January 4, 2011
With the yearly announcement of the MLB All-Star Game rosters, so too comes the inevitable controversy that always follows the selections. Who was snubbed? Who just missed the cut? And who surprised everyone by actually making the team, seemingly for reasons unknown?
This yearly debate is as much a part of summer as barbecues and fireworks, so the time has come to take a look at the Top-Ten Worst MLB All-Stars (limited to picks after 1970, when fans were allowed to vote again), ranging from Cal Ripken to Varitek to Mike Williams.
Before you get upset, yes, obviously Cal Ripken was a great player -- one of the best. But this is identifying the worst All-Star selections in individual seasons, and in 2001, Ripken was not good. The Iron Man finished that year hitting just .239 with a .276 on-base percentage, both career lows. Clearly, this was a sentimental selection, but it does not excuse the pick -- he was hitting just .240 with 4 HR and an OPS+ of 56 at the time of the All-Star Game. To his credit though, Ripken gave the fans what they wanted, starting the game at shortstop and hitting his second career All-Star Game home run.
While Ripken was able to justify his selection with his play on the field, the same could not be said for Jason Varitek, who caught just two innings last year at Yankee Stadium, and never got the chance to bat. The Red Sox catcher ended the first half of the season hitting just .218, and had more strikeouts (73) than hits (56). Varitek was selected to the team by other players, something that slightly embarrassed him, even though he says, "Cut out the last three weeks and I'd be OK." Not quite. 'Tek was just 15-for-113 with 38 strikeouts since May 21, and for the month of June, his batting average was an embarrassingly low .122 (just 9 hits in 83 plate appearances).
But amazingly, there has been an even worst All-Star: Mike Williams, a one-time reliever for the Pirates. Williams made his second career All-Star team in 2003, despite a 1-3 mark and a 6.44 ERA during the first half of the year. True, he had 25 saves in 39 appearances, but he also allowed 41 hits and 22 walks in only 36.1 innings pitched, while recording just 19 strikeouts. Williams ended the 2003 season with a 1-7 mark and a 6.14 ERA to go along with 28 saves. But perhaps his most telling statistic was this: Williams never pitched in another major league baseball game after the 2003 season.
Last year, it was Red Sox' catcher Varitek, and his .218 batting average. This year, one could question the inclusion of the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who has appeared in just 35 games, and hit only 6 home runs. One thing is for certain: the list of Top 10 Worst MLB All-Stars is one that will always see new additions.