Wait Mark Loretta was an All-Star? Mark Loretta was an All-Star STARTER?????
Forty-year-old Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2001 All-Star Game start was awarded purely out of legacy, and it’s been frequently compared to Jeter’s this week. Ripken, however, had the worst first half of any All-Star Game starter from the past four decades, having played much worse than Jeter has thus far in 2014. Ripken’s first-half triple-slash line in 2001 was .240/.270/.324 (good for a 56 Weighted Runs Created Plus); Jeter’s 2014 line is .272/.324/.322 (80 wRC+), despite playing in a more difficult offensive environment. Jeter may not be playing like a typical All-Star, but he hasn’t been as bad as Ripken was at the same age.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact not all – or even most — ill-advised All-Star starting picks went to sentimental selections. Of the 50 worst starters listed above, there are more players under age 30 (18) than 35-or-older (16). For most of the prime-aged players who started the All-Star Game despite poor first halves, though, their presence can be explained by a good season the year prior. This phenomenon is fueled by baseball’s long-standing confusion over whether the All-Star Game is supposed to honor the players who played best in the first half of the season in question, those who played best since the previous All-Star Game, or simply the best players in general.
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