Since the inception of the All-Star Game in 1933, 109 different players have been selected to the game as a member of the Cleveland Indians, and countless of former Indians made the team wearing other uniforms.
But as Brantley and others are honored tonight, let’s take some time to honor a few former Indians who never made the trip to the Midsummer Classic.
10. Duke Sims
It doesn’t take much to make the All-Star team as a catcher, especially if you have power. But Sims career was simply too brief and his best years came with the wrong club. Sims actually had a pretty strong case for an All-Star selection in 1968, with a .268 average, .389 OBP and 9 home runs. Unfortunately for Sims, although he started nearly game, he was platooning at catcher and first and filling in for an injured Joe Azcue at times. Oddly enough, Azcue, who played 20 fewer games than Sims and with lesser overall stats, was selected as a reserve catcher for the AL squad.
As a 1990s first baseman with mediocre power, Sorrento never had a shot. But he was always a productive player with a career on-pace percentage of .340 in Cleveland. His best shot at an All-Star Game came in 1997 as a member of the Mariners when he entered the break with a .281 average and 17 home runs.
8. Eric Plunk
If Plunk were playing today, he may have had a shot, but in the 1990s setup men had no chance of playing in the Midsummer Classic. Plunk’s best first half was probably 1994, when he went 7-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 8.8 K per 9—stats which would have put him in the conversation in this era. To this day, Plunk still holds the franchise record for career relief appearances.
7. Casey Blake
Blake was never really a serious contender for the All-Star Game, but his career consistency earns him a spot on the list. His best chance came in 2006 when he entered the break with a .304 average and a .388 OBP. But with just 10 home runs at the break that year, Blake fell well short of the outfield All-Star standards.
6. Woodie Held
Held’s career numbers don’t look like much these days, but considering fans’ obsession with power numbers it’s surprising that he was never selected for the game. In 1959, Held set the major league record with 22 home runs as a shortstop and by 1962, at the age of 30, he was second only to PeeWee Reese on the all-time home runs list for shortstops.
As I’ve referenced in other posts in the past, Candiotti’s Tribe career was pretty impressive in hindsight. He posted an ERA+ over 125 in three of his six seasons in Cleveland. If you think Kluber got snubbed this year, check out Candiotti’s situation from 1991. With a 2.23 ERA in 17 starts (6th best in all of baseball), Candiotti was left off the roster. Meanwhile, due to postseason heroics which almost got him into the Hall of Fame, some guy named Morris started the game for the AL—with the 43rd best ERA in baseball at 3.65.
4. Luke Easter
It was tough to find the right spot for Easter, who undoubtedly would have been an All-Star if not for spending the majority of his days in the Negro Leagues. In his only three full seasons in the majors, Easter topped 25 home runs every year and posted top 100-RBI seasons.
Choo could still remove himself from this list, but at the age of 31 he’s running out of time. Outfield is arguably the toughest position to make the roster, and Choo’s lack of power makes it tough for him to stand out. He may have missed his best chance in 2009, when he entered the break with 13 home runs and a .403 on-base percentage.
Pronk suffered from the curse of the DH. It’s rare for more than one to make the roster, and Big Papi took up that spot during Hafner’s best seasons. That said, it’s a crime that his .322 average, 25 home runs and .462 on-base percentage didn’t get him into the game in 2006. But White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen decided to take SEVEN!! of his players (with all seven making the team as reserves), including first baseman Paul Konerko who had fewer home runs, a lower average and a lower on-base percentage than Hafner.
1. Hal Trosky
Trosky is arguably the most underappreciated player in franchise history. His peak was brief, but it rivaled the best players to ever wear an Indians uniform. Trosky’s 216 home runs in Cleveland (pretty cool number to end his Tribe career on, huh?) are the most by a non-All-Star in team history. In today’s era of expanded rosters, Trosky would have been a shoo-in for multiple appearances, but since he debuted the same year as the game and never played in the spotlight of the postseason, he missed out.