Underground Reds All Stars

Scott Rolen started the All Star Game. Last year.

Joey Votto, the top vote-getter in the NL, is headed to Kansas City to start the All Star Game. Johnny Cueto should also be a lock to make the team, though if he isn't voted in by the players he'll be at the mercy of NL Manager Tony LaRussa. Who knows what LaRussa is capable of, now that he's behind the shield of retirement. That's when men really stop caring about what anyone thinks - and TLR was mostly there already.

Aroldis Chapman and Brandon Phillips are deserving, but I could see either of them losing out to the "every team gets a bid" system, counting stats or favoritism. Chapman leads relievers in fWAR, K-rate and is second in FIP, but he's dropped to 10th in ERA, while he's split saves with Sean Marshall.

Phillips has a stronger case for traditionalists. He's second in HR, 1st in RBI and 3rd in AVG at his position, while being tied for second in WAR at 2B, 4th in wRC+. HIs fellow players would probably concede he's the best regular defensive 2B in the NL. But he's missed some time and there's the TLR vendetta factor to consider for him too.

If all four make it, it will be the third year in a row the Reds have sent that number to the Mid-Summer Night Dream.

All the Reds in play for an All Star nod this season are "star players" on some level and part of the Reds' core. There have been, however, a number of baffling or otherwise forgotten Reds selections in history,either for the season or career the player ended up having (or both). Maybe that's not surprising for an event that's based on incomplete information and has never really seemed happy with its voting system.

I now think that I'm "cool" for being into these obscure players. I have shirt that is pale blue and has a misshapen pencil drawing of a humanoid on it with the words "Eddie Kasko" barely coming out of his mouth. You should too.

Lew Riggs, 1936

BBREF page

Riggs played in a different era. An era in which there was a guy named Rip on the AL All Star Team and Ripper on the NL team. There was also Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Mel Ott. Riggs, a 3B, ended up compiling a .257/.314/.372 line in '36, though I guess he was batting .300 through early May? He somehow had an 89 OPS+ too (28th in the NL), but I doubt that was a factor. Frankie Frisch was too old and Stan Hack was too injured.

Bert Haas, 1947

BBREF page

Haas, mostly an OF, was another one-Star wonder. He was batting in the .330s-.340s through July, but fell off steadily after the All Star Break, landing at .286/.346/.369 at season's end. Though he was a light-hitting OF who was in and out of the majors throughout his career, there is something to be said for recognizing a player - who would not be recognized otherwise - for finding three good months.

Eddie Kasko, 1961

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Kasko was a short stop who wore glasses, which is about the nerdiest kind of athlete you can be this side of Greg Maddux. He took a .300 average into late June '61, then fell off a cliff. He joined Ernie Banks and Maury Wills as the NL short stop corps.

Sammy Ellis, 1965

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Ellis, a Youngstown, OH-born pitcher, had a very promising start to his career, attracting MVP votes in his first full(ish) season in 1964. He was good in 1965 too, but he's mostly pasted in here because his career was over by age 28. He also lead the league in earned runs the year he made the All Star team - which, I never really considered, basically doesn't mean anything. Bob Gibson was fourth. Ellis was a pitching coach in the majors as recently at 2000, with the Orioles.

Mike LaCoss, 1979

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An inveterate Californian, LaCoss was taken in the third round of the '74 draft by the Reds. He put together a respectable career, spending the latter half of his career pitching as a competent reliever and starter for the Giants. He's an indie All Star because not only was '79 his only appearance, he also somehow had a strikeout rate lower than his walk rate that season: 3.5/3.2. That's kind of weird, right?

His selection was a good marker for the very outer limits of the Big Red Machine Era. He was the first non-Seaver/non-BRM Reds All Star since the early 70s. LaCoss hit one of his two career HRs off Tom Browning.

Felipe Lopez, 2005

BBREF

FeLo was a deserving pick in 2005, at least offensively. By most measures, he was the best short stop bat in the National League. His Age 25 season ended up being the high water mark of his career, as he later drifted away from SS and below league average at the plate.

A true three-sport star and polymath, Felipe Lopez was also an Olympic archer, played NBA basketball and traveled back in time to be the president of Paraguay. I don't know what "disambiguation" means.

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