The Curse of the All-Star Game

Dilip Vishwanat

Everybody wants to be an All-Star, but it's far from a guarantee of second-half success. Just ask Bryan LaHair, and a host of other 2012 All-Stars.

Remember Bryan LaHair, 2012 National League All-Star? Well, Tuesday this happened:

Infielder Bryan LaHair has been designated for assignment, as he and the Cubs are pursuing an opportunity for LaHair with a club in Japan...

A 2012 National League All-Star, LaHair batted .259 (88-for-340) with 16 home runs and 40 RBI in 130 games. He originally signed with the Cubs as a minor league free agent on December 23, 2009 and has combined to bat .263 (105-for-399) with 18 home runs and 46 RBI in 150 games with the Cubs covering two seasons (2011-12).

I'll wager that not many All-Stars get non-tendered just a few months later. But you can't really argue with the move. After the All-Star Game, LaHair started only 25 games -- due to the presence of Anthony Rizzo, and also to his own slump -- and batted just .202/.269/.303 in 119 plate appearances. And he'd been struggling well before the All-Star Game, as LaHair really didn't hit like an every-day first baseman after the middle of May.

But LaHair was hardly the only All-Star who struggled after the break.

- Melky Cabrera, the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player, drew a 50-game suspension and missed the Giants' championship run;

- Rafael Furcal -- granted, a pretty marginal All-Star -- got hurt at the end of August and missed the Cardinals' postseason run, opening the door for rookie Pete Kozma (and leading to the most famous Infield Fly call in major-league history);

- Dan Uggla -- another marginal All-Star -- batted just .217 with seven homers after the break ... which was actually not much worse than what he did before the break; Uggla just isn't nearly as good as he used to be;

- Josh Hamilton was the American League's odds-on MVP candidate in the first half, but lost his grasp of the strike zone in the second half, and finished the campaign as a huge question mark;

- José Bautista got hurt, and played in exactly six games after the All-Star break;

- David Ortíz got hurt, and played in exactly five games after the All-Star break;

- Mike Napoli got hurt, and played in just 34 games after the All-Star break; granted, he did kill the ball when he did play.

And those were just the guys who started the All-Star Game. Plenty of All-Star reserves had their second-half problems, too.

Lance Lynn lost his spot in the Cardinals' rotation in August. San Diego's Huston Street managed only 15 innings after the break. C.J. Wilson posted a 2.43 ERA in the first half, and 5.54 in the second half.

Matt Kemp batted .355 in the first half -- granted, he played in only 36 games -- and .280 in the second. Michael Bourn OPS'd 817 in the first half, and just 636 in the second. Andrew McCutchen went from top MVP candidate to something less impressive. Mark Trumbo ... just, wow. In the first half, Trumbo batted .308/.358/.608; in the second half, his OPS plummeted by 335 points. Adam Dunn batted .208 in the first half, but with a ton of walks and homers; in the second half, he batted .199 without as many walks or homers. Paul Konerko's OPS dropped 150 points in the second half.

What does it all mean? Well, players get hurt. Sometimes badly. Also, when you send guys to the All-Star Game based on what they've done over the course of two or three months, you're going to get some odd-in-hindsight choices. And finally, if you're looking for scapegoats for the White Sox' collapse down the stretch, you can probably start with Dunn and Konerko.

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