Default all-stars: 4 Brewers who probably didn’t deserve to make the All-Star Game
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Now more than halfway into the Major League season, it’s become painfully obvious that the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t exactly playing All-Star-caliber baseball. As a result of various injuries, a woefully underperforming starting rotation (until recently), and Rickie goddamn Weeks, the Brewers have managed fewer than 40 wins. Presently, only the Chicago White Sox (who’ve experienced similar disappointment) and the historically bad Houston Astros and Miami Marlins have managed fewer wins to this point, and each of those teams are one good week from overtaking Milwaukee. Even the Chicago Cubs—who have made no secret of their intention to rebuild from the bottom over the next few seasons—have more wins than their last-place division rival across the northern border.
However, the Brewers will send two players to New York to participate in next week’s All-Star Game. Both Carlos Gomez (who’s leading the team in home runs and total bases, has more than 20 stolen bases, is hitting above .300, and does things like THIS on the reg) and breakout shortstop Jean Segura (who has swiped close to 30 bags, hit more than 10 homers, and has the team lead in hits) will represent the beleaguered Brewers organization. Despite the team’s predominately poor play on the whole, both Milwaukee mid-summer classic representatives are more than deserving of the honor.
Yet that’s not always the case. The All-Star Game is, at its heart, a deeply flawed exhibition game, and one of its most glaring failures is the requirement of having at least one player from each team—even those with no truly deserving player. Being an organization with many disappointing seasons over the course of its nearly 45-year existence, the Milwaukee Brewers have had more than a couple requisite All-Stars. Here are some of our favorites.
Jim Sundberg (1984)
The pride of Galesburg, Illinois, the former first-round selection and longtime Texas Rangers catcher came to Milwaukee in 1984 in exchange for Ned Yost. Sundberg was always more of a defensive player, with six consecutive Gold Gloves to his credit. However, in his sole Brewers season, Sundberg’s defense regressed a tad and he put up just six homers and 37 RBI through July. Further proving he didn’t deserve this particular accolade, the catcher managed just one home run and six RBI after July.
Kevin Seitzer (1995)
Losing 18 games because of a strike didn’t help anybody’s stats in ’95. But even a labor dispute-shortened season couldn’t make a legitimate case for Seitzer’s All-Star status. The Brewers third baseman managed five homers, 69 RBI, and 153 hits—which would’ve been a great first half. However, that was Seitzer’s season total during one of the most hitter-friendly (albeit chemically enhanced, allegedly) epochs in baseball history. Even fellow Brewer Jeff Cirillo managed more homers and comparable run totals in 164 fewer at-bats.
Bob Wickman (2000)
As far as Wisconsin is concerned, former Brewers closer Bob Wickman is a perennial All-Star. Born in Green Bay, the pudgy pitcher saved an impressive 79 games and posted a 3.20 ERA over parts of five seasons in Milwaukee. Wickman even endeared himself to much of the fanbase with his unlikely rise to the majors, conveyed by the iconic sinker he developed using the nub of his index finger he partially severed in, get this, a farming accident. Still, Wickman’s great 267-save career and his in-state affability didn’t make him deserving of a spot on the 2000 National League All-Star squad. At the break, Wickman had just 13 saves (10th in the NL), while Antonio Alfonseca led the league with 28. Alfonseca also led all of baseball in number of fingers on a pitching hand with six (a full 1.5 more than Wickman).
Ben Sheets (2001)
While often injury-shortened, Ben Sheets’ eight-year Brewers career was a memorable and storied one. That career began in 2001, when the Brewers rookie qualified for the first of his four career midsummer classics—and the only one in which he had no business appearing. While the brittle hurler’s pre-All-Star break tally of 10 wins (tied for fifth most in NL) and 3.59 ERA weren’t anything to scoff at, wins don’t really matter, and most of Sheets’ numbers were worse than more deserving pitchers like Curt Schilling, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Roy Oswalt, Tom Glavine, and others. To further prove Milwaukee’s then-default ace wasn’t yet All-Star caliber, Sheets finished the season with a 4.8 ERA and a paltry 94 strikeouts. For a frame of reference, Sheets struck out 264 batters in 2004, his first deserving All-Star season.