Every season during the All-Star break, fans lament the players who they think are deserving of a roster spot for the Midsummer Classic but who were left off — the “snubs.”
While it’s bad enough to miss out on the All-Star Game during a solid season, coming up empty over an entire career — especially a good career — must be hard to swallow.
With that in mind, here are the top 10 batters and top 10 pitchers, as determined by WAR, to never make an All-Star team.
These guys are all Wax Pack Gods in their own rights, and we’re illustrating them below with (roughly) their first solo baseball card.
Tony Phillips (48.2 WAR)
Phillips was a super utility man for 18 seasons and the sparkplug of the great Oakland A’s teams in the late 1980s. He didn’t slow down a bit when he moved to the Detroit Tigers in 1990 and even picked up enough votes to finish 16th in the 1993 AL MVP race. Alas, he was never the top guy at any one position and thus missed out on All-Star action.
Tim Salmon (37.6 WAR)
Salmon was part of the pedigree of young California Angels who made waves in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and he won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1993. His powerful bat in right field garnered him decent MVP consideration for several seasons, but an All-Star berth was out of reach.
Eric Chavez (37.4 WAR)
Chavez was a key member of the Moneyball A’s in the early 2000s and regularly appeared on MVP ballots. Even so, there was enough good talent at third base back then to keep him off the All-Star roster. It didn’t help that legend Cal Ripken, Jr., was playing out his career at third, too.
Kirk Gibson (37.1 WAR)
Gibson is legendary for his gritty play, which was at its peak when he came off the bench to slug a gimpy, game-winning home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 World Series. He won the National League MVP that season but even that wasn’t enough to get Gibby on an All-Star team.
Richie Hebner (35.2 WAR)
Hebner made the Majors at just 20 years of age in 1970 and was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting third baseman at 21. He held that post until he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent before the 1976 season. Though Hebner was one of the better 3Bs in the National League for several seasons, the Midsummer Classic never came calling.
Garry Maddox (33.8 WAR)
Maddox was perhaps the greatest defensive center fielder of his generation, and he developed into a pretty solid hitter during his 15-year career, too. There were just too many great outfielders plying their trade during the 1970s and 1980s, though, and Maddox whiffed on ASG selections.
Jose Valentin (33.7 WAR)
Valentin got somewhat lost in the A-Rod-Nomar shortstop shuffle fo the 1990s, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ middle infielder was one of the guys who helped bring power to the center of the diamond. He had almost no chance of making the All-Star team, though, considering the competition … and he didn’t.
Dwayne Murphy (32.9 WAR)
Murphy hit for power, ran fast, and was good enough in center field for the Oakland A’s to win six straight Gold Gloves in the 1980s. With all the great outfielders in the AL during those years, though, Murphy missed out completely on the All-Star Game.
Ken McMullen (31.7 WAR)
McMullen shared his 1963 Topps rookie card with Pete Rose and never really came out of the shadows of bigger names. Though he put up some solid seasons as a corner infielder for 16 years, he never made an All-Star Game.
Earl Torgeson (31.5 WAR)
Torgeson broke in with the Boston Braves in 1947 and spent 15 years as a slugging first baseman for several Major League teams. He didn’t slug enough to make an impact with All-Star voters, though, and not even his sweet spectacles could land him a roster spot.
Tom Candiotti (41.0 WAR)
“The Candy Man” rode his confounding knuckleball to a solid 16-year Major League career as a starter, but not even the knuckler could get him a spot on an All-Star team.
Danny Darwin (37.1 WAR)
Darwin began his Major League career with the Texas Rangers in 1978 and didn’t hang up his spikes for more than 20 years. Along the way he started and pitched long relief for all sorts of teams — but never one that included “All-Star.”
John Tudor (32.3 WAR)
Tudor finished second in the 1985 Cy Young Award voting and eighth in the MVP vote after winning 21 games in the regular season. Despite that performance, he didn’t make the NL All-Stars and never really had a chance in any of his other 11 Big League campaigns.
Bill Hands (31.8 WAR)
Hands was the second best pitcher — behind Fergie Jenkins — on the 1969 Chicago Cubs team that tried like heck to steal the Amazin’ Mets’ thunder. Even with 20 wins that year and another 90 over his other 10 seasons in the Bigs, though, Hands came up empty in his All-Star bids.
Charlie Leibrandt (31.7 WAR)
Leibrandt won 140 games over a solid 14-year career, including 17 for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals in 1985. Even that performance didn’t land him an All-Star berth, though.
Jim Barr (30.5 WAR)
Barr was a control specialist for the San Franciso Giants in the mid-1970s, but that didn’t make him too exciting for All-Star voters. With a high of 15 wins in 1976 and never having struck out even 100 batters in a season, it’s no surprise that Barr didn’t make the AS cut.
John Denny (29.5 WAR)
The most decorated pitcher on our list, Denny won the NL Cy Young award for the pennant-winning Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. That was easily his greatest season, though, and he was out of baseball by the end of 1986.
Fritz Ostermueller (27.6 WAR)
Ostermueller turned in some solid seasons for the Boston Red Sox in the 1930s and for the Pirates in the 1940s. Of course, “solid” doesn’t usually net you an All-Star appearance, and that was the case for Ostermueller.
Ellis Kinder (27.4 WAR)
On the other hand, Kinder won 23 games for the BoSox in 1949 and finished fifth in MVP voting that year. In two other seasons, he finished seventh and eleventh, but none of it was good enough to make the All-Star team.
Kevin Tapani (26.7 WAR)
Tapani won 16 games for the world champion Minnesota Twins in 1991, when he finished seventh in the AL Cy Young vote. He’d landed in 5th place in AL ROY voting the year before and won 143 games in 13 seasons. Nevertheless, Tapani never made it to the All-Star game.
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