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Who are the best players never to make an All-Star team?

Jul 9, 2010, 3:58 PM EDT

Since the All-Star rosters were announced Sunday people have been arguing about who should and shouldn’t have made the team, with the focus often being on the biggest snubs. But who are the biggest All-Star snubs, in terms of never being picked for an entire career?
Baseball-Reference.com recently added that sorting feature to its amazing “Play Index” and I crunched the numbers using a stat called Wins Above Replacement to find which players accumulated the most career value as zero-time All-Stars.
Here’s the top 10 for hitters and pitchers:

HITTERS             WAR        PITCHERS            WAR
Tony Phillips      48.2        Tom Candiotti      41.0
Tim Salmon         37.6        Danny Darwin       37.1
Kirk Gibson        37.1        John Tudor         32.3
Eric Chavez        35.8        Bill Hands         31.8
Richie Hebner      35.2        Charlie Leibrandt  31.7
Garry Maddox       33.8        Jim Barr           30.5
Jose Valentin      33.7        John Denny         29.5
Dwayne Murphy      32.9        Fritz Ostermueller 27.6
Ken McMullen       31.7        Ellis Kinder       27.4
Earl Torgeson      31.5        Kevin Tapani       26.7

Some interesting names on those lists, but I think the clear lesson is that while there are plenty of regrettable snubs every season few great or even very good players fail to end up in the All-Star game eventually.
If you’re curious, here are the same lists except with active players only:

HITTERS             WAR        PITCHERS            WAR
Eric Chavez        35.8        Doug Davis         22.1
David DeJesus      22.1        A.J. Burnett       21.5
Casey Blake        21.7        Aaron Harang       18.1
Travis Hafner      19.7        Erik Bedard        17.1
Mark Ellis         19.2        Darren Oliver      16.2
Mark Kotsay        19.0        Rich Harden        15.5
Adam Kennedy       18.1        John Danks         15.2
Craig Counsell     18.1        Octavio Dotel      13.9
Orlando Cabrera    18.0        Joel Pineiro       13.7
Lyle Overbay       17.0        Jeff Weaver        13.4

Eric Chavez and most of the other guys have missed their chance at this point, but John Danks and David DeJesus have played at an All-Star level this season and are young enough to be decent bets to make it eventually.

  1. Levi Stahl - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    I’m surprised Tudor didn’t make it in 1985, and I was quite surprised when I learned about Gibson a few days ago–’88 would have seemed to be a lock. Maybe they both had worse first halves than second halves those years?

  2. ThatGuy - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Im surprised Hafner didn’t make one. 2004 – 2006 he was as good as anyone in the league. Of course there is always a log jam at first and DH so i guess it shouldnt be all that surprising.

  3. Simon DelMonte - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    Gibson is the only former MVP on that list. It’s interesting that he could have an MVP season – what that’s worth – but not be invited to the game the same year.
    Which begs the question of how many other players missed the ASG and won the MVP, or the Cy Young.

  4. ThatGuy - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Morneau wasn’t in the all star game in 06′ when he won his MVP. But has been 07- present.

  5. scatterbrian - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Chavez had a six-year stretch where he averaged 4.7 WAR and won the Gold Glove each year. But he always managed to have a stinker April or May, and that combined with playing in Oakland kept him from getting any All Star support. Alex Rodriguez moving to 3B didn’t help matters either….

  6. monkeyball - Jul 9, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Following on scatterbrian’s trian of thought (CWIDT?), I think something like “sustained peak WAR” would probably be a better measure for this than simple career total WAR (that’s more of a HOF metric). And I’d guess that if you just went by “sustained peak WAR,” Chavez would probably be the best player ever to not make an ASG.

  7. Jesuswtf - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Playing in Oakland … lots of players on those lists that plays(ed) for the A’s:
    Phillips, Chavez, Murphy, Ellis, Kotsay, Kennedy, Cabrera, Harang, Harden, Dotel
    Anti-A’s bias? Though not saying that when all of them were in Oakland they had All-Star-like season when they were there.

  8. jordanv - Jul 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    The reason Kirk Gibson never made it, is because he sucked!! He was only marginally talented…MVP in 88, cmon, have you seen his stats for that year? When did they give out the MVP back in 88? Was it after the WS, because I’m willing to bet that, if the MVP was given out after the WS, Gibson won because of one at bat in the WS!!

  9. john pileggi - Jul 12, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    John Tudor. The could be unhittable at times on the 1980’s.

  10. nofunforfu - Jul 15, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    jordanv: From 84-88, Gibson hit 27,29,28,24 and 25 home runs, drove in nearly 100 runs three of those years and stole anywhere from 26-34 bases each year. His combination of power and speed made him one of the best outfielders in the majors over that time period.
    In 85 and 88 he was invited to participate in the All Star game, but declined to go.

  11. drmccue - Jul 15, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    You’re right about Tudor’s 1985 start, Levi. 1-7 to open the season, finished 21-8.

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