Ken Harvey

The worst All-Stars of all-time

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Even with rosters expanded and more and more players seemingly sitting out the game, there aren’t quite as many bad All-Stars as their used to be, at least not by my research. The list of the worst All-Stars is mostly comprised of old timers, but I’ve squeezed a couple of more recent players in. Here’s an All-Star team of the worst players to make an All-Star team. I’m going by career value here, not necessarily how they performed in their All-Star seasons.

Catcher: Steve Swisher – 1976 – Career WAR: -2.6

Best known now as Nick’s pop, Swisher reached the majors just a year after the White Sox made him a first-round pick and played nine years in the bigs, though he had fewer than 75 at-bats in four of those. He made the All-Star team in his one season of fairly regular play. He went on to hit .236/.275/.326 for the Cubs that year.

First base: Ken Harvey – 2004 – Career WAR: -1.2

Harvey was the Royals’ lone All-Star in his second and final year as a regular. He hit a respectable .287/.338/.421 in 456 at-bats on the season, but since he was a poor defender, he still ended up with a negative WAR. The Royals had him battle big Calvin Pickering for a starting job the following spring. He lost out and ended up getting just 45 more at-bats in the majors.

Second base: Carlos Garcia – 1994 – Career WAR: -0.8

A decent offensive second baseman, Garcia hit .269/.316/.399 as a rookie with the Pirates in 1993. He made the All-Star team in the worst of his four full years with the club, as he hit .277/.309/.367 in 1994. He bounced back to .294/.340/.420 the next year, but his poor glove knocked him out of the league a few years later.

Third base: Ken Reitz – 1980 – Career WAR: -4.2

Reitz was in the lineup for his defense — he won a Gold Glove in 1975 before Mike Schmidt established a stranglehold on the award — but WAR actually says he was below average throughout his career. His All-Star nod came in his last of seven seasons as a regular with the Cardinals, in which he hit .270/.300/.379. That OBP was the highest mark of his career.

Shortstops: Joe DeMastri – 1957 – Career WAR: -4.9

Baseball reference gives DeMastri the worst WAR of any player to make an All-Star team. He did so with the A’s in 1957, when he hit .245/.280/.360 in 461 at-bats. At least DeMastri deserves points for consistency: he had 6-9 homers and 33-40 RBI in all seven of his seasons as a regular.

Left field: Gino Cimoli – 1957 – Career WAR: 0.0

It must have been quite a thrill for Cimoli, in his first full season, to play behind Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in the 1957 All-Star Game. He hit .293/.343/.410 with 10 homers and 57 RBI for the Dodgers as a 27-year-old that season. Baseball-reference WAR credits him with 3.1 wins that season and negative -3.1 wins for the other nine years of his career.

Center Field: Cito Gaston – 1970 – Career WAR: -2.5

For the most part, the other players on this list got their All-Star bids by being on bad teams. Gaston, though, was a very deserving All-Star in 1970, hitting .318/.364/.543 with 29 homers and 93 RBI for the Padres. It was just his second full season and expectations were high. Gaston, though, lost 90 points off his average in 1971 and never bounced all of the way back. He did manage to resurrect his career as a pretty good bench player for the Braves later in the decade, but WAR says he was pretty much always a terrible defender.

Right field: Myril Hoag – 1939 – Career WAR: -4.8

The bad news is that Hoag was traded from the Yankees to the woeful Browns after the 1938 season. The good news was that he got an All-Star appearance out of it. It was his best season, as he hit .295/.329/.421 with 10 homers and 75 RBI.

Starting pitcher: Tyler Green – 1995 – Career WAR: -1.1

Not to be confused with fellow Phillies starter Tommy Greene, Tyler Green was the 10th overall pick in the 1991 draft. As a rookie in 1995, he was a cool 8-4 with a 2.75 ERA after three months, getting him the All-Star spot. He then went 0-5 with a 9.63 ERA the rest of the way, missed the following season with a torn labrum and went 10-16 in his final two seasons.

Reliever: Ed Farmer – 1980 – Career WAR: -0.5

The current White Sox radio broadcaster made the All-Star team on his way to getting 30 saves for the 1980 White Sox. He was hardly dominant, though, finishing with a 3.34 ERA and more walks (56) than strikeouts (54) in 99 2/3 innings out of the pen. Overall, he had a 4.30 ERA in 624 innings.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”