The five San Francisco Giants selected to Tuesday’s All-Star Game were the most the Giants have had in the midsummer’s classic since 1963 — the last time the Giants had five All-Stars.
Back then, there were only 10 National League teams from which to choose players from, compared to 16 today.
But the 1963 All-Star Game did not feature 84 All-Star players, including players selected who could not play and those players chosen to replace them. And that didn’t even include Aramis Ramirez, who was asked to be a replacement but declined the invitation.
When selecting an All-Star team, there are three basic philosophies as to the merit of a player.
A. What a player has accomplished over the course of his career. In this criteria, players like Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki would qualify as snubs.
B. What a player has accomplished since the previous All-Star Game. Often, what a player does in the second-half of the season doesn’t get recognized as it should.
C. What the player has done in the first three months of the season. This often is the most widely accepted criteria to judge an All-Star, whether it’s the best or not.
So let’s see where the five Giants All-Stars fit.
BRIAN WILSON. Wilson was the lone Giants chosen by player voting. The others were managerial choices. And Wilson seems to fit all three criteria (A, B and C). This season, Wilson is 6-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 26 saves. His saves ties him for second in the NL and his six wins lead NL relievers. The ERA is a bit high for him, but if you throw out his first two appearances when he was coming off the DL with an oblique strain, Wilson’s ERA shrinks to 2.16.
TIM LINCECUM. This is fourth consecutive All-Star appearance for Lincecum, including a start in 2009. Lincecum probably earns this selection based on criteria A, but B and C could be argued. For a career, he’s won two Cy Young Awards. From last All-Star Game, Lincecum had an ugly August, but then regrouped from there, including being the postseason MVP. As for this season, The Freak is 7-7 with a 3.04 ERA, numbers that might turn many heads. But last season, Lincecum earned an All-Star spot with a 9-4 mark and a 3.16 ERA. So you could say he’s been better this year, if you took time to look at the numbers.
MATT CAIN. When Cain made his first All-Star spot in 2009, he was 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA. This year, he’s 8-5 with 3.06 ERA — numbers that probably wouldn’t have garnered an All-Star spot if the team were not being selected by Bruce Bochy. But Bochy’s criteria for Cain is probably B. Cain went 7-3 with an ERA under 3.00 in the second half last season, then went unscored upon in 21+ innings in the postseason. Cain won’t pitch in Phoenix because he pitched on Sunday.
RYAN VOGELSONG. Clearly A and B don’t fit for a guy who hadn’t pitching the majors since 2006 before returning this season. But this season, he’s been dazzling, with a 6-1 record and a 2.17 ERA, which put him among the league leaders for a couple of days until he just missed qualifying heading into the break. The numbers were too good to pass up for Bochy.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Sandoval becomes the first non-pitcher from the Giants to make the All-Star Game since Barry Bonds was voted to start the 2007 Classic in San Francisco. Despite their offensive struggles this year, the Giants would have two had legitimate All-Star candidate hitters if not for injuries. One was Buster Posey, who was leading the All-Star voting at catcher before his season-ending injury. The second was Sandoval, who has been hitting at or above .300 most this season, but missed almost two months with a broken bone in his hand. But third base this season has been a wasteland of injury. All-Star starter Placido Polanco couldn’t play because he’s injured. Others, like David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman, also have been hurt. When Chipper Jones went on the DL and Aramis Ramirez passed on a bid, that opened the door for Scott Rolen, he of the .241 average. When Bochy needed another infielder when Jose Reyes pulled out with a injury, he added the Panda, who has 8 home runs, 29 RBI and a .303 average. Oh, and a 21-game hitting streak.
Giants fans shouldn’t feel bad about all of these G-men at the All-Star Game. It’s a perk for winning it all! Heck, if given another week, Bochy might have added Nate Schierholtz, too!
Oh, and by the way, the five Giants would made the 1963 All-Star Game? Catcher Ed Bailey, first baseman Orlando Cepeda, pitcher Juan Marichal and outfielders Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Four of five were Hall of Famers, not bad.