The Red Sox are probably the best team in the majors, so it shouldn't be all that surprising that they've got six All-Stars. It's the identity of one of them that's a bit of a surprise. Red Sox Monster: Wakefield
- The good news is that Major League Baseball announced its 2009 All-Star selections today, and six members of the Boston Red Sox were named to the team. Even better, the list includes Tim Wakefield, 42, who becomes the second oldest player ever to make the All-Star team for the first time (The first? The legendary Satchel Paige).
On the weekend when Wakefield started his 383rd game with the Red Sox (breaking Roger Clemens' team record), Timmay was chosen for an All-Star game over Jeff Weaver, Kevin Milwood and dozens of other pitchers in the AL.
Should he have been? In a normal year, there are plenty of folks who would point to Wakefield's miniscule strikeout numbers (53 in 102 2/3 innings) and his relatively high ERA (4.30) and call him a fluke.
But flukes don't last nearly two decades in the major leagues, nearly pitch the 2003 Red Sox to an American League Championship Series win or swing back and forth between starting and relief as needs dictate. They also don't tie for the league lead in wins (10) or carry the Red Sox during the month of April, when everyone from Josh Beckett to Jon Lester to Daisuke Matsuzaka all nuked leads with [regularity].
So, in a word, it's time.
With apologies to Weaver and Millwood, Wakefield has earned this spot and all the national recognition that goes with it.
Is the All-Star Game the place for Lifetime Achievement Awards?
Oh, I don't know. There's certainly a precedent for future Hall of Famers; Ozzie Smith somehow garnered that honor three times. I think it's not a bad idea for a player who might have deserved All-Star nods over the years but somehow never got one. Tim Wakefield, though? Has he ever been great? Ever deserved to be an All-Star?
Wakefield's best seasons were a long time ago: 1992, his first season in the majors; and 1995, his first season with the Red Sox.
In 1992, he didn't debut in the majors (with the Pirates) until after the All-Star Game. In 1995, he didn't debut with the Red Sox until late May because he'd opened the season in the International League. Thus, at the All-Star break in 1995, Wakefield was 7-1 with a 1.61 ERA but he'd started only 10 games. Looking at his other seasons, it's possible that he had All-Star-worthy stats at some point, but pretty unlikely.
And this season? He's tied for the American League lead with 10 wins, but ranks just 28th in ERA, 19th in innings, and 40th in strikeouts. It's pretty hard to argue that he's been one of the dozen best starters in the league. Or two-dozen best.
All of which leaves me thoughtful but unwavering: I want to see Tim Wakefield pitch in the All-Star Game. He's a good guy, and historically unique, and I've been avidly following the ups and downs of his career since he arrived in the majors 17 years ago. I think an All-Star Game that has room for Tim Wakefield is a better All-Star Game. Even if it does count.