As I was writing up my article of the “2010 MLB All Star Team Snafus and Snubs”, I could not believe how Atlanta Brave’s utility infielder Omar Infante got onto the All Star team. So I decided I wanted to research a bit more about the player some are calling the worst All Star player selection in All Star history.
Let’s first look at the base statistics for Omar Infante. If he had enough at bats to qualify for the batting crown, he would be tied for 6th in the NL in batting average. That’s not bad, and I have a belief this is what Charlie Manuel and the Commissioner’s Office saw to put him on the All Star team. However, his OPS tells a completely different story. He’s currently hitting .309/.341/.376 giving him a .717 OPS. If he qualified, his OPS would rank 8th amongst second basemen, 13th amongst third baseman, and 6th amongst shortstops. His OPS+ is 95, putting him just below league average. He has hit only 1 home run all year. This is hardly the resume of an All Star.
There’s many things that could have been argued to be more lenient towards the Omar Infante situation. For example, even though he plays a lot of positions, perhaps it’s unfair to call him a utility player. Perhaps he’s just playing different positions based on the Brave’s current needs. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Omar Infante has played in 57 games total out of the Braves present 82 games. He has played 21 games at third base, 16 at shortstop, 12 in the outfield, and 6 times at first base. He has been a starter at those positions only 35 times. That’s less than half the games the Braves have played. If Omar Infante had been on the DL, there might be some leniency towards his lack of starts. However, this is not the case. He has not been on the DL at all according to transaction reports. By most definitions, he’s simply a utility player.
If Omar Infante had been a star player in previous years, one might argue that his All Star selection was due to previous achievements than this year’s achievements. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case either. Omar Infante started his career in 2002 with the Detroit Tigers. In his nine years in the Majors, he has qualified for the league batting title (502 plate appearances) only once, and that was in 2004. He has played in over 100 games twice, the last time in 2005. His career numbers are .267/.312/.390 for a career .702 OPS, with a career OPS+ of 86, putting him well below league average. Unlike Michael Bourn, who is atleast leading the league in stolen bases, Omar Infante never appears to have been a stolen base threat. He presently has 3 stolen bases this year, and a high 13 from 2004.
With the All Star rosters requiring one player per team, some leniency could be given if Omar Infante were really the best candidate from the Atlanta Braves to be on the team. However, he is one of five members of the Atlanta Braves already on the team. Tim Hudson, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, and Martin Prado are already on the All Star team, so there was no need to add him to give the Atlanta Brave’s a player.
At the time of this writing, I can find no evidence that Omar Infante has saved a bus of burning children or found a cure for cancer. It simply boggles my mind how Charlie Manuel and the Commissioner’s Office selected him. I would have had more sympathy for a selection of Armando Gallaraga than Omar Infante for the All Star team. I would have viewed Armando Gallaraga’s selection as a thank you for the dignity he showed the game and the umpires after losing his perfect game.
“ESPN Statistics”, ESPN
“Baseball-Reference.com – Major League Baseball Statistics and History”, Baseball-Reference