- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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There isn't really a point to this post. But does everything need to have an important significance? Of course not. So this popped into my head today: What is the longest All-Star drought at any position for each team? For example, if you go position-by-position for the Angels (including starting pitcher and reliever), the longest drought ends up being first base: Wally Joyner in 1986 was the last Angels All-Star first baseman. I suspect Albert Pujols will end that streak this season.
So let's do that for every team. We'll cover the American League in this post and do the National League on Wednesday. (I didn't include DH because ... well, I just felt like skipping DH.)
Longest All-Star drought: RF -- Ken Singleton (1981)
The Orioles have had some good right fielders, including several who were All-Stars at one point in their careers -- Albert Belle, Eric Davis, Bobby Bonilla (yes, he was the team's regular right fielder in 1996), Dwight Evans -- but you have to go all the way back to the underrated Singleton, a three-time All-Star with the O's. But perhaps the more amazing Orioles All-Star fact: Mike Mussina is the only All-Star starting pitcher the Orioles have produced since Mike Boddicker in 1984.
Longest All-Star drought: SS -- Nomar Garciaparra (2003)
In his six full seasons as Red Sox shortstop (he missed most of 2001 with an injury), Garciaparra was spectacular. He finished eighth, second, seventh, ninth, 11th and seventh in MVP votes, and while he constantly battled injuries the second half of his career, I wonder if a little life was zapped from him when he was traded from Boston. The Red Sox have yet to find a permanent fixture since that trade: Orlando Cabrera to Edgar Renteria to Alex Gonzalez to The Failed Julio Lugo Contract to Nick Green to Marco Scutaro to (apparently) Mike Aviles in 2012.
Longest All-Star drought: LF -- Hideki Matsui (2004)
Not surprisingly, the Yankees didn't have to go back far. That was Matsui's best season -- he played every game and hit .298/.390/.522 with 31 home runs and even hit .412 with 10 RBIs in the ALCS.
Longest All-Star drought: CF -- Randy Winn (2002)
Longest All-Star drought: SS -- Tony Fernandez (1989)
This one is a little tricky because Fernandez represented the Jays in 1999 during his third tour (of four) with the team. But he played third base that season. Back in '89, he was a Gold Glove shortstop who hit .257, which is good enough to back up Cal Ripken. Yunel Escobar has a good chance to end this drought in 2012.
Longest All-Star drought: SS -- Ozzie Guillen (1991)
Guillen's 1991 wasn't exactly one for the record books -- he did hit .273, but it was about as empty as a .273 batting average can be, as his on-base percentage was barely higher (.284) and he had just 26 extra-base hits. Like Escobar, the White Sox do have a strong All-Star candidate in Alexei Ramirez.
Longest All-Star drought: 1B -- Jim Thome (1999)
Thome was one of six Cleveland All-Stars that year, back in a time when it wasn't easy for a first baseman to make the All-Star squad. In 2001, Thome hit .291 with 49 home runs and ranked second in the AL in OPS ... and wasn't an All-Star. In 2002, he hit .304 with 52 home runs and led the AL in OPS ... and wasn't an All-Star. The next season he signed with the Phillies and led the NL in home runs ... and wasn't an All-Star. The 2002 one seemed especially odd to me, so I checked the first-half stats of Thome and the three All-Star first basemen:
Thome: .278/.417/.604, 26 HR, 60 RBI
Jason Giambi, NYY: .333/.449/.601, 19 HR, 63 RBI (voted starter)
Paul Konerko, CHW: .328/.379/.571, 20 HR, 71 RBI (hit just seven HRs in second half)
Mike Sweeney, KC: .331/.406/.594, 14 HR, 52 RBI (Royals rep)
Thome had a monster second half, slugging over .700 plus this was the year five shortstops made the AL squad. Still, hard to believe they couldn't room for him (they did, however, find room for Robert Fick).
Longest All-Star drought: LF -- Steve Kemp (1979)
Now, the great Dmitri Young represented the Tigers in 2003, and he did see time in left field that year, but still played more games at DH, so that takes us back to Kemp. He was terrific that year, hitting .318 with power and walks, but his career was eventually derailed by injuries that included a bone chip in his shoulder and a fractured cheekbone suffering during pregame batting practice. The Tigers have had some interesting left fielders in the years since -- Larry Herndon, Kirk Gibson, Fred Lynn, Lloyd Moseby, Dan Gladden, Tony Phillips, Juan Gonzalez, Bobby Higginson -- but none were All-Stars.
Longest All-Star drought: C -- Darrell Porter (1980)
Porter was a three-time All-Star with the Royals and a top-10 finisher in the MVP voting in 1978 and '79.
Longest All-Star drought: LF -- Gary Ward (1983)
Yes, Twins fans, Cristian Guzman has shortstop covered with his 2001 appearance. Ward was a good story. Originally signed by the Twins in 1972, he spent four years in Triple-A and didn't get a chance to play regularly until 1981, when he was 27. Basically, owner/GM Calvin Griffith had traded away or lost to free agency every player making above the league minimum and played a roster of rookies and young players. Ward finally got his opportunity and stuck around long enough to record over 1,200 hits and make two All-Star teams (one with the Twins, one with the Rangers).
Longest All-Star drought: 1B -- Wally Joyner (1986)
This was when Wally World took the AL by storm as a rookie, hitting with .313 with 20 home runs at the break. He hit only two home runs in the second half, and while he had a long and successful career, he was never much of a power hitter and '86 proved to be his only All-Star appearance.
Longest All-Star drought: 2B -- Phil Garner (1976)
Will Jemile Weeks end the streak some day? By the way, the A's haven't had a position player make the All-Star since catcher Ramon Hernandez in 2003. Most interesting: Eric Chavez was never an All-Star, making Carney Lansford the last A's All-Star third baseman, in 1988.
Longest All-Star drought: LF -- Phil Bradley (1985)
This one will come as no surprise to Mariners fans. From 1990 through 2004, the Mariners had 14 different left fielders in 15 seasons accrue the most at-bats the position, with only Rich Amaral in '95 an '96 appearing twice. And Amaral had fewer than 600 at-bats over those two seasons.
Longest All-Star drought: C -- Ivan Rodriguez (2001)
No, Rod Barajas never made the All-Star team.