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February 14, 2013 5:00 am

In A Pickle: Not All Stars Are All-Stars


Jason Wojciechowski

The most underappreciated players ever, by one worthwhile measure.

It's February, so perhaps it's not timely to write about the All-Star Game, but blame Sam Miller, who raised on Effectively Wild a few weeks ago the Sandy Alomar Conundrum: specifically, how did such a mediocre player manage to appear in six All-Star Games?

You know well that the selection of All-Star rosters is weird and fouled up in all sorts of ways. The popularity-contest aspect has been around as long as fan voting has, and even before that was the method du jour, you might still expect that fame played an important role because the Game had to sell tickets. Managers leaning toward their own players for reserve roles is an entirely understandable decision ("Coach, why'd you take Smith over me?") and yet one that doesn't necessarily result in the best possible roster. Starting pitchers are now routinely passed over if their spot in their real team's rotation interferes with their ability to pitch in the Game itself. Relief pitchers not named Mariano Rivera populate the rosters in a weird homage to the idea of relievers as uniquely special and valuable players rather than simply failed starters. Good measures of total player value tend to be ignored come All-Star time in favor of raw offensive stats and good players sometimes get shafted because some random hamster had a great first half that he'll never ever repeat in his life.

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February 2, 2012 9:00 am

Overthinking It: The Overlooked Overlooked Hall of Famers


Ben Lindbergh

Why have two of the top 30 position players since 1950 been ignored by BBWAA voters and bloggers alike?

The last thing I want to do is create another Bert Blyleven.

I don’t mean Blyleven the pitcher or Blyleven the person. The world could probably use more of those. I’m talking about Blyleven the Overlooked Hall of Fame Candidate. Don’t get me wrong—I’m glad Blyleven is in the Hall of Fame. He deserves to be. His induction was a triumph of critical thinking over snap judgments, of evidence over empty arguments, of the hard work and research of writers like Jay Jaffe and Rich Lederer over the bluster and baseless self-assurance of others in the mainstream—an infinitesimal triumph, in the grand scheme of things, but a triumph nonetheless.

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While Willie Hernandez's 1984 season was awe-inspiring, and deserves to be placed on a pedestal somewhere, I don't think it is the greatest single season by a lefty closer. Consider Billy Wagner's 1999 numbers:

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