Being a former or current Kansas City Royal is the key to not getting to an All-Star game. I went through the last calendar year, using the Fangraphs feature that pulls up the last calendar year of stats, to find the best players over the last calendar year who did not make either last year’s or this year’s All-Star Game.
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon led the way among hitters who have not been selected for either game. His issue is one of both timing, doing things that aren’t noticed as much, and the position he plays. He also had a slow start to this year but has now picked up again, probably dooming any chance of being the Royals representative. He plays a position where Josh Hamilton is the star, and he is a well-rounded player who doesn’t jump out in any one category. That’s typical of others in this group: they tend to be pretty good at everything, but not elite in a noticeable category like home runs.
Zack Greinke, on the other hand, immediately stands out when you look at the last year. The former Royal and current Brewers ace has a 18-5 record with a 2.95 ERA over the last year, but was not selected for either game as a Brewer. He did get off to a slow (and mostly unlucky) start last season, but since last July has been every bit the ace that the Brewers thought they were getting when they traded for the 2009 AL Cy Young winner.
Since I want to fill out a non-All-Star All-Star team from the last calendar year, I want guys with a chip on their shoulder, and I’ll do it with a team that likes to play defense. The pitching staff can more than hold its own with lefty Madison Bumgarner in the #2 spot. Then, I add guys like Dustin Pedroia, Brett Lawrie, and A.J. Pierzynski to give us some fight. Johnny Cueto will get to pitch against the NL team and maybe even let one slip at Tony LaRussa’s head. With Alex Gordon playing left field defensively, I can bring Josh Willingham in solely as a hitter and move him to DH. Hey, and I even got to bring in the guy who signed the biggest contract of the off-season.
Here is my team of guys who were the best over the last year that didn’t make an All-Star Game. First, the batting lineup:
- LF Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
- 2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
- 1B Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
- DH Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
- RF Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
- 3B Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
- CF Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves
- C A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox
- SS Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
Then, the pitchers:
- SP Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
- SP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
- SP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
- SP Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks
- SP Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
- RP John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
- RP Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
- RP Sean Marshall, Cincinnati Reds
[photo via US Presswire]