Mike Axisa of Eye On Baseball made a terrific All-Star team of players who never made the All-Star team. I always thought Tim Salmon was the best player never to make the team, but Axisa found someone better. Incidentally, a big reason Salmon never made an All-Star team is this:
Over his career, April was by far Salmon's worst month. And April is when "All-Stars" (like Cesar Izturis and Kent Bottenfield) are made.
Anyway, Axisa's greatest non-All-Star is someone who ...
- Played 18 years for six different teams
- Played at least five games at every position except pitcher and catcher
- Reached base at a .374 clip for his career
- Has 50 career Wins Above Replacement
One more hint: His last season (which was pretty danged good) was in 1999.
I'll just tell you. It's Tony Phillips.
Ironically, it was Phillips' versatility that made him so valuable yet also so overlooked. As Bill James has said, anything that "breaks up" a player's career can make him underrated. Splitting time between teams, leagues, and positions can make a player's accomplishments harder to see, harder to make sense of. If Tony Phillips had played his whole career at second base for Oakland (or a team in a bigger market), he might be remembered differently. In the Hall of Underrated, Phillips' plaque will go somewhere between Bobby Abreu and Ben Zobrist.