“Who Created All the Stars?” (Isaiah 40:26), Or “How The Leppert Got His Spot”

October 9, 2015
How accurately does the number of All-Star teams a player makes in his career measure that player’s talent? When people use All-Star teams as any kind of  meaningful metric, my built-in, shockproof BS detector goes wild, not least because people (and even some non-people, such as forces-of-nature like Bill)  will sometimes cite the number of All-Star appearances in assessing players’ greatness (or lack thereof) though it’s really the crudest sort of approximation, subject to so many variables that have little to do with talent: which era a player plays in, who his teammates are,  what position he plays, who his contemporaries are at his position, who’s managing the team, how beloved (or detested) that player is by fans, how long his career lasts…the list goes on and on.

Some of these factors even out, I suppose, but others may multiply, and I’m sure there are deserving players who never made an All-Star team as well as players on multiple All-Star teams who did not deserve their fates.  I’ll leave nominations for The Best Player Never to Make an All-Star Game and The Worst Player Who Made the All-Star Game Repeatedly open for your comments, but Tony Phillips and Bobby Richardson leap to the forefront of my mind. Phillips had so much better a career than Richardson, almost ridiculously so, having had a full career’s worth of seasons that each rank higher than Richardson’s best year.  I’m quite sure there are better examples in each category—Phillips and Richardson just pop into my head. My point is that using career All-Star squads as a meaningful statistic is akin to using a brick as a fly swatter—you may often hit what you’re aiming for, but you’re going to make a god-awful mess in the process.

An anecdote that I find more funny than instructive does teach a little bit, too. I  just perused some All-Star rosters from the 1960s, a period when I was only slightly less focused on Major League Baseball than a German Shepherd is on a piece of steak dangled three feet above his nose. One year, according to Baseball-Reference, the AL featured a player on their All-Star team named Don Leppert, a name that in 2015 meant absolutely nothing to me. No recognition at all.  I couldn’t even guess what position Leppert played, so I looked up his stats. (I'd thought they sent Lepperts into special colonies so no one else would catch the disease.) Turned out his stats weren’t all that bad: he scored 46 runs and hit 15 HRs, so okay, maybe that does warrant an All-Star selection.  Problem was, though, that those aren’t his stats for half a season, and they’re not even his stats for the entire 1963 season, which was his All-Star year. They’re Leppert’s career stats.  The guy played parts of 4 seasons, and I mean "parts": he never once played half of his team’s games. That year, there were 16 AL catchers (he played catcher, as it happens—everyone who knew that, raise your hand) who caught more innings than Don Leppert did, some of them with pretty good careers, most of them having  zero All-Star games to their credit.  Now, I’m not arguing for a second that these guys deserved that All-Star spot while Leppert didn’t, though it would be hard to argue that Leppert had a career half as good as Gus Triandos, Buck Rodgers or a few other of these guys, but I am arguing that being selected for an All-Star Game or two isn’t always a good measure of players’ quality.

Leppert made the 1963 AL All-Star team, of course, not because he was among the hundred best players in the league that year, or ever, but because he played for the Senators, who weren’t exactly awash with talent. According to the rules, however, Washington got to claim one spot on the All-Star team, so Leppert got that spot.  Maybe it also worked in his favor that there were only two catchers in the AL, the Earl of Battey and the Elston of Howard, who were having a distinctly better first half of the season than Leppert--they were the only two to catch more than 1000 innings that year, and they cleared that figure easily. Battey was selected as the starting catcher, and Howard, his backup, was the league’s Gold Glover and eventual MVP, but no other AL catcher had a decent year.  According to Baseball-Reference, Leppert’s season ranked 9th in WAR on the Senators’ 1963 roster, with a whopping 0.2.   (Sorry, Don, if you’re a BJOL subscriber, or if you’re Googling your name and come across this passage—I don’t mean anything personal in denigrating your career like this. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, just about to turn 84 years old next week, and deserve this abuse even less than you deserved your All-Star team selection in 1963.)  There are all sorts of other problems in using All-Star games as a crude metric of quality, of course, such as the undeserving All-Stars chosen by their own managers out of gratitude or loyalty or some other virtue. All admirable human traits, yes, but not exactly what we’re looking for in using All-Star squads as a measure of quality.

But those other problems are not an injustice I need to whine about here.  (Feel free, of course, to whine away in the comments section below—I’ll be interested in reading your nominations for most unjust All-Star selections and omissions.)  Rather, I’m going to propose a few new wrinkles in the selection process that should make the process a little more rational, if not actually more fair, and a lot more fun.

I would have different groups of people vote at different times during the season. At the very start of the season, the first vote could actually take place, a vote to elect captains of the All-Star squads. Nearly every All-Star team has a player or three who, by merit of his play that season (or half-season) might not deserve selection, but who, whether he’s played in numerous prior All-Star games or not, is well-thought of, popular and, well, just flat-out belongs on the All-Star squad, however well or poorly he’s playing just now.  Team would nominate one veteran player each, loosely defined, whom they think deserving of this honor, and the players on each opening day roster would vote for this year’s captain. (I like the notion of players being ineligible to vote for their teammates, and would institute this as a rule in players’ voting.) This selection would take place in the final days of Spring Training.

A function of spreading the vote out over time and between different bodies of voters is to ensure fairness and to generate publicity. There would be a little buzz, don’t you think, about who this year’s captain is going to be. Newspaper columns could promote and denigrate certain candidates, argue why or why not Candidate X should be chosen over Candidate Y, and we’d get the result just as the season is beginning. It's a feel-good story.

Then we’d start the fans voting for a starting lineup. To prevent ballot-stuffing abuses, we can hold a variety of different sorts of fans’ votes.  (Bill originally proposed a "precincts" model a few decades back. This is by way of updating that idea.)  One, an online precinct, where fans can stuff the ballot to their hearts’ content, using as many different email addresses and multiple ballots as they like.  Two,  (or in practice, over two dozen precincts, one in each ballpark), ballots distributed at the ballpark, valid only on the day of the ballgame, to reward those fans who actually come out to the park, especially in cold spring weather. Again, multiple voting is allowed, but only one ballot will be distributed with each ticket: buy thirty tickets to April and May games, you get thirty votes.  (I’d also print ballots limited to the league the particular ballpark is in, on the assumption that these are the fans most familiar with the players they’re voting for.) Three, I’d have a ballot sent (ONE ballot) to each household subscribing to MLB.tv. (In the case of bars, barbershops, restaurants etc., I’d encourage them to hold their own internal votes among their customers to vote on how the establishment’s ballot be filled out.)  On the on-line ballots, I’d update each player’s stats to reflect that player’s stats, and WAR, over the last 162 games, just so fans relying on last season’s stats for convenience, will be able to avoid over-dependence on out-of-date data. And add a few more such sorts of precincts of different groups of fans (ballots printed in local newspapers, maybe some fantasy-baseball sites, like that),  the governing idea being that if you’ve got enough precincts, of different sizes, each one’s preference would count only once, so there's little sense in rigging any one precinct in particular. 

With several dozen precincts, each would select nine All-Stars, but it would be damnably double difficult for any one precinct to stuff all the ballot-boxes.  If Job Lowe wins the Cincinnati or the Kansas City ballpark vote (and why are Midwesterners so prone to ballot-stuffing anyway? I thought they were decent, honest salt-of-the-earth types), but Moe Joe wins a majority of the other precincts, what have Job Lowe’s devoted fans accomplished? They’ve wasted their ballots, true, and with far more effort expended (and a lot less fun) than if they’d simply made paper airplanes out of the ballots and threw them at each other. The idea is to get different groups of fans involved in the voting. Again, I’ll be interested in seeing your suggestions for more possible fan-precincts that I haven’t thought of.

We could conclude this fan voting fairly early on in the process.  Fans would be choosing, as they do, based on reputation, which means they would be choosing players largely on last year’s stats (and this year’s presence on the roster), both of which would be known in April and May.  Since some ballots would need to be printed in advance, it would be difficult to ensure that late roster changes, injuries, etc. would be reflected in the voting. The next round of balloting in early June would reflect recent developments—surprise starters, rookies, part-timers emerging into full-time players—rather than asking fans to keep up with events as they occur. This next round (closing around mid-to-late June) would be a players’ vote (again, on players in their league, but not on their teams). By mid-June, when they’ve seen every team play against them, if there’s a rookie or a player filling in for an injured teammate or someone having a breakout year, the players will be best equipped to account for that—it’s not as if some very impressive player would go unnoticed by the people whose ears he’s been beating in for the past three months. Each active player would get a ballot consisting of every player in the league, minus those already chosen as captains and by the fans (and those on their own team, of course) and they would elect four pitchers and four non-pitchers.

With 18 players selected (one captain, nine starters, and eight more players chosen by the players), I’d turn the next round over to a group of respected savants: One BBWAA rep, one broadcasting rep, one freelance stats guru (like Rob Neyer or Tom Tango),  etc. This committee of five to ten savants would serve on a one-time-only basis (to ensure a minimum of tradeoff-type deals—"Vote for my guy this year and I’ll vote for yours next year" kind of thing) and would actually meet, in person, to discuss their candidates, argue their cases, and arrive at a consensus of the five best players in the each league not already chosen. You could even schedule the discussion as a two-hour special live show on ESPN. I’d certainly tune in to hear this discussion: it would be like "PTI" or "Highly Questionable?" only this hour or two of TV-blather would actually have consequences. This committee of savants meets the final week of June. That gets us up to 23 All-Stars.

The first week of July, we ask every living former All-Star player (I suppose at any point in time, there are probably close to a hundred of these around) to select five additional players. All of these different bodies, by the way, would be correcting the previous groups’ mistakes and oversights, so no one could complain that the All-Star team’s voters had a blind spot—if several groups each get a shot to compensate for previous groups’ outrageous omissions, well, I guess they’re not that outrageous, after all.  And then, a week or so before the game, the manager and his coaching staff (which consists, as it does now, of managers from teams other than his own, of course, preventing the manager from doling out All-Star spots to his personal favorites) can select two more players who can best balance the team out, in the event that the process has shorted the team at any given position. They can also vote on replacements, a few days before the game takes place, to account for any last-minute injuries or players who decline the honor of playing in the game.  Personally, I’d do away with the requirement that every team has a representative (I think it’s a silly and condescending rule) but if you really want to keep that rule (can we call it the Don Leppert Rule?), you could also require that the managers and coaches include any overlooked teams in these last-minute selections,

That’s thirty players, a goodly number given the modern number of teams. Before moving on to the Game itself, let’s address the issue of players declining to appear in All-Star games. I wouldn’t allow it.  If you’re voted on as an All-Star, you’re going to the game. Not badly injured players, of course, but I would declare a mandatory and immediate 15-day disabled list appearance for anyone who declines to participate in the game.  A player who’s hurting but doesn’t want to go on the DL, can opt to ask his A-SG manager to leave him on the bench, but he’s still going to have to show up at the ballpark, take BP, pose for pictures, do interviews, etc.—who’s going to beg off and still go to all that trouble without playing in the game unless he’s really hurt?

Many players are contractually rewarded for being chosen as All-Stars, though their contracts don’t specify that must actually play in the game to collect—I suppose that’s why it’s so common for recent players to prefer the three days off to the honor of playing.  Sorry, but that’s no longer allowed, at least not without taking yourself off your own team’s roster for 15 days, a move that I’m sure the player’s teammates will disapprove of heartily.

My next issue with the All-Star Game is the whole "incentive to win" thing. Standing proud at the very top of my list of "Idiotic Innovations to MLB that I Detest," just above "the DH," is making home field advantage for the World Series depend on the outcome of the All-Star Game. It makes no sense at all to think that All-Stars are going to play harder, or better, or anything, really, just because some team in their league (and the odds are very heavy that’s it’s not going to be their own team) is going to benefit from an All-Star Game victory. Are we even sure that players are always rooting for their own league’s team to win the Series?  As a NL fan, I often want the other league’s Series entry to kick the everloving tar out of the NL representative, especially if it’s a team that’s played my team rough or dirty or nasty during the regular season.  You think Bryce Harper is sitting in front of his TV this week, cap-backwards, with Cheetos and a pitcher of beer, chanting "Let’s Go, Mets"? More likely, he’s rooting for the Mets’ team plane to crash en route to LA.

Here’s a much stronger motivation for the All-Star team to win the Game: self-interest.  Instead of giving a one-game home-field advantage in the World Series to some team that’s probably not their own, let’s make the margin of victory in each year’s All-Star game determine the number of players on next year’s All-Star squad. That is, if the AL team wins the All-Star Game by four runs in 2016, then the 2017 AL squad gets four extra players on the team. This would motivate the players because (since most All-Stars are going to play in the same league next season) each run opens up a whole extra slot, thus increasing each player’s chances of making next year’s All-Star team;  as already stated, many players have a bonus clause in their contracts if they make the All-Star team. This also ensures that even in a blowout most teams will be playing their best, and that even in the biggest blowout games no one will stop trying to score runs or to prevent the other team from scoring until the final out is made.

This proviso also means no manager is going to run through his bench and bullpen unnecessarily in a close game, because he will need those players if the game goes to extra innings.  Each manager will keep a few starters available if that’s the case, and keep some pinch-hitters ready as well—IOW, it will be much more like a real game than like some stupid exhibition where the goal is to make sure that every player gets into the game, or whatever the hell is going on in the minds of All-Star managers.

OTOH, we don’t want to abuse the players, or bore the fans, so instead of an occasional All-Star Game ending at 2 AM with the score tied and every pitcher on the team having ruined his arm, and several players at positions they haven’t played since middle school, here is how I’d settle ties: after a certain predetermined point (I’d say the 12th inning) of a tied game, the tie would go to (wait for it) the team that won the HR Derby.

Yes, I’d turn that pre-game spectacle (which I personally haven’t watched in, uh, how long ago was "forever"?) into a tie-breaker. You can bet that I’ll pay attention now to that otherwise unwatchable spectacle. Now the players chosen to participate in HR Derby will be hotly contested instead of "Who? He’s in the HR Derby this time? Why? Oh, well, what does it matter?"  And you can structure the HR Derby so that it’s far more competitive.  Each batter gets to bring a non-All-Star teammate with him to the Game to pitch to him, and they’d work as a mini-team, the batter describing the pitches he wants and the pitcher serving them up at the speed and in the location the batter wants.  The batter must swing at every pitch—if he doesn’t, or if he misses it completely, he is eliminated from the tournament, so the pitcher’s control will obviously be critical here. Whichever league emerges from the HR Derby with the winner also wins any game that is tied after twelve innings. That will pack some fannies in the seats.

In fact, you could re-institute many of the pre-game contests that Bill rightly complains about disappearing from the game. They were fun. They prompted excitement on fans’ part, on players’ part. They were a means to get non-fans, people who know nothing about the game, to get interested. So why have these contests of skill been discontinued? Fear of injury?  To be fair, in a few cases I can see where the skills demanded do risk injury, particularly the long-throw.

But, hey, don’t outfielders practice long-throwing? I would assume so—otherwise how would they maintain the long-throwing skills they must employ under game conditions?  Let’s stipulate we want to eliminate the risky contests. There are plenty of skill contests that aren’t risky in the least that I’d love to see. Wouldn’t you love to see a contest of control pitching, or maybe "Beat The Radar Gun"? Obviously, after the pitchers are thoroughly warmed-up, on a day, say, or two days before the Game itself, when most of them will do some throwing anyway, you’d set up a small target 60’ 6" from the pitching rubber,  and you’d see who can hit it the most times and at the fastest speed. Wouldn’t that interest you? You can probably measure all sorts of fancy stuff with radar guns and Questec and the like that you could hardly imagine twenty years ago--so let's employ some of this cutting-edge technology in this game which is supposed to be an entertainment extravaganza.

And don’t fast players practice running all-out? Of course they do. You could have sprints from home to first base, timed down to three decimal places, or longer sprints around the bases. You could feature a lot of these contests, all involving no contact, all involving skills that players must routinely practice all the time.  And you could have any of them serving as meritorious tie-breakers if you don’t want (who does?) to have marathon All-Star games. I’d sure be curious to see which player can run from home to second base the quickest, or which pitcher can knock a milk bottle off a stool with a 92 MPH fastball.

Maybe these tweaks would make All-Star rosters a little more rational than they are now, and more fun, and there would be more merit in citing players’ appearances in All-Star Games as a measure of their quality. Maybe I’ve just gotten blasé or bored with the spectacle after a lifetime of watching it and caring who won, but I remember when it was one of the high points of my season. I can easily imagine it being so again.


COMMENTS (22 Comments, most recent shown first)

And then, tell me who cares.
5:45 AM Oct 25th
those, don't look it up. Tell me who won.
5:44 AM Oct 25th
I have been stewing over this article since I left my comment yesterday, and the more I stew, the less I like the article. It is about the most blatant example of advocacy baseball writing I can remember. The article begins innocently and appropriately enough by asking how well the number of all-star games a player takes part in measures his quality as a player. That seems like a worthy question for BJOL, one that lends itself to analysis. Let's see, how should we analyze it? Perhaps look at how well career WAR correlates with total number of all-star game appearances? Maybe look at the average (mean) WAR of all-star game participants in the season they were selected, or in the half-season before they took part, as compared with all other full-time players in that season or half-season? Did Steven do this, or anything remotely like this? No. Instead, he took the worst example of an undeserving all-star participant (based on season and career numbers and WAR) he could find and went from there into a long argument that the way selections are made for the all-star game should be changed, and then in more detail, just how they should be changed. And he NEVER ESTABLISHED that taking part in a bunch of all-star games doesn't correlate with being a very good player. I bet it does in fact correlate with being a very good player, and the more all-star games, the better the player. But it's not on me to make that case, it's on Steven. Or to refute it. Then you might have a basis for recommending changes in the selection process. Really, this was not well done, despite there being several interesting points in the article and some well-deserved criticisms of the all-star game. Steven: Why don't you try it again, the right way this time, arguing from fact and analysis?
6:45 PM Oct 17th
It's not only Steven who has solutions for problems that don't need solving, by the way. I don't see thi as a problem in need of a solution, although I hate the tupidity of deciding World Series home-field advantage by the all-star game. That is just ugly. Others have made their good points about Steven's article, but my point is this: If you add players to the league's roster based on the run differential of the winning league, it seems to me that you're starting a positive feedback loop. The more players on your roster, the better your chances of winning, and so on.....

I had never heard of Don Leppert.
8:55 PM Oct 16th
My instinctive vote for the worst all-star selection is Mike Williams (Pirates reliever), in 2003, who got selected despite having an ERA in the mid 6.00s in mid-July . Seriously, how does that work? Per b-r, his final WAR for the season was... -1.3
9:30 AM Oct 13th
Well, for one thing, mauimike, the Pro Bowl earlier this year was in Arizona (not Hawaii), and the NFL seemed to somehow fill out the rosters.
7:59 AM Oct 13th

As a young kid growing up in Indianapolis, getting Leppert's baseball card that said "Home: Indianapolis, IN" gave me hope that I could replace Mickey Mantle as the Yankees centerfielder. And for a 7 year old Bob, having an Indianapolis native as an All-Star? Priceless.
7:11 AM Oct 13th
All Star games are stupid and have always been. We can thank Arch Ward, sports editor for the Chicago Tribune for inventing two of them. The baseball all star game and the college all star game. Remember that one. The college all stars played the NFL Champion, sometime in July in Chicago. It finally died in 1976, during a rainstorm, when the fans took to the field and the teams never returned. The game died a silly death, but at least it died. The NBA all star game is a joke. 172 to 169. There is no pretense of a game, just shoot. If the NFL didn't play its game in Hawaii, how many players would show up? You mean I just played 16 games, didn't win crap, didn't make the playoffs and now I gotta go play another, just when I'm starting to heal? When was the last time any of you watched the NFL all star game, or whatever it's called. Is it a good idea to have a three day break in the middle of the season? I don't think so. Baseball is everyday and now it's a four day break. (Did you ever notice the the number four is the only number that has the same number of letters as its number indicates?) I say get rid of all the all star games, who really cares. I assume hockey has an all star game, f**k em.
1:58 AM Oct 13th
172 bucks. Some people have too much money for their own good.
5:58 PM Oct 10th
Steven Goldleaf
The post below needs to be cut and pasted into your browser--it's a letter (not sure if it's teeny-tiny, but if so it can be blown up nicely) from Joe Cronin informing Leppert of his selection. It also helpfully informs him in which state he might locate the city of Cleveland, just in case Leppert had never heard of that city.

11:01 AM Oct 10th
Steven Goldleaf
10:58 AM Oct 10th
Her forte would be makeup games.
8:34 PM Oct 9th
I would suggest that Kathryn Harris could be brought in to settle any disputed precincts, decide on which ballots have hanging chads, etc. That seemed to work pretty well in 2000 in Florida.
7:41 PM Oct 9th
Quoting steve161 "Steven, I don't think I know anybody else who has as many solutions to non-existent problems. "

True, but it's an air-castle article...an exercise in fun without any hope of being adopted seriously.

One other disagreement...a lot of people hate having home advantage in the World Series decided by the All Star Game...but it's not a real big deal...we used to just alternate between the leagues year by year. I guess that was fair. The 1961 Yankees had home field advantage but didn't appear to need it. The 1960 Yankees had a marginally better record than the Pirates, but the Pirates had home field advantage...that might have made a difference...and could be considered unfair.
5:03 PM Oct 9th
Obviously, being selected once is pretty meaningless. Equally obviously, being selected 24 times is very meaningful. The more times it happens, the more reason to suspect we're talking about a pretty good player. Even so, as MF61 says, it's one datum, to be weighed and balanced with a mass of other information.

It's like pitcher wins. Any half-way decent hurler can get enough run support to win 16 games once or twice. It starts to get your attention when it happens half a dozen times or so, and even more as the seasons pile up.

Steven, I don't think I know anybody else who has as many solutions to non-existent problems. Baseball's is the best of the All-Star Games because it's the sport that suffers least when you take the violence out of it. It's never going to be as intense as a regular season contest, but I enjoy watching the players enjoying themselves.

I agree that tying it to the World Series is silly, but if you gave me a choice between changing that and eliminating the DH--Papi, start oiling your trapper.
4:25 PM Oct 9th
I liked the Elston of Howard quip.

I have to agree with Marisfan61. Appearing on an All Star Team Roster isn't a measure of quality, particularly, but then there are lots of things that don't indicate real quality unless they are done many times. If a player is an All Star selection 10 or more times I see that as a feather in the baseball cap. It's not the whole story, but it is part of the story.

Besides, I love it that Don Leppert slipped through the cracks and made an All Star team...it gives us all an excuse to peer back in time through actual memories, or look a forgotten player up on BB-Ref.
4:00 PM Oct 9th
Rich Dunstan
I remember Leppert. As a kid I used to read box scores obsessively, looking for new names and trying to guess who the team had farmed out to make room for the new guy. For some reason Leppert stuck in my mind over the years as the quintessential new guy that I had to account for. Later he was a coach for the Blue Jays when they came into the league. BTW, I see on BaseballReference there have been two Don Lepperts in MLB. They're about the same age; the other one was a 2b who played a few games in 1955, too far back for me to remember.
12:00 PM Oct 9th
P.S. I hadn't seen the prior replies. I see that BobGill pointed out the 3-HR game, which Steven didn't know about. That's part of what I meant, but not all: Besides that game, he had a very hot start to the season overall. An all star appearance is sometimes a recognition of that, and, like everything else, it's 'useful information.'

When that information isn't particularly indicative of what kind of player the guy is, he generally doesn't make too many more all star teams, as Don Leppert didn't. The Leppert example doesn't argue against the indicativeness of numbers of all star appearances toward assessments of greatness or whatever; it supports it.
10:56 AM Oct 9th
I think you're mistaken on quite a bit, and right from the start.

First of all, the thing that appears to be your main premise -- "the number of All-Star appearances [is] really the crudest sort of approximation, subject to so many variables that have little to do with talent" -- is absolutely false (no IMO needed here). BTW I'd say that the term you use for what's really important -- "talent" -- isn't well chosen, and since it would give me too much cognitive dissonance to use it, forgive me if instead I say "how good a player he is."

In some few cases it has little to do with how good a player he is.
In the very great majority it has a lot to do with it.

Would any reader disagree with that?
Don't be shy to speak up, one way or the other. :-)
It's important here, because unless you disagree with that, the gist of the article just about disappears immediately. As to whether the rest of the article disappears, I couldn't tell you, because when I see something like that right off the bat, the remainder mostly loses its appeal. Although I do fondly remember Don Leppert :-) and I would agree that he's not our typical all star. (BTW there's a little more to why he made the all star team than what is said here, and y'all may not think that's any legitimate reason either, but I'd say that if you want to be using this as an example for anything, it is of interest, and it was ignored. I'll just say this: It's a little element of some interest if you want to be grasping Leppert's career and why he made the all star team.)

Skimming further in the article, there's also this thing that catches the eye -- I'm sure not the eye of everyone here, but it would catch many eyes besides mine:

"I’ll leave nominations for The Best Player Never to Make an All-Star Game and The Worst Player Who Made the All-Star Game Repeatedly open for your comments, but Tony Phillips and Bobby Richardson leap to the forefront of my mind. Phillips had so much better a career than Richardson, almost ridiculously so, having had a full career’s worth of seasons that each rank higher than Richardson’s best year. "

I quoted that in its entirety rather than just saying "the thing about Richardson and Phillips," because what catches the eye about this is not just the common sabermetric deprecation of Richardson, which is already questionable although arguable, but the smug certainty of it. I'll bypass the arguments because this is already long enough, except to say that there ought to be more restraint or at least less smugness in stating that a player was so much poorer than his reputation, which presumably includes a belief that the several Gold Gloves were ridiculous or that second-base defense isn't that important.

The fact is that numbers of all star appearances are meaningful indicators, not infallible ones but then again hardly anything is. And, need we say, contrary to what this article would have someone believe if he dropped from Mars and this article were the first thing he saw, nobody in the world bases an assessment of a player solely on numbers of all star appearances, and it's doubtful that anyone bases it heavily on that. Like everything else, it's information, and it happens to be an additional and different kind of information than what you can get from anything else. I'd put it under the rubric of what I think Bill called 'the objective record of subjective judgments'; if he didn't, then I'll gladly take credit for it. :-)
10:51 AM Oct 9th
Steven Goldleaf
Yup, third game of the year, against Boston. I was thinking that maybe he hit the 3 HRs against the Yankees, and impressed Ralph Houk unduly, but no it was against the Sox, another losing club. Reviewing Leppert's stats for 1963, I see he did get off to a hot start, batting a Ted Williams-like .406 through his first 12 games. Since he ended 1963 at .237 I'll let you do the math, but that is really milking a hot two weeks, wouldn't you say?
10:14 AM Oct 9th
Steven Goldleaf
OK, great, we've got one hand up in the air first shot out of the box. I did not know that (Johnny Carson voice) Leppert ever hit 3 HRs in a game, you are correct, sir. This is the Kirk-Niewenhuis-for-NL-MVP-in-2015 argument. I suppose that, for that one afternoon, Leppert WAS one of the best players in MLB, though in a way that argues against him, too: if a guy hits great in a single game, that means he hit slightly lousier than his season stats would indicate in every other game-- well, there's only so many times you can win that single game. (I hope the Senators won that game--that would be a pisser, wouldn't it, if they didn't get a win out of Leppert's greatest--dare I say "only great"?-- game.) Glad someone actually remembers Don Leppert. I thought maybe Baseball-Reference was pulling a fast one.
10:07 AM Oct 9th
Don Leppert has always been the first player I cite when thinking about the worst (maybe "least accomplished" would be better) to make an all-star team. I was a 9-year-old Senators fan at the time, and I knew he wasn't close to the best player on the team; that was Don Lock or Chuck Hinton. But I guess the AL was awash in outfield stars, and as you said, aside from Howard and Battey there was no other automatic choice at catcher. And something you may not have known: Of Leppert's six home runs that year, three of them came in one game, and that was early in the season, before they picked the all-star team, so it probably earned him some extra notice, enough so that when the manager or whoever picked the all-star reserves came to the required selection from the Senators, Leppert's name might have come to mind.
9:52 AM Oct 9th
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