While writing up the preview for this year’s All-Star Game, I looked at the previous performances of the Arizona Diamondbacks selected for the game. It looked as if the pitchers had done an awful lot better than the hitters. But it was hard to tell, based just on the D-backs’ numbers. Now the 2017 All-Star Game is in the book - with another scoreless inning by an Arizona arm, courtesy of Zack Greinke - I thought I’d dig into this a bit further. I’ve tallied up all the innings pitched in the last 20 All-Star games, which takes you back to when the Diamondbacks and Rays joined the league in 1998. Who has done best? And who has seen most action?
One of the answers to the former might surprise you. For no Rockie has ever allowed an earned run in the All-Star Game. Admittedly, that’s partly because their pitchers don’t often get picked. Of the 45 Colorado players to have appeared, 40 are hitters. But the five pitchers who have appeared have all done well, Mike Hampton (2001) being the sole one to give up even an unearned run. Indeed, in 2008, Aaron Cook became the only pitcher for either side since Greg Maddux in 1994 to throw three innings, as the game went 15 innings before the American League prevailed. The Royals are also at 0.00 since 1998, their last earned run having come a year prior.
Arizona comes in a respectable enough eighth across the 30 MLB teams (I merged Washington and Montreal together, for the purposes of this), now having a 1.84 ERA. They deserve particular praise for their 15:1 K:BB ration, which is second only to the 10:0 one by the Giants; the sole pitcher since 1983 to have walked an All-Star hitter for San Franciso was Robb Nen, just outside the period of this study in 1997, the year before Arizona arrived. The worst ERA belongs to Cleveland, who have allowed seven earned runs in eight innings. That 7.88 figure puts them just ahead, again perhaps surprisingly, of St. Louis at 7.15. Here are the stats for all 30 teams.
All-Star pitching 1998-2017
You may also notice a wide range in the amount of work teams have had in the All-Star Game. The Pirates have pitched least, at a mere 5.1 innings in 20 years. That’s less than one-quarter the amount of the top two teams; the Dodgers (24.1) lead the way, just pipping the Yankees (24) for the most. However, to a large extent, this simply reflects those two teams’ sustained success. From 1998 through today, no team has won more regular-season games than the Yankees. With a total of 1,851, they have almost a hundred more victories than the next-most, the Cardinals at 1,752. The Dodgers are in the top five too, at 1,703. [Arizona is 17th, on 1,556]
If you plot innings pitched in the All-Star Game against regular season wins, there is a pretty clear correlation - statistically, it works out at 0.70, which is definitely significant. This makes some sense: successful teams tend to have more players in the Midsummer Classic each year, while the losing ones often get only their token representative. Witness the spike in All-Star representation for the D-backs this season, with the most players going to the game since Bob Brenly picked the National League squad in 2002. Below, you’ll see the chart plotting IP vs. Wins.
Do we see the same thing on the hitting side? You’ll have to wait to find out, for I’m saving that side of things, for the next off-day...