As we head up to and through the MLB All-Star Game festivities, there will be an ocelot of coverage here on the 'Pit - as is only right, seeing as the event is taking place, for the first time ever, in the state of Arizona. Part of that will be this ongoing series of 'Hats Off Moments'; which are being brought to you courtesy of Head and Shoulders. The original aim was to count down the ten greatest All-Star performances by the D-backs, but it was soon noticed that this wouldn't exactly set the bar very high for Arizona, given there have only been 13 All-Star Games held since the franchise played its first game.
So, rather than celebrating Orlando Hudson's stellar 0-for-1 with a walk in the 2007 midsummer classic, we'll be doing it as a top five (technically, it's six) - and rounding out the rest of the series with a selection of other features. Which D-backs should have made the game and didn't? Which ones did, and probably shouldn't have? We start, with an overview of the team's performances, both at the plate and on the mound, as we wait for the announcement, later this morning, of the team rosters.
[Note. Not listed are players selected for the game, but who did not take part, such as Curt Schilling in 2001, Jose Valverde and Brandon Webb in 2007, or Randy Johnson in 2002 - the last-named didn't appear, even though he was on the cover of the program!]
|Devon White||1998-07-07||L 8-13||3||3||1||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Williams||1999-07-13||L 1-4||3||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Luis Gonzalez||1999-07-13||L 1-4||2||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jay Bell||1999-07-13||L 1-4||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Finley||2000-07-11||L 3-6||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Luis Gonzalez||2001-07-10||L 1-4||2||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Junior Spivey||2002-07-09||T 7-7||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Damian Miller||2002-07-09||T 7-7||3||3||1||2||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Luis Gonzalez||2002-07-09||T 7-7||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Luis Gonzalez||2003-07-15||L 6-7||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Luis Gonzalez||2005-07-12||L 5-7||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Orlando Hudson||2007-07-10||L 4-5||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Justin Upton||2009-07-14||L 3-4||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Young||2010-07-13||W 3-1||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
It's not exactly an inspiring set of performances lately.. Up until 2005 the team had done very well, going a collective 11-for-20, albeit with no home-runs and only three RBI. Over the past few seasons, however, there has been a lot less success, with O-Dawg, J-Up and CY hitless in five at-bats. As a result, it has now been six years since the last Diamondback player got a hit in the All-Star Game. Will we have a position player selected who can break that long drought - or better yet, will playing on home territory inspire them to become the first Arizona player to smack a home-run?
Might be hard, since the tendencies have been of late for players to get fewer chances. This is partly a result of the expanded rosters, but also apparently a greater effort being made to get everyone in the game. Last year, only four hitters came to the plate more than twice; compare that to the 1998 contest, the first in Diamondbacks' history, when sixteen players did so. Admittedly, that was a 13-8 slugfest, a definite aberration, more in keeping with the other All-Star games, e.g. NHL and NBA, whose All-Star Games tend to be high-scoring shoot-outs.
Particularly of late, the baseball version tends to have been much more pitching and defense dominated - despite Dan Uggla's best efforts a few years ago to prove otherwise! The past five All-Star Games have resulted in a total of only 32 runs between them, which is more than 30% below what you'd expect, given the average run environment over 2006-2010. No team has reached the 'Free Tacos' [with the purchase of a large soft drink, the next day, between 4 and 6 pm] level of offense during that time.
So have the Diamondbacks been performing on the mound? Here's the list of participants there:
|Randy Johnson||1999-07-13||L 1-4||3-3||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||3|
|Randy Johnson||2000-07-11||L 3-6||GS-1||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||4|
|Randy Johnson||2001-07-10||L 1-4||GS-2||2.0||1||0||0||0||3||0||7|
|Curt Schilling||2002-07-09||T 7-7||GS-2||2.0||1||0||0||0||3||0||7|
|Byung-Hyun Kim||2002-07-09||T 7-7||7-7 ,BS||0.1||3||2||2||0||0||0||4|
|Randy Johnson||2004-07-13||L 4-9||3-3||1.0||3||0||0||0||1||0||6|
|Brandon Webb||2006-07-11||L 2-3||4-4 ,H||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||3|
|Brandon Webb||2008-07-15||L 3-4||14-14||1.0||0||0||0||0||2||0||3|
|Dan Haren||2008-07-15||L 3-4||5-6 ,H||2.0||2||0||0||1||2||0||9|
|Dan Haren||2009-07-14||L 3-4||4-4 ,H||1.0||1||0||0||0||0||0||4|
That's much better. In fact, the Diamondbacks have been pretty stellar on the mound for the National League, with only one of the ten players selected being charged with a run. Inevitably, that man is Byung-Hyun Kim, who allowed singles to Tony Batista and Miguel Tejada, then a double to Paul Konerko, before finally getting the last out of the seventh inning. That is the only blot on an other pristine series of zeroes posted by Arizona pitchers. Taken together, their communal line is:
D-backs at the All-Star Game: 12.1 IP, 12 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 1.46 ERA.
It's hard to deny that Arizona hurlers have kicked ass, especially considering the generally high-quality of the hitters they are facing. A K:BB ratio of 14:1? Freaking amazing. But then, you look at the pedigree of the four starters who have represented Arizona, and it's not much of a surprise. Between them, Messrs. Johnson, Webb and Haren were our team's most valuable player by bWAR, every year from 1999 to 2009. Throw in Schilling and you've got no less than ten times they were winner or runner-up in the NL Cy Young balloting for us. Might Ian Kennedy or Daniel Hudson extent this long tradition of D-backs pitching excellence in the All-Star Game? We'll find out in just a few hours.