Thursday, March 14, 2013
Longest positional All-Star droughts: NL
By David Schoenfield
In our previous post we looked at the longest All-Star positional drought for each American League team. The longest: Oakland second base, where Phil Garner in 1976 was the last All-Star.
Let's move on to the National League ... where we have to go all the back to 1969 for one club. (Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for making this little task manageable!)
National League East
Atlanta Braves: LF (Ron Gant, 1992). The Braves have had 75 All-Star selections since 1992, but none by a left fielder (Chipper Jones wasn't selected the two years he played out there). Maybe Justin Upton ends the streak this year.
Miami Marlins: CF (none). In 20 seasons, the Marlins have had 39 All-Stars, just under two per season on average. None were center fielders. Preston Wilson has played the most games out there, Juan Pierre and Devon White were the center fielders on their two World Series winners, but they've had six different regulars in the past seven seasons, none of them All-Star candidates.
New York Mets: LF (Cleon Jones, 1969). The Mets also have to go back to Keith Hernandez in 1987 for first base. But 43 years without an All-Star left fielder? Yes, and not really many good choices. They've had just four 4+ WAR seasons: Bernard Gilkey (7.8 in 1996), Cliff Floyd (4.4 in 2005), Jones (4.4 in 1971) and Kevin McReynolds (4.2 in 1988). McReynolds has the most career WAR as a Mets left fielder, 14.3, so it's mostly been a revolving door of players, some good, some mediocre and one Vince Coleman.
Philadelphia Phillies: SS (Jimmy Rollins, 2005). Rollins didn't even make the All-Star team the year he won the MVP Award in 2007.
Washington Nationals: C (Darrin Fletcher, 1994). Ahh, 1994, the year that wasn't.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: 2B (Ryne Sandberg, 1993). The starters at second since Sandberg retired after 1997: Mickey Morandini (two years), Eric Young (two years), Mark Bellhorn (one year), Mark Grudzielanek (one year), Todd Walker (two years), Neifi Perez (one year, yuck), Mark DeRosa (two years), Mike Fontenot (one year), Ryan Theriot (one year), Darwin Barney (two years). Mostly short-term veterans, but some decent seasons in there. Barney should keep the job for several years thanks to his defense, but is an unlikely All-Star.
Cincinnati Reds: C (Bo Diaz, 1987). Sadly, we didn't quite make it all the way back to Johnny Bench.
Milwaukee Brewers: 3B (Jeff Cirillo, 1997). Since Cirillo departed after 1999, the Brewers have had an interesting group of hot corner guys: Tyler Houston, Wes Helms, Russell Branyan, Corey Koskie, Ryan Braun (wisely moved to left field before he hurt himself at third base), Bill Hall, Casey McGehee and Aramis Ramirez.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 1B (Jason Thompson, 1982). Thompson made his first All-Star appearance with the Tigers in 1977 at age 22. In 1982, he was 27 and hit .284 with 31 home runs, 101 RBIs and 101 walks. And then? That was kind of it. He kept his eye at the plate (84 walks and 58 strikeouts in 1985), but his power and average diminished, and after hitting .196 in 30 games with the Expos in '86 he was done. Not sure what happened there. Anyway, yes, Pirates first basemen since 1982. Not an impressive lot. There were the Sid Bream years, the Orlando Merced years, slow Brian Hunter for a season, somebody named Mark Johnson who wasn't the catcher and I have no recollection of but started for two seasons, the three-years-too-long Kevin Young period, Daryle Ward, Sean Casey, Adam LaRoche, Garrett Jones, Lyle Overbay and, last year, Casey McGehee (oddly, earning his second mention in as many paragraphs). Baseball-Reference rates just two seasons since 1982 at 3+ WAR: Young's 5.3 in 1999 (.298/.387/.522) and Jeff King's 3.0 in 1996 (when he actually only started 76 games at first base). This is another piece altogether, but I wonder if this has collectively been the worst position in the majors over the past 30 years.
St. Louis Cardinals: 2B (Tom Herr, 1985). This is a fun one because you wouldn't expect a consistently excellent organization like St. Louis to have a dead spot. Geronimo Pena, where have you gone?
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: SS (none). Best season by WAR: Stephen Drew's 3.7 in 2010. Will Didi Gregorius break down the door?
Colorado Rockies: C (none). The Rockies have been around since 1993, so this is starting to be a sizable dry spell. Wilin Rosario hit 28 home runs as a rookie last year, so he has a good chance to become the first All-Star Rockies catcher.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3B (Pedro Guerrero, 1983). Guerrero wasn't really a third baseman, but Tommy Lasorda played him there for two seasons before he finally tired of the experiment. Anyway, Luis Cruz is sort of symbolic of the Dodgers' revolving door here. Other than the Adrian Beltre years (oddly, he didn't make the All-Star team the year he hit 48 home runs and finished second in the NL MVP vote), it's been guys like Blake DeWitt and Casey Blake and Wilson Betemit and Oscar Robles and Mike Blowers and Tim Wallach and Mickey Hatcher even played there for a year. (Beltre, FYI, was hitting .315 with 22 home runs at the break in 2004. Scott Rolen was the starter and Mike Lowell the only backup. But Lowell was hitting .305 with 20 home runs, so wasn't a bad selection.)
San Diego Padres: C and SS (Benito Santiago and Tony Fernandez, 1992). Neither were really that good that year. Santiago had a .287 OBP and was worth 1.1 WAR. Fernandez slugged .359, had 20 steals and 20 caught stealing, and was worth 1.0 WAR. The Padres have only four shortstop seasons since '92 that rank above 1.5 WAR: Three by Khalil Greene and one by Damian Jackson. Everth Cabrera, beware the curse.
San Francisco Giants: CF (Chili Davis, 1984). The great thing here is Davis is both the last center fielder and right fielder (1986) to make the All-Star team for the Giants. Davis is the only Giants center field All-Star since Willie Mays in 1971. Luckily, they had a pretty good left fielder for a spell.