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One-player-per-team All-Star rule is still relevant; repealing it isn't the answer

By July 5, 2010

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An annual rite of summer is the debate over who got snubbed in All-Star selections, and invariably it comes up that the one-player-per-team rule is questioned.

But stop there - there's a reason that we have the rule. And yeah, Evan Meek (the Pirates' lone pick) and Michael Bourn (the Astros' selection) aren't among the best players in the National League this year.

But I grew up near Cleveland in the 1980s, an era when few Indians deserved to be All-Stars. But the All-Star Game is an event watched by pretty much every baseball fan from coast to coast, and when Ken Schrom or Jorge Orta or Pat Tabler got in the game -- and yeah, they all actually made the American League roster in an Indians jersey -- it was a point of some pride, something we looked forward to seeing. And there are young fans of the Astros, Pirates and Indians of 2010 who will look forward to seeing Bourn, Meek and Fausto Carmona possibly get in the game. Why give these fans another reason not to care about baseball?

It does little harm to pick one player per team, especially since they seem to expand the rosters every year. There are now 34 players on each side, with fans voting, players voting and managers voting. And you know what? They all still make bad decisions on who makes the roster. (Omar Infante? A utility infielder? As one of four Atlanta Braves on the NL roster? Really, Charlie Manuel?)

It will never be a perfect process. But one-per-team is a tradition worth keeping.

New to the site: This week's About.com Power Rankings has an All-Star theme. And in the fantasy baseball Weekly Planner, Kevin Kleps presents some backup plans for owners affected by the major injuries at second base, plus more two-start pitchers, hot-and-cold lists and start-and-sit advice. And our weekly analysis of the best players available on the fantasy baseball waiver wire takes a look at another big-time prospect and three second basemen who are excelling with little notice.

Comments

July 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm
(1) Andy says:

Evan Meek leads the major leagues in ERA, so yes he is among the league’s best this year.

July 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm
(2) Scott Kendrick says:

To clarify, Meek doesn’t lead the league in ERA, because he doesn’t qualify for the leaders. Not enough innings.

Josh Johnson currently leads the league in ERA at 1.83 in 114 innings. Meek is at 0.96, but only has 47 innings. Must have 83 IP to qualify for an ERA title as of today.

That is why – in my opinion – no middle reliever should be an All-Star. If he’s that good, why is he not a closer or a starter?

SK

July 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm
(3) Robert M. Cerello says:

I respectfully disagree with the one player per team rule. This is supposed to be the United States where individual ability is measured scientifically and rewarded decently. What happens to such a rule if instead of being regulated it is wholly ignored? Baseball is a performance art. That is individual in rights, not collective under dictators. The actors, writer(s), creators in any film are supposed to be judged individually when it is time to dole out awards. Moreover, there has always been a rule that one-half season phenoms are passed over in favor of last years achievers, if they are healthy ad reasonably productive. I used 1956 statistics as a handy example; and came up with the not-too-startling fact that Bill Virdon, low power batting champ in the NL and Harvey Kuenn, the same in third place in batting percentage in the AL would have been difficult to choose if the one man per team rule had to be invoked in the selection process; with 34 choices they’d still be at the cutoff point. If the All Star Game is to mean anything American, then the old regulations need to ne improved, not replaced; your other commenters also noted the peculiarity of “long relievers”, pinch hitters, closers as potentially omitted categories owing to infrequency of appearance. All Star status belongs to regulars and to proven ballplayers, not half-season phenoms who may easily fade in the stretch. I am an American; I would like to be proud of the judgment responsible individuals exercise toward individual players. There is no “team” in individual excellence, and not forgiveness for those who fail to take OBP, ERA and consistency from the prior year into account.

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