have been on the All-Star team? Would you be happy if we scheduled an All-Mediocrities-Who-Had-Good-First-Halves Game? We could play it in Cleveland every year."

Seems to me I was citing the support Harrah was getting for All-Star game, not the outcome of the final vote, which was the occasion for Bill's comment. Obviously in the examples I'm citing here, the voters DON'T always display the judgment in the end that Bill commended them for showing on that occasion. Why would Bill need to devote even a syllable against Harrah's hot start clouding some dopes' minds if there weren't a lot of dopes voting for Harrah over Brett, and complaining that the mediocrity with the .336 batting average wasn't getting the support he deserved?
9:06 AM Nov 24th
re "Bill got me started on this whole approach to the All-Star game way back when, in some early Abstract where he wrote about Toby Harrah, I think, getting more All-Star support than George Brett on the basis of outhitting Brett early in some season": I don't know what to say, and probably I shouldn't be the one to say it because most of my comments under your articles have complained about fuzzy thinking and maybe it'll seem like I'm just at it again :-) .....but:


Harrah didn't get more all star support; he got less. Brett got voted as the starter despite Harrah having the hot first half. Bill's piece was about what good sense the all star voters had, and how sensible the result was.

What the heck, I guess we get inspiration wherever we might, and if the thing that inspired us is the opposite of what we thought it was, who's to say it matters.......

(P.S. I'd say it matters.) :-)
9:38 PM Nov 23rd
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