What Makes a Player an All Star?

Is an all star a one dimensional player who can hit the cover off the ball? I would consider a true all star to be a player that is as above average both offensively AND defensively. Willie Mays was one of those rare players, so was Carl Yastrzemski and more recently, players like Dustin Pedroia, Ken Griffey Jr., the younger Barry Bonds and Ivan Rodriguez. These players either had or have gold glove caliber defensive skills (feel free to add any of the many that I’ve left out in the comments section) to go along with their superior offensive prowess at their position.

It is my opinion that in today’s game, offense is more sought after by the fans than defense, just look at the All Star game selections every year, or MLB awards such as the MVP or rookie of the year. For example, the winner of last year’s NL rookie of the year should have gone to the better all around player, Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki. Sure the defensive minded have the Gold Glove awards, but hitters get an unfair advantage for both the silver slugger awards and the MVP. A true MVP should also be an outstanding fielder as well, but that’s a story for another post!

This year, there was an uproar as to why the players in the AL selected Boston’s Jason Varitek to be a reserve selection onto the 2008 All Star team. The main complaint has been that he’s not the best “hitting” catcher in the AL. Heck, he’s only hitting around .220 and his typically good OBP is either just under or just over .300, but what I think the other AL players were taking into consideration is the fact that Varitek is a darn good defensive catcher.

He is the only catcher to have ever caught 4 no-hitters! He caught Hideki Nomo’s (2001), Derek Lowe’s (2002), Clay Buchholz’s (last September) and Jon Lester’s (this year). To read up on the accomplishment, just click HERE.

12 other catchers have caught 3 and Varitek came one hit away from catching Schilling’s attempt last year in Oakland (before Buchholz), but Schilling did what he almost never does, he shook off Varitek. That would have been the 3rd, which would have made Buchholz’s the 4th and Lester’s his 5th. Here’s what Schilling had to say about his 1-hitter after the game, thanks to an article in the Boston Globe by  Gordon Edes: “I had a plan,” Schilling said. “I shook ‘Tek off. And I’ve got the big ‘what if’ for the rest of my life.” To read the rest of this article, click HERE.

For years, the Cardinal’s SS Ozzie Smith, the Wizard of OZ, wowed the MLB with his glove and appeared in many All Star games, even when he wasn’t hitting well, but he was SO good defensively, who complained? Somewhere down the road, we as fans have missed that ideal in recent years. I say we should embrace great defense as highly s we do offense. Chicks may dig the long ball, but real fans should have a deep appreciation for good, solid defense once again, too!

One Comment

  1. SoxAddict

    July 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Sadly, Varitek has only thrown out 14% of runners this season. Even his defense is struggling :\

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