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All-Stars and Parity

The rules governing All-Star Game roster construction have changed over the years, but one thing has been constant for quite some time: Every team must have at least one representative on the team.  Naturally, this makes for some undeserving selections now and then.

There are plenty of examples, but in recent years, my favorite has been the 2006 selection of Mark Redman.  (I've been fascinated with Redman for a while now--see this article from March 2007.)  In browsing through some ASG history yesterday, I came across another galling Royals pick--Jose Rosado, who made the team twice in four-and-a-half year career.  Seriously--he was an All-Star twice in the late '90s, and I barely remember the guy.

Of course, the Brewers weren't a good team for quite a long time, and one member of the team needed to be selected every year between the Molitor/Yount era and the Ben Sheets era.  In fact, the Brewers had only one All-Star thirteen years in a row, from 1989 to 2001, including such luminaries as Kevin Seitzer, Ricky Bones, and Fernando Vina.

Looking over this year's All-Star rosters, one can find a few picks of this sort, but they are few and far between.  I don't know what it says about parity--even bad teams ought to have one good player, right?--but it is encouraging that we'll see close to 18 half-innings of good pitching.

Here are a few of the 2008 All-Star selections that might raise eyebrows:

  • Cristian Guzman.  He's having a career year, but even his empty .313 batting average leaves him with a 102 OPS+, far behind guys like Jose Reyes and JJ Hardy.  Actually, the Nats aren't that hard up--either John Lannan or Jon Rauch would've made for a credible selection.
  • Brian Wilson.  This one baffles me.  At first, I thought, "Yeah, of course the Giants are sending a lame All-Star."  But of course, the Giants are also sending Tim Lincecum.  Wilson has 25 saves with a WHIP over 1.5.  He's racking up the numbers because the Giants offense never scores enough runs to amass anything bigger than a 3-run lead.
  • George Sherrill.  He's the Wilson of the AL.  He's got 28 saves, which makes him the easy choice as a token team rep, but he's not even the best (or second-best) choice from the bullpen.  Brian Roberts probably deserved the spot more than Sherrill, too.
  • Miguel Tejada.  This, like the Wilson pick, is just weird.  Lance Berkman is a no-questions-asked starter, so there's no need for Tejada on the team, and Miggy's performance certainly hasn't earned him the trip.  Tejada has been out-hit by Guzman (his OPS+ is 95), meaning that he's less deserving than someone who really isn't very deserving.  Jose Reyes should be ticked.  Heck, even Ryan Theriot should be ticked.  At least he's not a lying druggie with no range.

Such a list wouldn't be complete without Derek Jeter (740 OPS with crappy defense!) and Jason Varitek (299 OPS!), but the fans and the players (I presume) are to blame for those. 

In other words, the one-player-per-team rule didn't bite too hard this year.  Really, Guzman and Sherrill are the only guys who snuck in under that rule, and either one could've been replaced by a better option (if not a slam-dunk All-Star, in the case of the Nats) without wreaking too much havoc on the roster.