Ranking the 10 Least-Deserving MLB All-Stars of the Last Decade
The idea of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is sound. It's designed to gather the best players in the league in one place, and it mostly succeeds at doing so.
But not always. On occasion, players who have no business being called "All-Stars" end up at the Midsummer Classic. It's our duty as honest, baseball gods-fearing citizens to not forget them.
With the rosters for the 2014 All-Star Game due to be announced Sunday night, there's no time like the present to do a bit of not forgetting by looking back at the 10 least-deserving All-Stars of the last decade (2004-2013).
For the record: No, we're not going to concern ourselves with things like past performances and reputations. We're only targeting players who didn't deserve to be All-Stars based strictly on how they were performing at the time. And the worse the performance, the higher the rank.
10. Scott Rolen, 2011
When the National League needed a third baseman to replace an injured Chipper Jones on the All-Star roster in 2011, it turned to Cincinnati Reds veteran Scott Rolen because...
Well, because he was a warm body who happened to have an All-Star reputation. Rolen didn't have much beyond those two things, anyway.
Beyond playing in only 62 first-half games in 2011, Rolen was also hitting just .241/.276/.398. That .276 on-base percentage marks the lowest first-half OBP of any All-Star position player in the last decade.
Rolen also didn't fare so well by Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), a metric that quantifies a player's total offensive value in relation to league average (100). Rolen's first-half wRC+ in 2011 checked out to 81. That means he wasn't just below average offensively—he was way below average offensively.
Of the seven All-Star berths Rolen earned in his career, his nomination in 2011 is the one that stretches the limits of the word "earned" the most.
9. Kevin Correia, 2011
Before 2011, Kevin Correia was a merchant of "meh." Across 235 appearances, he posted a 4.57 ERA that was only slightly worse than a 4.47 FIP.
But then Correia won 11 games in the first half of 2011 in the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation and made it onto the National League All-Star squad as a replacement for Cole Hamels.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel, this was thanks in part to Correia being one of the leading vote-getters on the players' ballot. When they looked at his 11 wins, his fellow players saw a breakout star.
That's not actually what Correia was, though. Per his other numbers, he was still very much a merchant of "meh."
Among those, Correia owned a 4.05 ERA that was above the NL average ERA by 20 points. His 4.18 FIP was even worse, and he also owned a 0.8 fWAR that placed him among the NL's least effective starters.
Moral of the story: Wins must die.
8. Brian Fuentes, 2007
If you're a closer who wants to make the All-Star Game, it's not complicated. Just save 20 games in the first half, and your other numbers basically won't matter.
Just travel back in time and ask Brian Fuentes.
In 2007, the then-Colorado Rockies lefty racked up exactly 20 first-half saves, which was good for fifth among NL relievers. But to go with those 20 saves, he also had a 4.06 ERA that probably should have been even worse.
That's the opinion of Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which determines what a pitcher's ERA should be based mainly on strikeouts, walks and homers. Fuentes had a 5.02 FIP to go with his 4.06 ERA. And as if that didn't look bad enough already, it's also the worst FIP of any All-Star reliever in the last decade.
But the best part? That would be that Fuentes was actually demoted as Colorado's closer before the All-Star Game. The second-best part is that he didn't save another game all year.
7. Derrick Turnbow, 2006
Former Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Derrick Turnbow had a fantastic year in 2005, saving 39 games with a 1.74 ERA. That's an All-Star-worthy season if there ever was one.
But Turnbow made his one and only All-Star appearance the next year in 2006, which, as you've probably already guessed, was anything but an All-Star-worthy season.
Turnbow did rack up 23 saves before the break in '06, but he did so with a 4.74 ERA. Look at that and behold the worst first-half ERA of any All-Star reliever in the last decade.
And Turnbow seemed to like feeding it. He walked 5.21 batters for every nine innings he pitched in the first half of '06, and only 64.1 percent of the runners he put on base stayed on base.
Moral of this story: Like wins, saves must die.
6. Esteban Loaiza, 2004
Esteban Loaiza had an outstanding season in 2003. He won 21 games, posted a 2.90 ERA, led the American League with 207 strikeouts and finished second in the Cy Young voting.
It all fell apart in 2004. Big time. The then-Chicago White Sox righty struggled to the tune of a 4.77 ERA and equally bad 4.74 FIP in the first half.
His peers apparently weren't paying attention, as Loaiza was selected for the AL All-Star squad anyway. After everything came together, his ERA and FIP were easily the worst of any All-Star starting pitcher that year.
Apparently, even the man himself was shocked that he made it.
"I actually told [White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen], 'How did I do that?'" Loaiza told MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "And he said, 'Well, I don't know. That's what I told them.'
I'll just throw this out there: It's probably not a good sign when a guy reacts to the news that he's an All-Star by asking, "How did I do that?"
5. Yadier Molina, 2010
Early in his career, baseball fans got to know the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina as a superb defensive catcher who couldn't hit a lick. But then he hit .292 between 2007 and 2009, thus hitting a lick.
Evidently, a lot of fans took this as their cue to stop paying attention to Molina's numbers in 2010. It's the only way to explain how he managed to be voted in as the National League's starting catcher.
Molina basically went back to not hitting a lick, batting just .223/.301/.294 in the first half of 2010. That .294 slugging percentage is the worst mark of any All-Star position player in the last 10 years, and Molina's total offense value was summed up in a 65 wRC+.
And that, also, is the worst of any All-Star position player in the last 10 years.
Hey, at least Molina still had his superb defense. But even knowing that, maybe as many as a dozen NL catchers could have been picked over him to start in the All-Star Game.
4. Cesar Izturis, 2005
Cesar Izturis was definitely playing like an All-Star early in 2005, batting .345 with 77 hits through June 1.
But then he stopped hitting, batting just .085 to finish out June. Oh, and he also wrapped up the month by, per Baseball Prospectus, landing on the disabled list with a thigh strain.
These things should have killed the then-Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop's All-Star hopes, but nope. Despite a .275 average and a 77 wRC+, Izturis still made the cut for the NL squad.
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Jeff Sanders said it well:
Hard to figure this one: Izturis was hitting .275 with 1 homer, 20 RBIs and five steals when he joined Jeff Kent as the Dodgers’ second All-Star. Did the NL really need four shortstops on the roster behind starter David Eckstein, Jimmy Rollins and Felipe Lopez. If so, why not go with the Braves’ Rafael Furcal that year?
That's a good question. Furcal was only hitting .254, but at least he had 29 steals, seven homers and was playing a mean shortstop.
I guess we'll never know.
3. Josh Hamilton, 2009
If it's fair to include Home Run Derby heroics in the discussion, Josh Hamilton authored one of the greatest All-Star performances ever in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. Seriously, that was insane.
Come the first half of 2009, fans made sure to thank Hamilton by voting him in as one of the American League's starting outfielders.
This despite the fact the then-Texas Rangers star was going through a downright brutal season.
There's the fact that injuries limited Hamilton to just 42 games played, for one. That's the second-fewest games played by any All-Star position player in the last decade, bested only by Matt Kemp's 36 games in 2012.
But at least Kemp was hitting that year. Hamilton wasn't in the first half of 2009, as he went into the All-Star Game batting just .243/.298/.428 with a 79 wRC+.
Such is the power of dingers. If you hit enough of them and hit them far to boot, people might still be oohing and aahing a year later.
2. Jason Varitek, 2008
There was a time in the early-to-mid-2000s when Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was a really good player. He was one of the best hitting catchers in the American League and a solid defender to boot.
By 2008, however, his time was pretty clearly in the past. Varitek began the season batting just .218/.299/.354 in the first half, putting him on track for his worst season ever.
Yet somehow, he made his way onto the American League All-Star roster as a reserve. It looked sketchy at the time, and it now looks even worse in retrospect.
The .218 average Varitek took into the 2008 All-Star Game is second worst among All-Star position players in the last 10 years. He's also one of only four to bring a sub-.300 OBP into the game as well.
In addition, the 70 wRC+ Varitek had is second worst behind only Yadier Molina's 65 in 2010. But where Molina could at least lay claim to being baseball's best defensive catcher, Varitek could do no such thing.
1. Mark Redman, 2006
After a couple of rough years in a row in 2004 and 2005, Mark Redman found himself in the middle of yet another poor one in 2006 with the Kansas City Royals.
The veteran lefty pitched to a 5.27 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 32 and walking 32 in exactly 82 innings in the first half of '06. By ERA, he was one of the 10 worst starters in the American League.
But somebody had to represent the Royals at the All-Star Game, darn it. That turned out to be Redman, who, not unlike Esteban Loaiza in 2004, seemed surprised by the decision.
"I think anyone would be surprised with getting picked," Redman told MLB.com's Kevin Druley. "Pitchers aren't really voted in, I don't think. It was an honor."
Granted, the Royals were a pretty terrible team in 2006. They didn't have too many good players to choose fro...
Well, actually, Esteban German was hitting .341...And David DeJesus was hitting .310...And Mark Grudzielanek was hitting .291...
So yeah. I've got nothing.