Kyle's post on who didn't get into this year's All-Star Game got me thinking about trends in who sits and who plays in baseball's July marketing extravaganza. In particular, I wondered if the change to the game "mattering" after 2002 had any effect on managers' personnel decisions. The bad news is I couldn't find the complete data I needed for pre-2002 games. The good news is, the trends since then are kind of interesting on their own.
The first thing I did was grab all the All-Star rosters starting with 2003, and make note of who was voted to start the game (i.e., the players that the managers had no choice but to play), who was selected as a reserve, and who came in late as an injury replacement for final spot vote winner. In addition, I also kept all the information about players officially on the roster but not available due to injury, having pitched the prior Sunday, etc. In recent years, rule changes and happenstance have led to a big jump in unavailable All-Stars, but the number who are available but don't get in hasn't fluctuated too much (click to embiggen):
Notably, everybody got into the 15-inning game in 2008, and the two leagues have actually tracked fairly close to each other over the last 11 games in terms of the percentage of available players who don't get in:
The big outlier here is 2006, when the NL squad left 40% of their non-voted-in players on the bench. Carlos Beltran played the entire game, while Andruw Jones nervously followed Phil Garner around the dugout, waiting to get in.
Although 61 first-time All-Stars failed to get onto the field in the last 11 games, there is no significant connection between lack of All-Star experience and riding the pine. The average benchwarmer has been selected to 2.71 All-Star teams, compared with 3.01 for the average player who gets into the game. Not surprisingly, though, there's a huge difference between pitchers and position players. Pitchers don't get into the game 28.5% of the time, compared with just 10.5% for non-voted-in position players -- and this is after taking ineligibility due to pitching on Sunday into account. I didn't dig into all the specifics, but I did happen to notice that twice in the last three years, Bruce Bochy has selected and then declined to play two eligible Giants pitchers. Injury replacements and final vote winners are also less likely to get into the game, with 30.2% sitting versus 17.3% of initially selected reserves.
From the team representation angle, it's been a particularly poor time to be a fan of a couple teams when the All-Star Game rolls around. Here are the teams represented by only one player on the entire roster, with teams whose one player didn't play in bold:
|2003||Devil Rays, Indians, Orioles, Tigers, Twins||Astros, Diamondbacks, Expos, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Reds|
|2004||Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Mariners, Orioles, Royals, Twins, White Sox||Braves, Diamondbacks, Expos, Padres, Pirates, Rockies|
|2005||Athletics, Devil Rays, Indians, Mariners, Royals, Tigers||Brewers, Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres, Pirates, Reds, Rockies|
|2006||Angels, Athletics, Devil Rays, Indians, Orioles, Royals||Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants, Nationals, Padres, Reds|
|2007||Athletics, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Orioles, Rangers, Royals, White Sox||Cardinals, Giants, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates, Reds|
|2008||Athletics, Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles, Royals, Tigers||Dodgers, Nationals, Padres, Pirates, Reds|
|2009||Athletics, Indians, Orioles, Royals, White Sox||Braves, Cubs, Nationals, Reds|
|2010||Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Royals||Astros, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Pirates|
|2011||Athletics, Orioles, Royals, Twins||Astros, Cubs, Marlins, Nationals, Padres, Rockies|
|2012||Athletics, Blue Jays, Mariners, Red Sox, Royals, Twins||Astros, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Padres, Rockies|
|2013||Angels, Astros||Cubs, Dodgers, Marlins, Padres|
The Royals twice had back-to-back years in which their one guy didn't get into the game, amidst a stretch of nine straight years with only one representative. Another oddity -- the Cardinals, as defending champions in 2007, had only one representative, and he didn't play. In 2005, only two players sat for the AL, and they were both the only representative from their team.
Lastly, if you guessed that the Yankees (51) and Red Sox (50) would top the list of teams with the most total All-Stars since 2003, you'd be right; the Brewers are #11 with 27. But only two-thirds of the Red Sox All-Stars (33) actually play in the game -- the Yankees (41) top that list, followed by the Rangers (36) and Cardinals (34), with the Brewers at #8 (23). The poor Royals have had almost as many non-players (6) as players (8). The Pirates are close behind, with 40% of their All-Stars not playing, and the A's lose 35.3% of theirs.