Major League Baseball: 15 Historical All-Star Snubs
What a difference a year makes! Just last July, the north side of Chicago was buzzing with pride as seven Cubbies made the trip to San Diego for the Mid-Summer Classic. Fast-forward to today, when the World Series Champions are the first team in All-Star history to not have a single player picking up a World Series Ring from the prior season (i.e. named to the All-Star team). Now, an argument could be made that the Cubbies haven’t had a stellar first-half of 2017, but to be completely shutout from last season’s title-winners has many scratching their heads. Certainly, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have been close to all-star numbers (Bryant is hitting .263 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI, while Rizzo is hitting at a .259 clip with 20 homers and 56 RBI), and with their popularity one would think at least one of the “Brizzo” duo would have gotten a nod – but not this time. The All-Star Game is no stranger to snubs, and as long Major League Baseball continues to make the game a “popularity contest” rather than having a showcase of “the Best of the Best”, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will get the votes. Take a look below at some of history’s All-Star Snubs:
15. Lenny Dykstra, 1993
In 1985 the Mets deemed Lenny Dykstra ready for the major leagues and he was promoted to big league club when the team’s starting center fielder, Mookie Wilson, was placed on the disabled list. Dykstra’s play and energy boosted the Mets to a 98-win season, narrowly missing out on the NL East crown. The following season, Dykstra was first intended to be platooned in center field with Wilson, but when Wilson suffered a severe eye injury during spring training, Dykstra took over the position as outright starter and leadoff hitter. Dykstra’s first season as an All-Star was in 1990 after moving from the Mets to the Phillies. Injuries plagued his 91 and 92 seasons, but in 1993 Dykstra started solid, and despite a .295 average, 10 home runs, 27 RBI, and 85 runs at the break in 93’, he spent the break at home in Philly. Dykstra responded with back-to-back trips in 1994 and 1995.
14. Albert Pujols, 2002
At midseason 2001, Albert Pujols became the first Cardinals’ rookie since Luis Arroyo in 1955 to make the All-Star Game. Pujos completed the 2001 campaign sixth in the league in hitting with a .329 average with 194 hits, 47 doubles, 37 home runs, and 112 runs. His 37 home runs led the Cardinals, topping both Jim Edmonds and Mark McGwire. He was named the NL Silver Slugger Award winner for the third base position, and he finished fourth in NL MVP voting behind Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Luis Gonzalez. He was unanimously named the NL Rookie of the Year after setting an NL rookie record with 130 RBIs and becoming the fourth MLB rookie to hit .300 with 30 home runs, 100 runs, and 100 RBIs. Despite his rookie numbers his 2002 stats didn’t warrant a trip to the mid-summer classic? His stats at the break in 2002, his off year: 66 runs, 91 hits, 21 HR, 66 RBI, .294 avg., .973 OPS.
13. Albert Belle, 1998
Albert Belle was an intimidating presence at the plate and during his career and became the fourth player to have eight straight seasons of 30 home runs and 100 RBI, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have since joined that club. An excellent baserunner and base stealer, he posted a career high of 23 steals in 1993, and a surprising 17 steals in 1999 despite hip problems. He led the league three times in RBIs, three times in total bases, three times in extra-base hits and twice in slugging. He was a five-time All-Star between 1993 and 1997, and despite continuing to be one of the top power hitters in baseball in 1998. For the season he collected 200 hits, had 49 home runs, 48 doubles and 152 RBI and won the Silver Slugger Award. Despite finishing 8th in MVP voting, but he did not get selected for the All-Star Game.
12. Johnny Cueto, 2012
Reds hurler Johnny Cueto made his major league debut in 2008 with an outstanding season that continued through the 2009 campaign, despite struggling with consistency. By 2010 he began to consistently deliver quality innings, and by 2011 he had emerged as the ace of the Reds pitching staff and one of the top pitchers in the National League. He won 19 games and posted a 2.78 ERA in 2012, finishing fourth in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award and helping lead the Reds to the NL Central title. But even with those numbers, it wasn’t enough to make him an All-Star.
11. Tim Salmon, 1995
After debuting with the Angels in 1992, Tim Salmon completed his first full season hitting 31 home runs with a .918 OPS, He was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year for 1993 and quickly became a favorite of the Angels’ organization and a household name among the team’s fans. Through the 90’s, he maintained his status as one of the league’s elite power-hitting outfielders. He finished seventh in MVP voting totals for the first time in 1995, when he won a Silver Slugger Award, finished third in the league with a .330 batting average, and posted an OPS above 1.000. That year, he was the first major league player to get a hit off closer for the New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera. He finished seventh again in 1997 when he had a career high 129 RBIs. After playing in fewer than 100 games in 1999, he tied a career high 34 home runs in 2000. From 1993 to 2000 he only had two OPS lines below .900 and he never finished below .860. Despite all these feats, Salmon never made an All-Star squad, even in 1995 when he posted his highest career numbers in nearly every category. Stats at the break: 47 runs, 73 hits, 15 HR, 42 RBI, .291 avg., .952 OPS.
10. Mark Teixeira, 2011
On August 2, 2011, Yankee Mark Teixeira hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game for the 12th time in his career, breaking a three-way tie with Chili Davis and Eddie Murray for the most such games all-time. Teixeira and Curtis Granderson closed out the month becoming the first Yankees teammates to have 30 home runs in 115 games since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. Through 2011, he had the third-best career fielding percentage among major league first basemen, behind Casey Kotchman and Kevin Youkilis, and finished the 2011 campaign year hitting .248 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI. Teixeira had one of the best hitting seasons in baseball in 2011 – but not good enough to make the AL All-Star team cut.
9. Josh Donaldson, 2013
Josh Donaldson helped the A’s into the postseason in 2012, and finished the season with nine home runs, 33 RBIs and a .241 average. In 2013, against Detroit Tigers reliever Brayan Villarreal, Donaldson hit his first career walk-off home run and his first career grand slam on June 7 against Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale. Major League Baseball named Donaldson the American League Player of the Month for September after batting .337 with 20 runs scored, eight doubles, five home runs and 16 RBIs in 25 games. He played 158 games and finished the season with 24 home runs, 93 RBIs and a .301 average and placed fourth in AL MVP voting. Donaldson was hitting at a .319 clip with 15 homers and 58 RBI heading into the All-Star break, but it wasn’t good enough to satisfy the All-Star ballot selectors.
8. Pablo Sandoval, 2009
Coming out of spring training in 2009, Giant slugger Pablo Sandoval made the team’s Opening Day roster as the starting third baseman and backup catcher. He served as a personal catcher for Barry Zito at the beginning of the year and on May 12, and hit his first walk-off home run against Joe Beimel to beat the Washington Nationals 9–7. Sandoval finished the 2009 season with 25 home runs and 90 RBI in 153 games and had the second-highest batting average among NL hitters, at .330 (behind Hanley Ramírez’s .342). He finished seventh in NL MVP voting. He was named a Sprint Final Vote candidate for the 80th annual All-Star Game for the final roster spot on the National League team. He was edged by Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies on the last day of voting. His stats at the break totaled 41 runs, 102 hits, 15 HR, 55 RBI, .333 avg., and a .964 OPS, but didn’t cut it with the voters. Kung Fu Panda was selected for his first All-Star team in 2011.
7. Dan Haren, 2011
2011 was a rebound year for Angel hurler Dan Haren, as he pitched to a 16-11 record with a 3.17 ERA in 35 games (34 starts). He struck out 192 in 238⅓ innings and led the American League with a 5.82 strikeout to walk ratio, while throwing a career high four complete games (three shutouts). But 2011 saw 84 MLB players earn distinction as All-Stars. Among them, numerous American League starting pitchers—Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and James Shields—needed replacements after taking the mound on the final Sunday of the first half. Left from the mix was Haren. He maintained a 2.61 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and .217 BAA at the break. Moreover, the right-hander boasted the best strikeout-to-walk ratio among qualified rotation members while logging the sixth-most innings in the AL. Maybe Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver overshadowed him, or maybe Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers preferred to reward his own players over Haren, a division rival. It must have been a mix of both.
6. Chipper Jones, 1999
Braves slugger Chipper Jones had quite the season in 1999. He was the first player ever to hit over .300 (.319) while slugging 40 or more home runs (45; 3rd in the NL) and doubles (41), drawing 100 or more walks (126; 3rd in the league), notching 100 or more RBI (110) and runs scored (116), and stealing 20 or more bases (25). He was also walked intentionally 18 times; 2nd in the league, and his .633 slugging percentage was 4th best in the NL. Jones’ performance against the Mets played a pivotal role in his MVP selection. While not an All-Star selection, a major factor in his MVP nod was his late-season performance against the Braves’ chief competitors, the New York Mets. The Braves led the NL East by only one game as they entered a three-game September series against the Mets, the team that was right on their heels. Atlanta swept the series at Turner Field, though, largely thanks to Jones, who hit four home runs and drove in seven of the thirteen runs that the Braves scored. For the season, he hit .319 with a .510 on-base percentage, a 1.000 slugging percentage, and seven home runs against the Mets. Jones led the Braves to the World Series against the New York Yankees, in which the Braves were swept. He did, however, hit their only home run in the series, against Yankees’ starter Orlando Hernández. Quite a season – perhaps the rest over the All-Star break helped? After retiring in 2012, Chipper Jones logged seven All-Star appearances (1996, ’97, ’98, 2000, ’01, ’08, ’11). While not making a showing at the mid-summer classic. Jones’ stats at the break: 60 runs, 102 hits, 21 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB, .313 Avg., 1.011 OPS.
5. Paul Konerko, 2004
Paul Konerko will go down as one of the great players in Chicago White Sox history, and in 2004 he hit 41 home runs, had 22 doubles and finished the season with 117 RBI while spending time at first base and designated hitter. Even with those numbers, he was not an All-Star. He followed with a memorable 2005 season, leading the White Sox to their first World Series appearance since 1959. Konerko hit 3 for 4 with three RBI in the third game of the ALCS against the Angels – two of them came from a home run in the first inning. In Game 4, Konerko was 1 for 4 with three RBI on another first inning home run, the second in as many nights. In Game 5, Konerko went 1 for 5 with another RBI and was named the ALCS MVP on the strength of a .268 batting average, two home runs and seven RBI. In Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, Konerko hit the first grand slam in White Sox World Series history to put the White Sox ahead 6–4. It was also the first grand slam in postseason history to give a team the lead when trailing in the seventh inning or later. Those were Konerko’s only RBI of the World Series, but they were critical in giving the White Sox the momentum to complete a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros and they were the most for a White Sox hitter in the series. Konerko caught the final out for every one of the series-clinching games throughout the playoffs. He went on to appear in five All-Star games before retiring in 2014.
4. Jim Edmonds, 2004
Jim Edmonds was a four-time All-Star, first in 1995, then in 2000, ’03, ’05, but the outfield defensive specialist didn’t get the votes in 2004, despite having the numbers. Edmonds’ stats at the break: 52 runs, 79 hits, 21 HR, 56 RBI, .284 avg., .984 OPS. He went on to have his best season. He hit .301, had a .643 slugging percentage, 42 HRs, and 111 RBI; all but batting average were career highs. As a result, he earned a Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove Award, and was fifth in the voting for the Most Valuable Player Award. It also saw a defining moment of his career during the National League Championship Series, in which Edmonds hit an extra-inning home run to win Game 6. In Game 7, Edmonds made a spectacular defensive play in center, helping the Cardinals win the pennant.
3. Frank Thomas, 1991
The Big Hurt was a five-time All-Star from 1993-97, but wasn’t ready in the fan’s eyes in 1991 and didn’t make the trip, despite having the highest OBP and OPS in the AL that year. His stats at the break: 47 runs, 85 hits, 14 HR, 58 RBI, .302 avg., .961 OPS. Thomas had established himself as a multi-talented hitter, combining power with hitting for average, drawing walks, and driving in runs. In 1991, he finished third in MVP voting with a .318 batting average, 32 home runs and 109 runs batted in, as well as walking 138 times. He won the first of four Silver Slugger Awards, and led the league in on-base percentage – something he would accomplish four times during his career.
2. Travis Hafner, 2006
Despite leading the AL in Slugging Percentage and OPS at the All-Star Break in 2006, Travis Hafner has never made a trip to the mid-summer classic. Hafner’s had a stellar first-half and on July 7 he became the first player in Major League history to hit five grand slams before the All-Star break, passing Al Rosen in the team’s season record book when he homered off Kris Benson of the Baltimore Orioles. He joined Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks of the 1955 Chicago Cubs, Jim Gentile of the 1961 Orioles and Don Mattingly of the 1987 Yankees as the only players to hit at least five grand slams in a season. Hafner’s stats at the break in 06: 68 runs, 92 hits, 25 HR, 74 RBI, .322 avg., 1.112 OPS – but no All-Star nod?
1. Jim Thome, 2002
A five-time All-Star (1997, ’98, ’99, 2004, ’06), Cleveland slugger Jim Thome fell short in the voting in 2002 despite posting more than deserving numbers. His stats at the break: 45 runs, 76 hits, 26 HR, 60 RBI, .278 avg., 1.021 OPS. He finished the ‘o2 campaign with his best season as an Indian, leading the AL in walks (122), slugging percentage (.677) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.122), while batting .304 (16th in AL) with a .445 on-base percentage (second in AL). He also hit a career-high 52 home runs (2nd in AL) and collected 118 RBIs (seventh in AL). The 52 home runs set a new Cleveland Indians’ single-season record and made Thome the 21st major league player to join the 50 home run club.
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