Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lone All-Star Representatives

The All-Star rosters were announced this past weekend. There are already plenty of people discussing the various merits of the selections, so I thought I'd point out something a little different. We all know that one of the restrictions of the All-Star Game rosters is that, no matter what, there must be at least one representative from each of MLB's thirty ballclubs. This year, ten of the sixty-four named All-Stars are solo representatives, ranging from the no-question-about-it nature of Kansas City's Zack Greinke to the more-questionable Andrew Bailey of Oakland.

Some may call these "obligatory" All-Stars, but I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. They do tend to come from poorly performing teams, though. It may not be the best sign, then, for a team and its fanbase to send only one representative to the All-Star Game many years in a row. If that's happening year after year, then there's probably not a whole lot to root for in those towns.

What teams, then, have had the longest string of only one All-Star Game representative? I decided to take a look at just that. The results may not be the most shocking, but I think there still might be some surprises in there. (It's also rather interesting to see that the Yankees have only had 4 years with only one All-Star selection in the 65 years history of the All-Star Game while the Mets have had twenty.)
Teams w/Only One All-Star Game Rep., Most Consecutive Years
1. Kansas City Royals, 10 years (1990 - 1999)
1. Milwaukee Brewers, 10 years (1989 - 1998)
1. Minnesota Twins, 10 years (1978 - 1987)
1. Seattle Mariners, 10 years (1977 - 1986)
5. Detroit Tigers, 9 years (1995 - 2003)
5. San Diego Padres, 9 years (1969 - 1977)
5. Montreal Expos, 9 years (1969 - 1977)
8. Tampa Bay Rays, 8 years (2000 - 2007)
9. Texas Rangers, 7 years (1982 - 1988)
9. Toronto Blue Jays, 7 years (1977 - 1983)
9. Pittsburgh Pirates, 7 years (1949 - 1955)
There are a bunch of expansion and near-expansion teams on the list, which does make sense. But that's not really a valid excuse for those 1980s Twins teams or the 1990s Royals or Tigers teams.

This doesn't tell the full story, though. There are a number of examples of teams having two or more multi-year streaks broken up by only one year of having more than one All-Star. For example, between 1947 and 1956, the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles had only one All-Star in 9 of the 10 years. Expanding the leaderboard to include those instances, the list looks like this:
Teams w/Only One All-Star, Longest Span of Time
1. Kansas City Royals, 17 of 19 years (1990 - 2008)
2. Milwaukee Brewers, 14 of 16 years (1986 - 2001)
3. Pittsburgh Pirates, 13 of 15 years (1994 - 2008)
4. Seattle Mariners, 13 of 15 years (1977 - 1991)
5. Chicago White Sox, 13 of 14 years (1976 - 1989)
6. Detroit Tigers, 10 of 11 years (1995 - 2005)
7. Washington Senators, 10 of 11 years (1961 - 1972) *includes 2 All-Star Games each in 1961 and 1962
8. Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns, 9 of 10 years (1949 - 1956)
9. Philadelphia Phillies, 9 of 10 years (1935 - 1944)
10. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, 9 of 12 years (1997 - 2008)
However you slice it, this streak that the Royals are on (which extends to 18 of 20 this year with the sole selection of Zack Greinke) is not great for them or their fans. I'm pretty surprised to see the Pirates down at number three on the list, considering their record run of losing seasons. They have had some decent All-Star selections in that time, though, with Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, and Jason Bay.

In the end, this list may not tell us a whole lot that we don't already know - yes, the Brewers, Royals, and Pirates of the last twenty years have had some tough years - but it's still good to have. After all, how else would we remember the weak string of years from those early 1980s Twins or Mariners? For the sake of the fans around the country, though, I hope that the streaks that are currently ongoing in Kansas City and Pittsburgh end soon. It's just good for baseball when the stars are spread around the map.

1 comment:

Bill said...

When I saw that list, I couldn't believe that the Twins only had one representative when the game was held in the Dome in 1985 (I remember it happening, but I was six). But sure enough, it was the last year Puckett wasn't in the ASG, and a really bad year for, well, the whole team. The game did feature all three of the greatest Minnesotan baseball players in history, all of whom would later be Twins (Winfield and Morris started, Molitor was a reserve), and former-and-future-and-now-much-beloved Twin Blyleven in the 'pen (amazing that he only made two ASGs).

An interesting (to me) follow-up question would be how many times the host city has had only one representative...I feel like the managers would never let that happen nowadays, but I haven't looked back beyond 2009 yet (this year's Cards have 3). :)