The All-Star game may behind us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t already start looking forward to the next one. This year, we saw two Angels get named to their first All-Star squad ever, both in somewhat unlikely fashion. That got me thinking, what other current Angels that have never been All-Star have the potential to be selected someday and which could end up being the new Tim Salmon (best player on the team to never be an All-Star)?
If Howie can do it, so can you! OK, not you, Jeff Mathis, but everyone else.
It seems like some years that Angels have a hard time even getting the mandatory one All-Star on to the roster, but the 2011 Halos do have 8 players (Weaver, Kendrick, Walden, Hunter, Wells, Santana, Haren, Abreu) on the roster who have made an All-Star team at one point in there career. What I want to know though is which of the remaining players we might some day see sporting the usually gaudy All-Star threads.
No Chance in Hell
I know this is America and we are supposed to believe anyone can accomplish anything as long as they put their mind to it, but this batch of Halos can put their mind to it as much as they want and they are never going to witness the All-Star Game in person unless they buy tickets like the rest of us.
Jeff Mathis – The only guys that ever make an All-Star team with a sub-.200 batting average are pitchers, sorry Jeff.
Bobby Cassevah – There is a lot of debate raging over whether or not the All-Star rosters should include relievers, so I don’t really see how low-ceiling groundball specialist is ever going to make the team,
Bobby Wilson – If you can’t pass Jeff Mathis on the depth chart, you aren’t making the All-Star team. I’m pretty sure that might be the 11th Commandment.
Trevor Bell – Triple-A All-Stars, maybe. Right now Bell isn’t even a lock to be in the majors next season.
They Had Their Chance
The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” exists for a reason, so don’t expect to see any of these elderly Angels riding into the twilight of their career as an All-Star.
Joel Pineiro – He had his shot in 2009 after Dave Duncan worked his magic on him, but it still wasn’t good enough and that was probably as good as he will ever be.
Scott Downs – I actually thought he might have been more deserving of making the All-Star squad over Jordan Walden this year, but it wasn’t meant to be. At age 35, the All-Star selection process seems to have passed him by even though he remains one of the top lefty setup men in all of baseball.
Russell Branyan – Branyan has been on half the teams in the league, but he won’t ever be on an All-Star team unless they create a special “journeyman” roster spot.
Hisanori Takahashi – Lefty specialists sometimes get named All-Stars, but usually those lefty specialists can actually get lefties out. Sorry, Taka.
Fernando Rodney – The only way he makes an All-Star team is if some bad team gets fooled into signing him to be their closer this off-season and he ends up racking up a bunch of first half saves by sheer chance. I doubt that will happen though since the Angels are usually the only ones dumb enough to fall for that.
Consider this the model that Howie Kendrick followed: start out with a solid career and then ride a hot start to the season into an All-Star selection at a this position.
Erick Aybar – Back during his hot streak in June, I actually thought Aybar had a real shot at making the team. He seems to be on a career upswing and if he can gain some attention for his improve basestealing (18 so far this season) and get his average over .300, he could make the team as a reserve, especially if fans finally realize Derek Jeter is washed up and stop voting for him.
Alberto Callaspo – This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Third base is incredibly thin in the league right now. If Callaspo can start a season with a .320 average or something, he might be able to finagle his way into the game. If Placido Polanco can do it, why can’t Callaspo?
Maicer Izturis – Izturis might actually be able to get in on his own merits, but that is only going to happen if he can ever find a permanent starting job and I don’t see that happening, at least not as an Angel.
Rich Thompson – I don’t think he’ll ever be the Angel closer, but he does have the ability to rack up huge strikeout numbers and a nice ERA, something that has gotten middle relievers into the All-Star game before. However, he could take the Kevin Gregg route and leave Anaheim to become a mediocre closer for a non-contender and try and parlay that into one of those “well, someone from the Astros needs to be named to the team” selections.
Young But Flawed
This group still has plenty of time ahead of them to elevate their games to All-Star levels, but their ceilings are limited due to holes in their game that could also put a damper on their All-Star candidacy.
Michael Kohn – See everything I just said about Rich Thompson, but add more upside and subtract the Australian fan vote.
Mark Trumbo – Many questions remain as to whether Trumbo can hit for average consistently enough or draw enough walks to not wind up in a platoon role, but his massive power is not in question at all. If there is one thing fans will vote for, it is a guy who can hit a bunch of homers a long, long, long way. Who care if he hits .235? Fans might go bonkers and vote for him if he ever makes good on his power projection and bases 40+ homers in a season.
Peter Bourjos – Bourjos is becoming a fan favorite thanks to his blazing speed, but that isn’t something that casual fans can see in a stat line. What could convince them though is if he can use that blazing speed to make himself a regular fixture on Web Gems for his outstanding defense. That seems unlikely though since he is so fast that he ends up making most catches easily even though lesser players would have to dive for them.
Place Your Bets
Finally, we get to the leaders in the clubhouse. If any of these Halos don’t make an All-Star team in their career, then they’d probably be considered to have failed in their careers.
Hank Conger – He might be a stretch for this category, but catchers that can hit for average and power almost always find a way to earn at least one All-Star berth. Conger isn’t hitting much now, but he will someday and he will wind up an All-Star.
Mike Trout – The question isn’t if Trout will make an All-Star team, the question is how many will he make? I know that may sound presumptive, but he has too many tools and his makeup is too good for him to not develop into a legit All-Star. Plus, Angel fans are so hyped for him, I’m pretty sure they would have voted him onto this year’s team if he had been on the ballot.
Kendrys Morales – Forgot about him, eh? I almost did too. He should have made the All-Star team during his breakout year and I deeply want to believe that he has more of those kind of seasons left in him, even if his leg is held together with staples and rubber cement at this point.