The American League released another 2017 All-Star vote update a few days ago, and disappointingly, there are no Rays particularly close to leading their respective positions, despite some very strong starts on the offensive side of things. If we go strictly by fWAR (which, I know, is a shortcut and not perfect) the Rays have a player in the top five at four positions (first base, third base, right field and DH), and another sitting in sixth (shortstop). Despite that, the Rays have only one player in the top five (or top 15 in the outfield) in the All-Star vote.
That one player is Corey Dickerson at DH, who is sitting in fourth place, despite being - by far - the best DH in the league this season.
Now there is a decent chance that Dickerson will be selected by the managers as a reserve when the time comes, but if the fans fail to vote him in and there are simply too many strong options besides Dickerson, he’ll be left on the outside looking in when it comes to the All-Star Game.
If that happens, he would be one of the biggest All-Star snubs in Rays history. Which transitions nicely into our top five list today. Here are the top five most egregious All-Star snubs in Rays history, counting down from five to one.
5) Greg Vaughn, 2000
59 games, .294/.390/.555 slash line, 40/ 14/ 37/ 4 R/HR/RBI/SB
Vaughn was in his first season with the Rays in 2000, and he was fresh off a two-season stretch in which he hit a combined 95 homers and had a pair of fourth-place finish in the National League MVP race, so his first half in 2000 might have looked like a bit of a letdown. In retrospect, Vaughn had an exceptionally strong offensive first half, splitting time between left field and DH and deserved an All-Star appearance.
Vaughn’s home run totals were noticeably depreciated but that was due as much to a switch in stadium as anything else, as his first half slugging percentage in 2000 was actually higher than his 1999 slugging percentage (.535), a season in which he hit 45 homers.
Vaughn had to compete with Edgar Martinez at the DH spot in the AL, while Carl Everett was voted in as the starting left fielder for the junior circuit. Just the first time of many that Everett will deny a deserving Ray in this list. The voters must have loved his anti-dinosaur stance (either that or the fact that he played for the Sawks.)
4) Jeff Niemann, 2010
18 starts, 7-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 117.0 innings
Niemann was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Rookie of the Yea vote, so it’s not as if he was a complete unknown commodity. However, Niemann was seen as no more than the fourth starter in a Rays’ rotation that had David Price, Matt Garza, James Shields, and Wade Davis. Price ended up the starter for the AL that season, and it’s not as if the Rays weren’t well-represented. The team had two other starters in Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford, and closer Rafael Soriano threw in the eighth inning.
The 2010 All-Star Game was arguably the Rays brightest All-Star Game, but it could (and arguably should) have been even better if Niemann (a pitcher who fell off rather quickly after a fast start to his career) had been able to attend the Midsummer Classic. You’re telling me Jose Rosado really deserved a spot over Niemann?
3) Melvin (then B.J.) Upton, 2007
56 games, .320/.396/.545, 36/ 9/ 31/ 13
Upton was just bursting on the scene in 2007, having put together just a pair of seasons with 50 or fewer games before the `07 season in which he finally broke through. The 22-year-old former number two overall pick was showing signs of the five-tool player that he would become for the Rays from 2007-2012.
Upton was going against a deep and talented Al outfield that included teammate Carl Crawford (four ASG), Ichiro (ten ASG), Vladimir Guerrero (nine ASG), Magglio Ordoñez (six ASG), Torii Hunter (five ASG), Grady Sizemore (three ASG), Manny Ramirez (12 ASG), and Alex Rios (two ASG). This group (along with a few others) shut Upton out of the All-Star Game for his entire time as a Ray, and unless Upton has a massive late-career renaissance, he will end his career as one of the better players in MLB history to have never played in an All-Star Game or received a vote for MVP (an honor ESPN’s Sam Miller has taken to tracking and has Nick Markakis as the in-house leader at the moment).
2) Aubrey Huff, 2003
92 games, .304/.361/.539, 49/ 17/ 50/ 1
Huff Daddy had it all going for him in 2003: a batting average over .300, nearly 100 runs and RBI combined before the break (99, to be exact), and 17 homers for the folks who just vote based on long balls. However, the Rays right fielder couldn’t break through to the All-Star Game falling behind Ichiro who got the start in right field, as well as two of the outfielders noted above (Ramirez and Ordoñez).
Those were all understandable, but Huff also lost out on a spot to Carl Everett and Melvin Mora. Mora was indeed having a hot start to the season (.349 BA, 13 HR), but he was such a paper tiger that he hit just .188 with two homers and just three RBI (!) in 21 games after the All-Star Game. As for Everett, his .270/.351/.515 slash line was worse than Huff’s slash line in each of the three percentages, and his 18 homers topped Huff by only one. Everett had a slight edge in runs and RBI but that was only because of his team. But that Red Sox advantage ending up being enough, as the Sox in 2003 were as big as it gets, while the Rays had not yet ascended to lovable contender status just yet.
(This is where Dickerson would rank if he keeps hitting like he is and somehow gets snubbed.)
1) Fred McGriff, 1999
83 games, .319/.412/.581, 47/ 19/ 56/ 1
The Crime Dog was absolutely robbed of an All-Star Game appearance in 1999, so thankfully he was able to make it to five other Midsummer Classics in his career. McGriff was almost certainly deserving of more than five All-Star appearances (he received MVP votes in eight seasons), and 1999 was one of the most egregious shaft jobs in his career.
Jim Thome was voted the starting first baseman for the AL, and that makes sense. He’s an all-time legend who was .283/.434/.516 - not as good as McGriff it must be said, but still solid and he was doing for a Cleveland squad in their prime. Ron Coomer, though. Ron Effing Coomer (that’s his middle name, per Baseball-Reference, I swear).
Coomer was slashing just .282/.312/.458 with worse numbers than McGriff across the board, but because the Twins were in shambles and had no one else to send, he got the nod and left McGriff on the outside looking in. The Rays sent Jose Canseco (who, in all fairness, had 31 homers at the All-Star Break), and the poor Crime Dog had to watch from home, cursing the name Ron Effing Coomer.