Today we toast the All-Stars, the Major League Baseball players deemed most talented, most productive and most popular. But before we get to the national anthem and those two long rows of players stretching down the baselines, let’s remember the Also-Rans, too. Some of them are pretty damn good.
A lot of worthy throwers and hitters have toiled for years without cracking an All-Star roster, including plenty in San Francisco and Oakland. Pretending I’m some combination of Dick Williams, Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy, here are my ballots for the All-Time Bay Area Non-All-Star team — the best of the slighted.
One quick note: Eligibility is based purely on time with the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s. Seasons before those teams moved from New York and Kansas City are discounted, as are All-Star appearances with other franchises.
Here are your starters:
CATCHER: Kurt Suzuki, A’s, 2007-2012
Catcher was a tough position to fill out, because just about every middling Giants backstop of the past 50 years — Tom Haller, Dick Dietz, Bob Brenly — managed to get himself on an All-Star team. Not so for Suzuki, who solid behind the plate and with the bat, while laboring for some fairly awful Oakland teams. In 2008, for example, he hit .274 with 15 home runs and 88 RBIs. But he wasn’t an All-Star until representing the Twins in 2014.
FIRST BASE: J.T. Snow, Giants, 1997-2005, 2008
Here’s your proof that All-Star bids aren’t handed out for defense. Snow was a magician with a first baseman’s mitt, winning six Gold Gove awards (two with the Angels). He had 104 RBIs in his first year with the Giants, and twice more knocked in 95-plus. And he saved Darren Baker, Dusty’s son and now a ballplayer at Cal, from the speeding David Bell at home plate in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.
SECOND BASE: Mark Ellis, A’s, 2002-2011
Man, this guy was solid. He was eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2002. He hit .315 and had an OPS of .861 in 2005. He logged 19 homers and 76 RBIs in 2007, and stole 14 bases in 2008. All while playing reliable second base. None of it was good enough to make Ellis an All-Star.
SHORTSTOP: Mike Bordick, A’s, 1990-96
It’s not too surprising that Bordick never was voted an All-Star; he didn’t have that kind of glamor. But A’s fans remember him as a spooky clutch hitter as his team transitioned from World Series contender to flopper. In 1992, Bordick had a batting average of .300 and an on-base percentage of .358, and got a couple of MVP votes. But he wasn’t an All-Star until he repped the Orioles in 1998.
THIRD BASE: Eric Chavez, A’s, 1998-2010
That’s right, Eric Chavez never made an All-Star roster. The dude won six consecutive Gold Gloves (2001-06), mostly for playoff teams. He went above 25 home runs six consecutive years (2000-05) and four times eclipsed 100 RBIs, with a high of 114 in 2001. That said, Chavez never fulfilled his vast promise in Oakland, and his All-Star shutout is a reminder of that.
LEFT FIELD: Bill North, A’s, 1973-78; Giants, 1979-1981