Major League Baseball just wrapped up the All-Star week festivities and the Red Sox will begin the remainder of their season against Detroit on Friday. The team has crushed it this year and sent five All-Stars to the nation’s capital including three starters in Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Chris Sale. You could also argue that Craig Kimbrel has been the best closer in the American League this season. The fifth and final selection for the team was Mitch Moreland—an unexpected selection indeed. His selection got me thinking about the most unlikely All-Star selections since 1960. Why 1960? Well, why not use Ted Williams last year as a demarcation point for all history?
10. Hideki Okajima, RP- 2007
It’s safe to say that Okajima was not the Japanese signee we were most looking forward to at the start of the 2007 season. That honor went to Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K had been a hero in the WBC and was going to come over the US with his gyroball and dominate the league. Instead of dominating he finished with a 4.40 ERA and failed to make the All-Star team. Okajima, however, did not disappoint. Although little was expected of the 31-year-old reliever Oki pitched to a 0.83 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in the first half of the season earning a trip to the All-Star game. He would finish the year with a 2.22 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 63 K’s over 69 IP. Without Okajima’s lefty prowess I don’t think the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007.
9. Mitch Moreland, 1B- 2018
When Moreland began this season he was due to split time at first base with Hanley Ramirez and it’s safe to say we were all shocked when that didn’t end up happening for a full season. Moreland started off the year hot at age 32 while Ramirez quickly floundered after a promising start. When Ramirez was released Moreland took over the job and the lefty earned an All-Star berth by posting the 10th best fWAR among first basemen in the first half trailing only Matt Olson from the AL and the 11th best wRC+ in baseball behind only Justin Smoak in the AL. The vast majority of the elite first basemen were in the NL this year and as a result Moreland had an opportunity to make a career first All-Star team.
8. Don Schwall, SP- 1961
In 1961 a young man by the name of Carl Yastrzemski debuted with the Boston Red Sox and would begin arguably the best career in the history of the team. That same year Yaz would be outshined by 25-year-old, 6’6’ righty by the name of Don Schwall. The tall and lanky Schwall would end up going 15-7 that season with a 3.22 ERA, certainly respectable numbers. When you dig a bit closer though, it wasn’t very good. Schwall had a WHIP of 1.55 to go along with just 91 strikeouts. When ranked by pitchers with over 100 IP during the 1961 season, Schwall finished 42nd by fWAR. Schwall would go on to be named the AL Rookie of the Year and would never better this season. By the end of the 1967 season Schwall was finished with baseball while Yaz would post his remarkable 11.1 fWAR season.
7. Mike Fornieles, RP-1961
Coming off a 1960 season where Fornieles was the Red Sox best relief pitcher with a 2.64 ERA over 109 IP, big things were expected in 1961. Fornieles, who was born in Cuba, had ever earned some MVP votes the previous season at age 28. Coasting off his reputation from the previous year’s success Fornieles made the All-Star team despite finishing the season with a 4.68 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 15 saves. By the end of the 1961 season he ranked 106th out of 109 qualified relief pitchers in fWAR at -0.2.
6. Steven Wright, SP-2016
Remember how nasty Wright was to start the 2016 season? I do. Wright made the team by posting stellar first half numbers in both ERA 2.68 and WHIP 1.21. By the time the first half ended Wright was 26th in baseball with 2.0 fWAR which would good enough for 10th best among AL starters. Unfortunately for Wright he couldn’t, and still can’t, stay on the field. Wright was injured in the second half ending his season, but not before he disappointed us with a 5.06 second half ERA. Get well soon Wright.
5. Scott Cooper, 3B-1993 and 1994
If you remember the 1993 and 1994 seasons you probably remember sub .500 baseball along with Cooper as the Red Sox sole representative in the All-Star game. During those seasons Cooper posted a wRC+ of 96 and 95 respectively and combined for a whopping 22 home runs. Cooper’s teammate Mo Vaughn had much better offensive seasons both years, but first base competition in the AL consisted of John Olerud, Cecil Fielder, Frank Thomas, and Will Clark. Over that stretch of time Cooper ranked 8th in baseball among qualified third basemen in fWAR. He was behind two notable and more deserving players in Robin Ventura and Wade Boggs—the latter was playing for the Yankees. Despite 93 and 94 being his best defensive seasons it’s hard to argue that his .763 and .860 OPS from the first halves of these All-Star seasons made him a deserving selection. If you are interested, Cooper is several degrees from the Red Sox acquisition of David Ortiz, so thanks for that Scott!
4. Shea Hillenbrand, 3B- 2002
Most of you probably remember Hillenbrand whose memory tends to far outshine his performance in Boston Red Sox history. If you forgot, Hillenbrand was an All-Star in 2002 posting a .298/.331/.490 first half slash line with 13 dingers and a 114 wRC+. Hillenbrand was basically allergic to walks, played mediocre defense, and is not smiling on his Baseball Reference page. Hillenbrand would finish the 2002 season with just 18 HR and pedestrian 105 wRC+ and no the defense wouldn’t get better. He ranked 14th best among third baseman by fWAR and 9th by wRC+ marks that are hardly deserving of an All-Star selection. He was later traded for reliever Byung Hyun Kim.
3. Mark Clear, RP-1982
Remember Mark Clear? Yeah, me neither. To be fair I wasn’t born yet, but that aside his 11-year-career as a reliever was not super memorable. Clear finished his career with a 3.85 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and a very icky 6.9% K-BB rate. Not so hot. In the 1982 season he pitched to a respectable 3.00 ERA over 105.1 innings while closing out 14 games for the club. By the All-Star break Clear had posted a 2.93 ERA with 11 saves, albeit with his typical poor WHIP. Clear would go on to save only three more games in the second half of the season as his teammate Bob Stanley would get the majority of those opportunities. He finished his 11-year-career with just 4.6 fWAR, but kudos for sticking around for 11 seasons!
2. Brock Holt, UTL-2015
The 2015 Red Sox team was not fun to watch, in fact they won just 78 games en route to a second consecutive last place finish in the division. To make matters worse the lone representative to the All-Star game for the team was comically, Holt. How the hell did he make the team? Well I guess it’s because every team needs at least some representation. The numbers were not impressive. Holt’s first half ended with an empty .292/.379/.412 with just two home runs. Holt would finish the year with those same two home runs and rate as the 14th best second baseman by fWAR. His 99 wRC+ to the end the season was just slightly below average. An undeserving All-Star indeed.
1. Jerry Moses, C- 1970
Imagine making the All-Star game with a slash line of .278/.316/.394 and a whopping three home runs in the first half? Jeez man, I know it’s the catcher position, but come on! When looking up this All-Star selection I was more and more confused on how it happened as I read more. Moses was not good, in fact he was worse than nearly every other catcher in the American League. Moses finished the year ranked 30th among all catchers with at least 200 PA and sported an 80 wRC+. Moses played just 92 games that season due to missing time with a hand injury. The most notable thing you can say about Moses is that he was traded to the Angels along with Tony Conigliaro after the season. But hey, good on you for making an All-Star team Jerry!