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.

MLBPA thinks all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration

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There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.

If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:

  • In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
  • Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
  • If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.

In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.

There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.

The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!