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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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