Dmitri Young in 2007 was probably the worst--an average offensive first baseman and an embarrassingly bad fielder who in total posted 1.5 wins above replacement for the season, or half what Danny Espinosa's already done this year.
A case could also be made for Cristian Guzman in 2008. He made it because he had a fluky .337 BABIP that put him among the league leaders in hits, but he was a below-average fielder and the 5th best shortstop in his own division that year, behind Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez, and Yunel Escobar.
But Tyler Clippard really might be the weakest Nationals all-star ever, and the shame of it is that the team has played legitimate .500 ball over the first 60% or so of the year and really truly had a couple deserving choices.
I don't mean this as a big knock on Clippard. He's a very, very nice relief pitcher. Jim Bowden deserves almost as much credit as he gives himself for acquiring him in exchange for Jonathan Albaladejo.
Still, the reason he's a relief pitcher is because he wasn't good enough to start. So even though Clippard has been very good out of the bullpen over the last season and a half, and we as Nationals fans love our begoggled vulture, we still kinda gotta admit that he's at least not as good as the 50-60 or so solid starting pitchers in the NL. Wanna say he's one of the ten best relievers in the NL? Fine, I could probably go along with that. But that doesn't qualify for the all-star game.
Just looking at the Nationals roster, does anyone really believe that Clippard is better than Jordan Zimmermann? What would Zimmermann's K:BB rate be if he could go all-out and unload his fastball one inning at a time and benefit from favorable match-ups?
Or consider Espinosa, who has been the best second baseman in the NL not named Rickie Weeks. Both Espinosa or Zimmermann would have been solid choices on the merits, without any one-per-team quota.
(And I know some folks wanna make the case for Mike Morse, and he's clearly had a smoking-hot couple months, but his season is just a bit too fluky to really get too riled up about.)
Even the other starting pitchers, none of whom obviously belong in the All-Star Game either, might have a better case than Clippard. Has Clippard been more valuable in his 51 innings than Livan Hernandez has been in 121? Or John Lannan in 108 or Jason Marquis in 106? Or consider this: what would Clippard's numbers look like if he was asked to throw that many innings?
Anyway, it's nice for Tyler Clippard to get the recognition, but it's too bad that in a season when the Nationals really do have some stars to showcase and a good team story to highlight, that the goofy all-star selection process turned the Nationals once again into a punch-line, this time about the no-name reliever who got the win without retiring a single hitter.