All-Star fixtures could head back to Midsummer Classic

May 9th, 2016

There were 33 first-time All-Stars last year, and many more will be headed for San Diego on July 12 with such players as Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Story, Colby Rasmus and Maikel Franco on the right path so far. Turnover and young marquee talent is the new norm heading into the 87th MLB All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.

But what about the fixtures of the Midsummer Classic? Major League Baseball has a grand tradition of anointing players who seemed to be All-Stars forever: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken Jr., Rod Carew, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and so on. The top 16 in All-Star selections (Pete Rose excluded) are, not coincidentally, Hall of Famers.

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So something has to give as you fill out that Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot to choose starters at Petco Park, right? looked at the All-Star selection history of all active players (including pitchers), whether initially chosen or added as roster replacements, to see what constitutes All-Star longevity these days.

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees is the dean of active players with 14 All-Star selections. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is on the longest such roll, and he is on course through April for an eighth consecutive selection. And speaking of streaks, who knew that Angels outfielder Mike Trout -- All-Star MVP two years running -- already has one of the longest?

Here's a breakdown of three All-Star mainstay categories:

Longest active selection streaks (min. 3)

Molina: 7

6 Miguel Cabrera: 6

Jose Bautista: 6

Felix Hernandez: 5

Clayton Kershaw: 5

Andrew McCutchen: 5

Aroldis Chapman: 4

Adam Jones: 4

Trout: 4

Madison Bumgarner: 3

Nelson Cruz: 3

Alex Gordon: 3

Salvador Perez: 3

Glen Perkins: 3

Max Scherzer: 3

Troy Tulowitzki: 3

The fact that we are listing three as the minimum speaks volumes about how short these streaks are getting. As more youth is served, more veterans hand it over.

Sometimes a change of scenery gets in the way. Players switch teams far more commonly than they did in halcyon days when so many greats racked up selections in the teens.

Consider Craig Kimbrel, who was cruising with four straight All-Star selections as Atlanta's closer before being traded to Atlanta last April. His numbers declined and he joined the common-folk players on vacation during All-Star break. Now Kimbrel is the Red Sox closer, and entering Friday he seems viable to return, with nine saves in 10 tries.

And then there is the epic case of Albert Pujols, as we can see in the next category:

Most All-Star selections among active players (min. 5)

Rodriguez: 14

Pujols: 10

Ichiro Suzuki: 10

Cabrera: 10

David Ortiz: 9

Carlos Beltran: 8

Matt Holliday: 7

Brian McCann: 7

Molina: 7

David Wright: 7

Bautista: 6

Ryan Braun: 6

Robinson Cano: 6

Prince Fielder: 6

Hernandez: 6

Joe Mauer: 6

Jonathan Papelbon: 6

Francisco Rodriguez: 6

CC Sabathia: 6

Chase Utley: 6

Justin Verlander: 6

Adrian Gonzalez: 5

Josh Hamilton: 5

Jones: 5

Kershaw: 5

Victor Martinez: 5

Andrew McCutchen: 5

David Price: 5

Tulowitzki: 5

At his peak, Pujols seemed the likeliest of any player to soar on these lists and fall amongst the hallowed All-Star fixtures. Then he left St. Louis for riches in Anaheim. True, the first baseman's health was an issue after he joined the Angels, but after being selected for All-Star Games in nine of his 11 seasons with the Cardinals (he still finished in the top five in National League MVP Award voting in the two other years), he was not selected in his first three years as an American Leaguer. Last year, Pujols finally found his way back into the Midsummer Classic, in spite of a 3.1 WAR that was far below his norm as a Cardinal. Will he have an 11th selection in 2016?

Ortiz is in his final season, so it would not be surprising to see a sentimental value added to his All-Star candidacy this summer. There is no reason so far to think that Big Papi will be denied double figures in All-Star selections on his way out. And he would be in heady company, considering there are 15 Hall of Famers who were selected 10 times to All-Star rosters.

In comparing All-Star fixtures past and present, it is best to go by seasons rather than number of games. From 1959-62, there were two All-Star Games, so there were more opportunities for legends like Mickey Mantle, who was an All-Star in 16 seasons but in 20 total games.

Could Cabrera, the Detroit first baseman, snag six more selections and tie Mantle on that all-time list then? This summer is another distinct possibility, so we'd be down to five and remember that Cabrera just turned 33 on April 18.

Longest All-Star selections streaks during active careers (min. 5)

Ichiro: 10

Rodriguez: 9

Pujols: 8

Molina: 7

Bautista: 6

Cabrera: 6

McCann: 6

Braun: 5

Cano: 5

Hernandez: 5

Kershaw: 5

McCutchen: 5

Ortiz: 5

Utley: 5

Verlander: 5

Wright: 5

Keep an eye on McCutchen, who is only 29 and is on track for what could be a sixth straight selection as a Pirate. And most of all, watch out for Bryce Harper -- likely headed for his fourth All-Star selection at the age of 23, with expectations of many, many more.

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Following the announcement of the 2016 All-Stars, be sure to return to and cast your 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game., MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.