By Jason Wojciechowski on July 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM
The A's placed six players on the All-Star team this year, which, according to something I just saw on Twitter, is the most they've had since 1975. None of the choices should be terribly controversial: Josh Donaldson was elected at third base, and Sean Doolittle, Scott Kazmir, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris, and Yoenis Cespedes were chosen as reserves.
Okay, well, actually, I'll grant you that Cespedes may be a little controversial. Just to pick a WAR implementation at random, Cespedes is ninth in the AL in fWAR for outfielders. On the other hand, of the eight players ahead of him (which includes Brandon Moss, who's split between first base and outfield is getting closer to even every day), seven made the team, the exception being Brett Gardner. Cespedes has him beat in slugging, Gardner wins OBP, Cespedes hits in a tougher park, Gardner is probably generally considered a better fielder. It's also, not to get circular about it, a game for stars, a game for promoting the game to casual fans, etc. The lords of the realm can be forgiven for putting in the Cuban who might smash a 500-foot homer over the OBP-'n'-steals Gardner. (Not that I necessarily would make the same choice. There's something to be said for showcasing the variety of ways value is created -- giving Gardner his moment in the sun would be a nice illustration of the cornucopia baseball gives us.)
In any event, compare some of the excellent A's teams of the recent past:
|Year||Win pct||Win pct after 81 games||All Stars (* = starter)|
|2014||.621||.630||Donaldson*, Moss, Norris, Cespedes, Doolittle, Kazmir|
|2003||.593||.568||Hernandez, Mulder*, Zito, Foulke|
|2000||.565||.568||Giambi*, Hudson, Isringhausen|
It's hard to blame the voters, both fans and league personnel / players / etc., for years when the team was under .500 or not much above it, but during that 2000-04 run, when the team was on a 92-win pace after 81 games in four of those five years, they somehow averaged under three All-Stars per season. It's not unconscionable or any other $100 words, it's just ... weird? Disappointing for the players who just went out and won year after year without the classic type of recognition winning teams get for that? I don't know. It's nice to see the streak broken this season, though.
Oh and for what it's worth, as you'll notice, Jeff Samardzija in a sense brings the A's All-Star total to seven, but I'm not really counting that. The decisions were essentially made by the time the trade went down, and certainly the accumulated performance that earned him his spot was done with the Cubs.
Not typos, these 1999-2004 years. Billy Beane sure has a pattern, doesn't he? ↩