Five Blue Jays -- Troy Glaus, Roy Halladay, Alexis Rios, B.J. Ryan, and Vernon Wells -- will represent Toronto at the All-Star Game. How does that compare to the number of Blue Jay representatives from years past?
In 1993, the Blue Jays were not only a team full of productive, All-Star-worthy players, but their manager, Cito Gaston, was the one responsible for selecting the roster. As a result, seven Blue Jays were chosen that season, although a few of them were somewhat questionable. Of the seven, John Olerud (.395/.492/.671), Paul Molitor (.307/.390/.448), Roberto Alomar (.308/.390/.458), Duane Ward (2.04 ERA, 11.21 K/9), and Pat Hentgen (3.02 ERA, 11 W) all merited being on the roster. The other two, Devon White and Joe Carter, were questionable selections who, despite enjoying fine campaigns, were not necessarily All-Star caliber players that season. At the break, White had a line of .289/.355/.489, which is very good for a center fielder, especially one whose defense was as exceptional as his. The only problem is that, for better or worse, one's outfield position doesn't matter when constructing an All-Star team. When compared to corner outfielders, his totals are not all that exceptional. While his selection could be disputed, it wasn't an unwise one by any means. Odds are, of course, that he wouldn't have been selected had Gaston not been the AL's manager.
As for Carter, he was selected by the fans as a starter, so Gaston's nepotism is off the hook this time. Instead, the fans were likely swayed by his flashy home run and RBI totals (18 and 65, respectively) and chose to ignore his crummy on-base percentage (.317).
Before moving on, it must be noted that Olerud's first half in 1993 is likely the best ever by any Blue Jay. Consider the totals he amassed in only 87 games:
37 doubles (!)
15 home runs
22 intentional walks (!)
Of course, as we all know, he never came close to hitting .400 by season's end, although he did win the batting title with a .363 batting average. His totals, however, were still MVP-worthy, but the voters -- unfairly, in my opinion -- handed the award to Frank Thomas, while Olerud finished third in the voting.
Of the five Blue Jays chosen for the 2006 All-Star Game, only Glaus appears to be the a questionable selection. Halladay, Rios, Ryan, and Wells are having tremendous seasons, and it would be almost criminal to leave any one of them off the roster. However, Glaus, in my view, is a borderline selection. He deserves to be on the team, but it wouldn't have necessarily been unfair to leave him off in favour of someone like Mike Lowell, for example, who's enjoying a fine season in his own right.
On that note, I'd like to take a look at some of the most misguided All-Star selections of Blue Jays since the organization's inaugural season in 1977 (with help from David Pinto's Day by Day Database).
Roy Howell (3B), 1978 All-Star:
Howell had all of four home runs and a line of .293/.346/.396 at the All-Star break -- of course, not very good totals for a third baseman. As a result, significantly more deserving third basemen were left off the roster in favour Howell simply because someone from the Blue Jays had to be on the team. Sal Bando of the Brewers (then an AL team), for example, had nine home runs and a line of .265/.371/.418; Mike Cubbage of the Twins had a line of .325/.377/.465; and Carney Lansford of the Angels had a line of .291/.343/.444. Any one of them would have been a better choice than Howell.
Alfredo Griffin (SS), 1984 All-Star:
I'm amazed that Griffin made an All-Star team. Not only is he the worst Blue Jay to ever make one, but he could very well be the worst player ever to make one. His line at the break was a vomit-inducing .241/.250/.317. Not only that, but he was a below average fielder (96 Rate 2, -7 FRAA).
Damaso Garcia (2B), 1984 and 1985 All-Star:
Garcia's selections are suspect, especially considering his defense was subpar throughout most of his career. Lou Whitaker, Willie Randolph, Frank White, Joe Morgan, Tim Teufel, Marty Barrett, and Jack Perconte were all superior AL second basemen during the mid-1980's. What makes Garcia's selections even more head-scratching is that he enjoyed his career seasons in 1982 and 1983, not 1984 and 1985.
Tony Fernandez (SS), 1989 All-Star:
Fernandez normally deserved his spot on one of the several All-Star teams he made, but his selection in 1989 proved to be the exception. At the break, he was hitting .259/.292/.360 and stole a spot from the likes of Jody Reed and Alan Trammell. It was easily Fernandez's least productive season as a player. On the other hand, Fred McGriff, who had a then-incredible twenty home runs at the break, was snubbed.
George Bell (OF), 1990 All-Star:
Not only couldn't Bell get on base at a decent clip (.319), but his power (.486 SLG) wasn't all that impressive.
Shea Hillenbrand (1B), 2005 All-Star:
Not an awful selection, but corner outfielders who were more deserving got snubbed in favour of Hillenbrand. Also, it's important to note that his .362 OBP at the break was mostly the result of his 16 HBP.