Pitchers dropping out of the All-Star Game is all the rage in recent years, with many pitchers making up (or at least exaggerating) injuries to get out of having an additional 10-20 pitches added to their yearly workload.
The Indians Danny Salazar was among a large, and extremely accomplished, group to bow out this year which forced us to watch a relatively disappointing group of pitchers take the mound in San Diego.
Fortunately for Tribe fans, however, Corey Kluber was among those who elected to participate. And I say fortunately, because there is absolutely no evidence that pitching in the All-Star Game has any effect on second-half performance.
I haven’t be able to dig up any concrete data on second-half performance from pitchers who appeared in the All-Star Game—probably because it’s such a silly idea no ones really bothered to put in the effort to debunk the nonsensical myth. But FiveThirtyEight did recently tear apart the related myth that participating the Home Run Derby could hurt a slugger’s second-half output.
For a small sample to prove the point, take a look at the most recent Indians starters to pitch in the All-Star Game:
Obviously there are two pitchers who clearly dropped off in the second half, but there is a far more reasonable explanation for their decline than their All-Star participation.
Bartolo Colon was 25 years old in 1998 and CC Sabathia was just 23 in 2004. It’s much easier to believe that these young pitchers were still adjusting to the workload of a full major league season. In fact, the previous season in 2003, Sabathia’s ERA also rose by nearly a full run after the break—in a year in which he was selected to the game but didn’t pitch.
So should we be at all worried about the 13 pitches Kluber threw on Tuesday night?
We shouldn’t be worried about it if Kluber were 22 and we certainly shouldn’t be worried about him at the age of 30. Each of the other veterans on the list maintained their success and there’s no reason to think Kluber’s second-half performance will be any difference.