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Not the best 2-2 series split in recent memory. Let's just leave it at that and move on.

Instead, I will channel David Letterman for a moment here:

"Folks, are you like me? Are you watching this, uh, this baseball, wondering which of them All-Stars are the least-deserving of that title, aside from Buddy Biancalana? Mark Redman is one of them, and you may not know this, but he will actually be pitching to Method Man. You know, maybe he does deserve to be an All-Star, because it's just -- it's just too hot for words in Kansas City. Speaking of which, it was so hot in New York yesterday, I saw a squirrel in Central Park -- this is true, I saw a squirrel in the park, and he was trying to cool off his nuts."

Now, if you can tear yourselves away from the forced laughter of Paul Shaffer, I took a look at every team under .400 at the All-Star Break since 2000. Since voting doesn't take the second half of the season into account, I didn't either. Only those teams with a lone All-Star were considered; the 2001 Texas Rangers were pretty bad, but they had two Rodriguezes on the team (and both were voted in as starters by the fans). I was looking for the token one-player-per-team player, so to speak.

There were 22 results, most of them Royals. Let's take a look at a Magpie Table. Rondell White switched teams in mid-season; his total statistics are shown. Other than that, the columns should be self-explanatory:

First, the hitters:
Player	        Team	Year	GS	AVG	OBP	SLG	RC/27	Ranks That Year 
M. Sweeney KCR 2002 126 .340 .417 .563 8.89 AVG-2, OBP-4, SLG-7
B. Giles PIT 2001 160 .309 .404 .590 8.85 OBP-10, SLG-10, R-10, 3B-8
Ichiro SEA 2004 161 .372 .414 .455 7.68 AVG-1, OBP-2, H-1, SB-2
M. Sweeney KCR 2001 147 .304 .374 .542 7.47 SLG-10, 2B-2
D. Young DET 2003 155 .297 .372 .537 7.14 3B-10
M. Sweeney KCR 2005 122 .300 .347 .517 6.44
F. Lopez CIN 2005 148 .291 .352 .486 6.19
S. Casey CIN 2001 145 .310 .369 .458 6.12
F. McGriff TBD 2000 158 .277 .373 .452 6.06
R. Winn TBD 2002 152 .298 .360 .461 6.01 2B-8, 3B-2, SB-7
R. White SDP 2003 137 .289 .341 .488 5.78
K. Harvey KCR 2004 120 .287 .338 .421 4.97
R. Fick DET 2002 148 .270 .331 .433 4.91
G. Vaughn TBD 2001 136 .233 .333 .433 4.78
The bad teams that sent just one player combined to send a hitter that scores, on average, six and a half runs per game! In case you're wondering, the AL and NL averages in that time period range from 5.30 (2000 AL) to 4.45 (2005 NL).

Now, I know what you're thinking. All-Stars, Royals though they may be, are still All-Stars. Wouldn't they be better than regular players anyway?

Glad you asked. Let's look at the 2005 AL. 4.76 runs were scored per game in the American League last year, and the All-Stars combined for a (raw) average of...what, exactly?

Player	       RC/27 
A. Rodriguez 9.53
D. Ortiz 8.90
V. Guerrero 8.14
M. Ramirez 8.14
M. Texeira 7.85
M. Young 7.55
B. Roberts 7.38
P. Konerko 7.24
G. Sheffield 7.00

M. Tejada 6.46
M. Sweeney 6.44
J. Varitek 6.44
M. Mora 5.71
Ichiro! 5.63
A. Soriano 5.58
J. Damon 5.51
S. Hillenbrand 5.21
G. Anderson 4.89
I. Rodriguez 4.44
S. Podsednik 4.17

In other words, the difference between an All-Star team and the Bad All-Stars is negligible. So my initial surprise at so many good hitters showing up as the lone representatives was replaced with the surprise of learning that the "Bad" ones are just as good as the "rest" of them.

Pudge wasn't very good last year, so why wasn't he on the list of Bad All-Stars? The Tigers were 42-44 at the break -- hardly .400 material. Yes, he was the only Tiger to go last year, but looking through 30 teams times 2 leagues times 5 years in search of the Lone Stars takes a lot more time than checking one standings page five times.

The 2005 starters, by the way combined for a full run more per game; about 7.5. Who said the fans vote for undeserving players?

Now, we've established that the token players who are hitters generally don't suck. Sure, you've got Greg Vaughn and Ken Harvey in there, but also Brian Giles, Ichiro!, Mike Sweeney, Mike Sweeney and Mike Sweeney.

Here are the pitchers:
Player	       Team	Year	 IP	 ERA	WHIP	ERA+ 
R. Johnson ARI 2004 245.7 2.60 0.90 171
R. Halladay TOR 2002 239.3 2.93 1.19 152
L. Carter TBD 2003 80.3 3.47 1.24 128
L. Hernandez MON 2004 255.0 3.60 1.24 115
B. Fuentes COL 2005 74.3 2.91 1.25 163
D. Baez TBD 2005 72.3 2.86 1.33 151
B. Sheets MIL 2001 151.3 4.76 1.41 93
S. Reynolds HOU 2000 131.0 5.22 1.49 94
That's not too bad. Back-to-back Cy Young Award winners, un cyborg des Expos and a pretty good reliever. The only eyebrow-raisers there are Reynolds and the Devil Rays' closers. (2001 was Ben Sheets' first year in the majors.) In fact, let's just take a look at Tampa Bay's All-Stars every year since they became a franchise:

1998: Arrojo
1999: Canseco, Hernandez
2000: McGriff
2001: Vaughn
2002: Winn
2003: Carter
2004: Crawford
2005: Baez

No wonder we think of this team as one without pitching. Carl Crawford and Fred McGriff vs. Roberto Hernandez and Rolando Arrojo?

And yes, I was shocked to see two All-Stars in 1999. That was because Hernandez finished with 43 saves and Jose Canseco "slugged" his way to 34 homers and a .279/.369/.563 line. If it makes you feel better, Canseco didn't play in the All-Star Game that year and Hernandez had to pitch to Ed Sprague.

Because, you know, you can't have an All-Star Game without Ed Sprague.

So all of this brings us to 2006. The lone All-Stars this year are Scott Kazmir, Miguel Tejada, Grady Sizemore, Mark Redman, Vladimir Guerrero, Barry Zito, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Webb, Jason Schmidt and Trevor Hoffman.

Wait, what?

In six years, we had 22 "Lone Stars" and there are 12 in 2006 alone? What's going on here?

The answer is perhaps obvious: seven White Sox, six Mets, five Blue Jays, four Yankees and four Red Sox -- six teams combine for (essentially) an entire roster. Hands up if you thought the Jays would have more All-Stars than either of the Red Sox or Yankees. Yeah, yeah, put your hands down; you're all lying.

So how good are these Lone Stars? I'll just look at the hitters (stats through Saturday's games).
G. Sizemore  7.51
A. Soriano 6.69
V. Guerrero 6.11
M. Tejada 5.81
Six and a half runs again, eh? What a surprise.

Finally, you might recall that I said something at the end of my report on the Mets series. Amazingly, it still applies now (who could have seen this coming?!), so I'll repeat myself:

So where are the Jays now? Pretty much where they've been all year. Four (or so) games behind the Red Sox, two (or so) behind the Yankees. The non-Doc pitching still leaves a lot to be desired and B.J. Ryan is still kicking ass. I'll see you in two weeks, when things will be the same.
Jays vs. Royals: Show Me The Lone Stars | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Original Ryan - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#150463) #
I just spotted the starting lineups for tomorrow on the newswire.  Vernon Wells is taking the place of Manny Ramirez.  He'll be in centre and batting seventh.  Congrats Vernon!
Mike Green - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#150466) #
Edgar Renteria batting fifth and David Wright batting sixth for the NLers?  When you're overmatched to begin with, it doesn't help when the Manager can't make the simplest lineup decision.
Mike D - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#150469) #
I encourage everyone to try the MLB trivia quiz that just went up on the site.  I got 39/50, althought I'm sure some Bauxites can beat that.
Craig B - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 12:28 PM EDT (#150470) #
41/50 for me, there were some toughies on there!  I'm sure there are several here who will beat that.
Adrock - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#150472) #

38/50, with one correct answer changed to incorrect.  Argh!

Kudos to Kevin Mench who had the highest score among the players with 40/50.  Gary Gilette of put up 45/50 which was the score to beat.  Keith Law also did fairly well, but I can't remember his score.

Pistol - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#150473) #

I got '503 Service Unavailable'

Beat that!

costanza - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#150474) #
Edgar Renteria batting fifth and David Wright batting sixth for the NLers? When you're overmatched to begin with, it doesn't help when the Manager can't make the simplest lineup decision.

But it does help when the "fan vote" doesn't put the guy who's arguably your opposition's best pitcher on the team. 

I don't think it's Chisox fans who put Podsednik and AJ on the team the past two years... I think it's sneaky NL fans doing that!
Original Ryan - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 01:48 PM EDT (#150476) #
I had to re-load the page a few times in order to get my results.  When I finally got them, I discovered I only scored a 29/50.  I think I was happier with just the error message.
Mike Green - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#150477) #
33, and none too proud of it.  I guess BB is going to have run a series of "summer school" trivia challenges to help us laggards.
Magpie - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#150478) #
I also scored 41 of 50 - I missed three of the last six, which is the modern era. I suppose that suggests that I'm not paying attention. Or, like many...uh, middle-aged? men, I'm living in the past...

And while my admiration for Vin Scully really knows no bounds, am I supposed to know where he went to school?

Jordan - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#150480) #
35/50, and happy to have scored that well. Old-time baseball knowledge is not my forte.
Dave Till - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#150482) #

Actually, I'm more interested in where Vin Scully went to school than how many championships the New York Yankees have won. Question 50 should have had "Too many" as option f).

hugo - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#150485) #

I managed 37, ("thirty-seven?!!!!") but I got lucky on some guesses.  A lot of these questions were flat-out hard.  I would say I only really knew about half of them (one of them, proudly brandishing my  NY upbringing, where Vin Scully went to school.)

my knowledge of movie quotes, on the other hand (as evidenced by my above reference) is spectacular

Rob - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#150487) #
32/50. I, too, failed to name Vin Scully's alma mater. To be fair, though, he couldn't name mine.
Paul D - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#150489) #
Not sure if this has been discussed anywhere, but according to Studes at THBT, Marcum is moving into the rotation after the break.
Thomas - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#150490) #
38/50, including correctly guessing Vin Scully's alma matter.
Mike Green - Monday, July 10 2006 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#150491) #
Here's the link for the Marcum for Taubenheim switch. I know all the mantras- "young pitchers will break your heart", "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect", but I am pleased as punch.  The second half cannot start too soon.
Mike Green - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#150503) #
Chris Dial at BTF has done some fine work on measuring defence.  His 2006 mid-year numbers are interesting. For the home nine, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios have been excellent defensively, while Russ Adams and Shea Hillenbrand have been very poor (Hillenbrand historically so).  In the result, the team defence is average.  These results are roughly consistent with THT's measurements of the team flyball and groundball defence.

The other interesting item is the apparent defensive decline of Adam Kennedy, both in Dial's numbers and in the comment of veteran LAA watcher "Anaheim Rallymonkey of Maryland".

Mike Green - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 09:57 AM EDT (#150505) #
Dial's numbers also have Hill has a fine defender.
Geoff - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#150507) #
Hands up if you thought the Jays would have more All-Stars than either of the Red Sox or Yankees. Yeah, yeah, put your hands down; you're all lying.

I'll raise my hand.

From June 26:
Is it reasonable to think that five Jays will make it? Or will four Yankees and four Red Sox players get voted in, making it impossible to have the All-star game so dominated by the AL East.
I didn't think it would be allowed, but I expected the merit was there.
Christopher - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#150508) #
Would something like this actually affect Well's decision to sign here? Riccardi did say he regretted it.

If Wells doesn't sign because of Ricciardi's comments, then I doubt he had any intention of doing so anyways.  I have no problem with either Ricciardi's or Wells' comments.  I think Roy had the best take on it though:

"I think guys are starting to realize it has to be about winning here," ace Roy Halladay said. "It's not, 'we're 10 games over .500, a five-game improvement over last year,' it has to be about winning. I'm sure (New York Yankees owner George) Steinbrenner has done some things at times to get his team going, that's just part of a team that wants to win."
-source Toronto Sun
Ryan Day - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#150509) #

The body language said he wants to return home to Arlington to play with the Texas Rangers and his good friend from the minors, Michael Young.

  Vernon's body is very articulate. Was he turning Southwest and signing Young's name as he said it?

Jdog - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#150510) #

For sometime Vernon seemed destinged to flee the coup for the Texas Rangers. There were many reasons people assumed Texas would be the place he ended up, however one of the main reasons was that the Rangers were hurting for a decent centerfielder. But with the emergence of Gary Matthews Jr. in cf, i can't see them spending big money on Vernon, they still need Pitching with a capital P.

js_magloire - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#150512) #
Then it is Gary Mathew Jr. and the rest of the Rangers Outfield I will desperately cheer for and their success. Is Sarge's son playable in RF or LF? We must pray they have no outfield or DH needs in the next few years.
Original Ryan - Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 11:37 AM EDT (#150514) #
Is Sarge's son playable in RF or LF?

Sarge Jr. was the one in right field for the Orioles when Ken Huckaby got his inside-the-park home run in 2002.

Regarding Vernon Wells and Michael Young, I've always thought that the sports media tends to overplay the importance of friendships among players.  When rumours of Shawn Green leaving Toronto started swirling , there was speculation that Carlos Delgado might follow him because of the close friendship the two had.  The way their relationship was reported, you'd think Delgado was completely devoid of friends outside of Green.  When Delgado signed an extension with Toronto, he basically said Green has to do his own thing.

It will probably be the same thing with Michael Young and Wells.  If Wells does move on to Arlington, the biggest considerations for him will likely be the size and length of the contract as well as the ability to play close to home.  Young's presence might be a factor, but I seriously doubt it would be a primary reason for his departure.
Mike D - Wednesday, July 12 2006 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#150567) #

The Devil Rays finally found an offer to their liking.  The resurgent Aubrey Huff was dealt to the Astros for Mitch Talbot and Ben Zobrist.

Jays vs. Royals: Show Me The Lone Stars | 34 comments | Create New Account
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