The other night, I was watching a re-run of the 1995 All-Star Game on MLB Network and one thing struck me. A lot of the players in that game (or at least the part I watched) were players that I remember but not ones that ever struck me as being really great players. With players such as Carlos Perez, Heathcliff Slocumb, Mickey Morandini and Steve Ontiveros the phrase that continually popped into my head was "he played in an all-star game", it got me thinking about which players in this years all-star game will be players that will have fans wondering to themselves 10-15 years from now "he was an all-star"
1) Ryan Franklin: 53-67 4.09 ERA 106 ERA+
Franklin became an all-star for the first time at age 36 and with one look at his career, it is easy to say why. He was a slightly above average starter in Seattle who was serviceable but never great. He was a solid middle reliever until last year when he starting closing.
One indicator of this is while he's putting up ridiculous numbers, he has gone fairly unnoticed. Dude has a sub 1 ERA, a .794 WHIP and is giving up 5.3 hits/9 innings and even then I didn't even notice until a couple weeks ago.
Point being is that all of these stats are stratospheric in the context of his career work and he's bound to regress to something closer to his career average (which isn't bad but isn't eye-popping) either this year or next. I think he'll still pitch well the rest of the year but I don't feel he'll do enough the rest of his career for him to be remembered as a star.....(one great season is nice but when the pitcher with the most similar stats is Elmer Dessens, not too many people will remember you.
2) Yadier Molina- .265/.321/.363 79 OPS+ Career
I wouldn't be suprised if Molina is still catching 15 years from now, I just don't think people will remember him as an all-star. Looking into the future, his legacy his likely more connected to his defense (he is a Molina after all) but he hasn't done enough with the bat to guarantee further all-star trips. This year he has a 96 OPS+ batting (career high) and he's likely to peak out as an average hitter. He'll have a nice career, win some gold gloves, play some good D, I just don't think he'll do enough to be an elite player. His most similar player at this age is B.J. Surhoff.... he managed to hit for some power later in his career but that was from 1995-2001 when just about everyone hit for power.....in other words, I find it unlikely Molina will ever be that great with the bat
3) Jason Bartlett- .286/.345/.386 93 OPS+ Career
The AL-shortstop equivalent to Molina. He's always been a solid player with the glove and to have on the team and prior to this year had never quite cracked the 100 OPS+ threshold. Bartlett has a better chance since he's been a better hitter over the course of his career and he's having a career year at the plate this year. Even if his power stays at his current rate (best case scenario), he's most likely going to be overshadowed, under-rated and not remembered as an all-star. His most similar player is David Eckstein.....a player known more for being gritty(whatever that means) and being 5'6''....even there Bartlett will be overshadowed since Eckstein already has that market cornered on grittiness and Bartlett is 6'0''
4) Orlando Hudson- .282/.347/.432 99 OPS+ Career
Solid player....still mildly surprised he went yard twice the other day. That aside, he's seems to have settled into a groove of being a slightly above average hitter in most respects. Since he's 31, I don't really see him taking it to the next level. Hudson is more likely to be remembered more for his defense than being an all-star (sorta like Molina and Bartlett only with more pop in the bat)....his most similar hitter is Carlos Guillen (who is a 3-time all star) he at least has a better argument than the first three but still there isn't anything about him that screams All-Star
5) Shane Victorino- .286/.348/.424 OPS 99+ Career
Similar player to Hudson. I'll probably still remember him for that grand slam he hit off of Sabathia in the playoffs next year.....but it's more likely that his name will be overshadowed by other members of the Phils (i.e. Howard, Utley, Hamels, Rollins, etc.)
It's a stretch that he's even an all-star this year since he didn't get in until the 33rd man vote. Also out of the five players on the ballot, the only player he was more deserving than was Christian Guzman.....but hey that's what the people want.
His most similar player is Bernard Gilkey (who never was an all star, had one abnormal season where he hit 30 homers in 1996, and was done by 34) I think Victorino will have a better career than him but not enough to be remembered as a star.
Note: Career Stats and Similar Player Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com