Tuesday, June 17, 2008

All-Stars (or lack thereof)

The All-Star Game is a flawed exercise, no doubt. Fan balloting, the over-emphasis on first-half performance, (un)popularity of certain players in the game, and a whole host of other factors skew the results away from the real "best" players on the game.

But no aspect of the AS selection process produces more undeserving selections than the silly rule that every team will get one all-star, no matter how bad they are. And few GMs have seen more of their players go to the mid-summer classic through this cheap back-door pass than Bowden.

Here's a recap of the players on Bowden teams that have gone to the AS Game over the last 16 years. Note how many of them are marginal or flat-out undeserving choices. (All stats noted are first-half stats from that season.)

2008: whether it's Jon Rauch or Cristian Guzman, neither will likely be deserving, in that neither would make it if not for the rule requiring one guy from each team. At SS, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are clearly the top two in the NL, and you could make a strong case for Rafael Furcal, despite his injury, and Jimmy Rollins, the reigning MVP ought to get strong consideration, despite a sub-par and injury-marred first half. Among closers, Brad Lidge, Kerry Wood, Brandon Lyon, and Franciso Cordero all belong before Rauch, and probably Solomon Torres too.

2007: Dmitri Young--clearly not deserving. They had to take 4 1Bs to fit him in (D. Lee, Pujols, and Fielder), and there were at least 2-3 others more deserving (Berkman, A. Gonzalez, R. Howard)

2006: Alfonso Soriano--clearly deserving, started

2005: Livan Hernandez, Chad Cordero--by definition, if the team had more than 1, they were deserving, but both of these were inherited

2003: Aaron Boone (pre-AS break line: .261 AVG-.326 OBP-.456 SLG)--a Bowden acquisition, but the only Reds pick that year and clearly not deserving. They had to take 3 3Bs to fit him in (Lowell and Rolen), and arguably 3 others were better--Aramis Ramirez (.277-.328-.441), Shea Hillenbrand (.316-.351-.517); Morgan Ensberg (.312-.418-.613)

2002: Adam Dunn--the only pick, but deserving (.300-.452-.544, 17 HR) and a Bowden pick.

2001: Sean Casey was the only pick and a Bowden guy, but probably less deserving (.329-.387-.505; 10 HR) than Jeff Bagwell (.269-.382-.523; 21 HR; finished 7th in the MVP voting that year and in 2000).

2000: Danny Graves, Ken Griffey, Barry Larkin, 2 of the 3 Bowden guys

1999: Larkin, S. Casey, Scott Williamson, 2 of the 3 Bowden guys

1998: Bret Boone (.285-.331-.463) was the only pick and a Bowden guy, but less deserving than Jeff Kent (.301-.355-.492; 9th in MVP voting). Fernando Vina (.305-.376-.419) was the 3rd 2B taken and was also clearly an undeserving pick as the only Brewers choice.

1997: Larkin--deserving but not a Bowden guy

1996: Larkin--deserving but not a Bowden guy

1995: Ron Gant, Larkin, John Smiley, Reggie Sanders--all deserving, Smiley and Gant Bowden acquisitions

1994: Larkin, Jose Rijo--deserving but neither Bowden acquisitions

1993: Roberto Kelly, Larkin--deserving, Kelly a Bowden acquisition, though in the Paul O'Neill trade, generally considered his worst ever.

1992: Norm Charlton, Bip Roberts--neither Bowden acquisitions

So to sum up, in 16 years, he's had 5 teams with zero deserving all-stars. In 5 other years there were deserving all-stars, but they were inherited from prior GMs. Therefore in only 6 years of 16 has he had at least one deserving AS that he acquired, a total of 9 players.

Interestingly, only Griffey of these 9 has had more than one "deserving" appearance for Bowden (some, like Soriano, had other appearances with other teams after Bowden got rid of them, but none of these 9 made it more than once for a Bowden team).

I don't have a direct comparison to how other GMs have done, but this seems well below average and certainly not good enough to assemble a winner. And given that it's hard to imagine who in the Washington organization now might become a true all-star anytime in the next year or 2, this record could go on for some time.

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