MLB All-Star Game 2013: The first-time all-stars

Greg Fiume

This year's mid-summer classic is stuffed with first-time all-stars.

There are 39 first-time All-Stars this year. That's an astounding number, especially considering that there are up-and-coming young stars you probably think of first -- Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Aroldis Chapman -- who aren't among them, having sneaked on as first-timers last season.

By my count (from this), that's three more first-time all-stars than we had in 1933, the first All-Star Game (so, that is, three more than 1933's entire combined rosters). There are 77 players on both rosters in 2013, and almost exactly half of them have never been there before.

It's got to be particularly exciting for those fresh-faced 39. It has to feel like the start or something (or maybe the culmination of something, but one that's going to last for a while). Except, of course, it's at least as likely (and probably more likely) to be a one-and-only. About 1,720 different players had ever been selected to the All-Star Game through 2012, but only 762 players had ever played in more than one of them. Some will keep coming back for years, some have at least one or two more in them, but at least half of the 39 new guys (or half of however many of those actually get into the game in the first place) are about to have their one and only moment in this particular sun.

Here's the full list, in the order in which they appear here, with -- just for fun and maybe some debate, on the second-slowest baseball day of the summer -- some commentary and a completely baseless guess as to each player's chance of returning to another All-Star Game:

Chris Davis: over the 365-day period ending Sunday, Davis hit .298/.373/.648 with 56 home runs in 159 games. Thanks to some highly energetic Oriole-fan participation, he was baseball's leading vote-getter, and got more than twice as many votes as any other first baseman -- he's only 27. There are a number of ways he could fail to make it back (Josh Hamilton was last year's leading vote-getter); it's just not likely. 90%.

Grant Balfour: a 35-year-old relief pitcher who's been good for years, but is here only because luck and circumstances have given him 25 of his 59 career saves this season and a 1.67 ERA. There's no reason that couldn't happen again, but that's the basic line of thinking that leads so many people to buy lottery tickets. 10%.

Brett Cecil: He's 27 and seems to have found a home in the bullpen, striking out nearly 11 per nine innings. Still, though, he's a middle reliever, and there's not much in life that seems more random than the handful of good middle relievers that make the All-Star Game each year. 20%.

Jesse Crain: The 32-year-old has been brilliant in 2013, but probably more brilliant than he can sustain. See above regarding middle relievers. 15%.

Steve Delabar: There's so much I don't understand about the Final Vote this year. Why did the AL present a choice among five right-handed relievers? Why did Delabar, a nearly 30-year-old journeyman who's walked nearly five per nine, win? I hope he has just a fantastic time. 5%.

Hisashi Iwakuma: 32, but a starting pitcher, and one who, while he's struggled just a bit lately, has shown signs of being a really good one. The Mariners are likely to be better over the next few years than they are now, keeping his wins up and his ERA low. 60%.

Greg Holland: He's basically a slightly older, American-League Craig Kimbrel, and he's already entrenched as a closer for a team that tends to play a lot of tight games and is without a lot of other compelling candidates. He'll probably be back. 80%.

Justin Masterson: First first-timer that surprised me; already solid top-of-the-rotation starter for a team that's getting better. 70%.

Matt Moore: 100%, if he stays healthy. He's awfully lucky to be there this year, but he just turned 24 and should have a bunch more ahead of him. 70%.

Glen Perkins: Another established closer, keeps getting better and better; but downgrading his chances from Holland because he's two years older. 65%.

Max Scherzer: Certainly one of the most talented pitchers in the game right now. I'd worry about the Tigers defense and the comparisons to Justin Verlander, but he's about to turn 29; he'll make it in one of the next five years or so. 80%.

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Tillman: On the plus side, Tillman is still young and was a top prospect a few years ago; on the minus, his ERA is near four and FIP says it should be near five; he's here only because the Orioles' offense has permitted him to "win" 11 games to date while "losing" only three. 40%.

Jason Castro: Castro, a former first-round pick, has hit .264/.333/.442 (111 OPS+) in 620 plate appearances since resurfacing in the majors in 2012. He's 26 and should have another few years as one of the four or so best catchers in the league, if he can stay healthy. 50%.

Edwin Encarnacion: Since the start of 2012: .274/.372/.549 (146 OPS+), 67 HR in 1,039 PA. He's been around forever, but is just 30. He has to have at least one more appearance in him, right? 75%.

Alex Gordon: If you're a manager, and you don't look at things like WAR or wRC+, what does Gordon have to recommend him? He's in his third year as one of the better players in the American League (and actually this has been something of an off-year by his 2011-2012 standards), but he doesn't do anything spectacularly well and his batting averages and home run totals have been falling. 50%.

Jason Kipnis: Breaking out in a big way. It'll be tough going for a few years with Cano, Pedroia and maybe Kinsler, but he'll catch and pass them sooner or later. 80%.

Manny Machado: 95 games into his age-20 season, Machado has (by Baseball-Reference's reckoning) been worth five wins. I'm just gonna go ahead and say 100%.

Salvador Perez: I'm not sure what to think of Perez. He's just 23, but hasn't really shown any development over the last three seasons, and in fact is having a bit of an off year with the bat. But he's a good defensive catcher who never strikes out and thus is likely to keep hitting somewhere around .300, which will probably get him on another team or two. 60%.

Madison Bumgarner: Great, and not 24 yet. 90%.

Patrick Corbin: He's the kind of guy who feels like a fluke, and his 11-1 record certainly is, as is some of his 2.35 ERA. But, as Jeff Sullivan points out here, we've been underrating Corbin for quite a while, and it's probably time to stop. He doesn't look like a superstar, but merely-very-good pitchers make all-star teams quite often, especially nowadays. 45%.

Jose Fernandez: Like Matt Moore above, except with more uncertainty built in. He looks amazing, but how certain do you feel right now that Stephen Strasburg will pitch in another All-Star Game? 60%.

Matt Harvey: Maybe the best pitcher in baseball already, where the only thing you really have to account for is the possibility of some totally debilitating injury. 80%.

Jason Grilli: Suddenly became a dominant strikeout pitcher at 35, and is dominating across the board at 36. If we took off a bit for Perkins being 30, we have to take off quite a bit more here. 35%.

Jeff Locke: Could have a good career ahead for himself, but the 8-2, 2.15 is smoke and mirrors. 25%.

Mark Melancon: The Brett Cecil comment could almost be copied and pasted here. 20%.

Sergio Romo: Romo was one of very few generally recognizable middle relievers out there, and now he's a closer. He's been steadily losing strikeouts, though, so it depends on how much farther he has to fall, and how fast he does it. 50%.

Travis Wood: Wood doesn't strike many out, and doesn't get many ground balls; the only real measurable difference between his poor 2012 and his All-Star 2013 is that about half as many of the balls hit in the air off him have left the park. That's probably not sustainable. 25%.

Jordan Zimmermann: 27, and one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball for a couple seasons already. 75%.

Pedro Alvarez: Arbitrary endpoints: from June 1 through July 13, Alvarez hit .314/.381/.657. He's prone to long slumps like the one he started the season with (he had a similar one in 2012), but also capable of looking like one of the best hitters in baseball. I think he'll be an every-other-year all-star type through his early 30s. 85%.

Domonic Brown: Man, I don't know. Do you? He's getting by right now on one ridiculously hot streak (.326/.345/.756 from May 2 to June 8), and from June 9 on he's hit .238/.295/.413, not far off from his pre-2012 career averages (.236/.315/.388 in 492 PA). A bit like Alvarez, but much more extreme and with less of a track record. 50%.

Everth Cabrera: Having a very, very nice year, but suppored by a slightly high batting average on balls in play, and if you take that .290 average away -- if you bump it down to .275 or so -- there's not much besides steals to recommend him to a typical voter or manager. 30%.

Matt Carpenter: Quietly having one of the best seasons in the NL, where (very unlike in the AL) second base is a reasonably weak position. I think he'll be back. 80%.

Allen Craig: Is it possible for anyone to think of Craig and not think "Craig Allen" first? I wonder if he thinks of himself as that sometimes. He's clearly a really, really solid hitter, though he likely doesn't hit enough home runs to be an automatic selection at first base.

Freddie Freeman: Speaking of first basemen with relatively limited home run power, Freeman was the beneficiary of a deeply weird internet voting campaign. He's having a solid year, but he was average or so for the two seasons prior to this one, and I think the competition at first is too tight for him to count on a return visit. Then again, Sean Casey was an all-star three times. 40%.

Paul Goldschmidt: One of the reasons Freeman might have a tough time getting back on the roster: Goldschmidt has established himself as one of the best hitters (and perhaps the best one) in the NL. 90%.

Carlos Gomez: He's hitting .174/.235/.308 in July, but prior to that (and probably continuing after that) Gomez was the story of the year, a light-hitting, defense-first center fielder suddenly driving the ball out of the ballpark. He's still at .288/.331/.516 over the past calendar year, and I think that gap power and his highlight-reel plays will keep him around for awhile. 65%.

Marco Scutaro: Scutaro is a great story, making the team for the first time at age 37. I hope he takes a lot of pictures. 10%.

Jean Segura: He's not only hitting for average and stealing bases, but he's hitting for a surprising amount of power too, and it's looked legit. Maybe the best shortstop in baseball for the first half of 2013 80%.

Edward Mujica: Saves! An unsustainably low ERA! Stop me if you've heard this one before. Mujica doesn't have the gaudy strikeout rates the others above do, so he'll be depending on a similar confluence of factors -- plenty of saves and a probably-artificially-low ERA -- to make it back. He gets a better chance than Balfour, only because he's younger. 25%.

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