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A look back at Cleveland Indians in the All-Star Game

Jason Kipnis will be the lone Tribe representative at the All- Star Game this week. And through the years, the Tribe has been represented. Sometimes well, and sometimes not so much. But there was also a time when this game didn’t exist.

The lone Tribe All-Star representative, Jason Kipnis
The lone Tribe All-Star representative, Jason Kipnis
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

More than Halfway through this current decade, the Indians have had nine players in the six All-Star Games, with Jason Kipnis being the lone Cleveland representative this year, after Michael Brantley was the only representative last year.

As a child of the 70's and 80's, this is nothing new to me. I experienced many years of the Tribe sending just one player to the game, with that one player sometimes there only because of the rule. Here is a brief summation of each decade:

Years

Hitters/Started

Pitchers/Started

Total/Played in Game

2010-2014

4/1

4/0

8/5

2000-2009

14/3

7/1

21/17

1990-1999

29/14

8/1

37/33

1980-1989

8/1

7/0

15/11

1970-1979

5/0

10/1

15/11

1960-1969

17/6

18/1

35/22

1950-1959

26/10

18/0

44/36

1940-1949

31/12

13/2

44/25

1933-1939

8/4

9/0

17/12

Totals

142/51

94/6

236/172

* Note: There were two games from 1959 to 1962

It is no surprise that the 90's dominates this list. And the numbers from the 40's and 50's are a bit skewed as well since there were only 8 teams in the AL at the time. But I was surprised the 50's squads didn't have more than the 40's, as those 50's teams were the second best team in baseball. (Damn Yankees.)

As noted above, the All-Star Game didn't begin until 1933. It was originally intended to be a onetime thing as the brainchild of Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune. It was to be held that year because the World's Fair was being hosted that summer in Chicago. Obviously baseball changed its mind, and made the ASG permanent.

What would have happened had there always been a Midsummer Classic? How would the Tribe have in their representation during earlier years?

Thankfully our friends at SABR also asked this question. They took the midseason stats for each team from 1916 to 1932 and replicated the fan vote (by SABR members) and then picked reserves. Then with those rosters, they simulated the game on an Out of the Park 14 simulator and published the results on Seamheads.com.

The first two years (1916-1917) were established as a best-of-three based on a suggestion of F.C. Lane from Baseball Magazine during the 1915 offseason. The 1918 game was cancelled due to World War I. Then in 1919, they resumed the All-Star Game with just a single game. I will summarize the Indians players named to the rosters and perhaps some misses by the voting. I will skip the actual simulated results, but you may follow the links to each game through the link above.

Year

Starter

Reserves

Notes

1916

Tris Speaker-CF

Bill Wambsganss-2B

Guy Morton-SP

Morton picked to start game 3

1917

Ray Chapman-SS

Bill Wambsganss-2B

Jim Bagby-SP

Tris Speaker-CF

Bagby picked to start game 3

Braggo Roth-RF

Stan Coveleski-SP

1918

No game

1919

Steve O'Neill-C

Bill Wambsganss-2B

Ray Chapman-SS

injured

Elmer Smith-RF

Replacement for Braggo Roth

1920

Ray Chapman-SS

Tris Speaker-CF

Steve O'Neill-C

Stan Coveleski-SP

1921

Larry Gardner-3B

Duster Mails-SP

Joe Sewell-SS

Speaker started for injured Ty Cobb

1922

Joe Sewell-SS

Larry Gardner-3B

Gardner started for injured Frank Baker

Riggs Stephenson-3B

1923

Joe Sewell-SS

Stan Coveleski-SP

Tris Speaker-CF

Charlie Jamieson-LF

1924

Joe Sewell-SS

Glenn Myatt-C

1925

Joe Sewell-SS

Tris Speaker-CF

Glenn Myatt-C

1926

Joe Sewell-SS

George Uhle-SP

1927

Joe Sewell-SS

1928

Joe Sewell-SS

Lew Fonseca-1B

Luke Sewell-C

1929

Joe Sewell-SS

Earl Averill-CF

1930

Johnny Hodapp-2B

Earl Averill-CF

1931

Earl Averill-CF

Wes Ferrell-SP

1932

Earl Averill-CF

Dick Porter-RF

Wes Ferrell-SP

In 1921, the game was awarded (by SABR at least) to Cleveland, and the game was played at Dunn Field.

Based on the team results, I think the Indians got a pretty fair shake overall. In 1916, only Speaker had an OPS over 800 at the break. Stan Coveleski had a good first half, but in those days a 2.61 ERA was closer to league average than dominant. 1917 looks like the right guys were selected. If the 1918 game had been played, I would have chosen Speaker and Wambsganss again, with Coveleski on the staff as well. Both Coveleski and Bagby had arguments for 1919 too.

Elmer Smith was sort of robbed in 1921, but he and Jack Tobin of the St. Louis Browns had similar numbers. And Coveleski would have been a better choice than Mails in 1921. In 1922, Speaker was left off even though he had a 1031 OPS at the break. This was because the Athletics needed a rep and Bing Miller actually had 13 homers at the break and a 1026 of his own. Jamieson had an argument for 1924, but was not a deal breaker.

George Burns was snubbed in 1925 in favor of Earl Sheely of the White Sox. But he was snubbed for worse to Phil Todt of the Red Sox (906 OPS to 819 OPS). Burns had another fine first half in 1927, but it is hard to beat out Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig and George Sisler. Fonseca had the same issue in 1929, but this time it was Jimmie Foxx and Gehrig blocking him.

Heck, first base was just so deep in this timeframe, that Ed Morgan and his 984 OPS also was left off for Gehrig and Foxx in 1930. Wes Ferrell was an interesting choice in 1931 considering he had 4.21 ERA. And yet again, Morgan and his 1065 OPS was left off. This time it was a numbers game as Lu Blue and his 842 OPS ended up being the lone White Sox rep. In 1932, Porter got the selection, but Joe Vosmik in LF (833 OPS) was likely a better choice.

All in all, the Tribe dominated at shortstop and center field in this timeframe and would have had the distinction to have the first brother combination (Joe and Luke Sewell) play in the same game.