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Yankees History: Unexpected All-Stars

With Jose Trevino still bidding for an All-Star spot, let’s look back at some other unlikely Yankees to make a Midsummer Classic.

Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

The best story so far on the 2022 Yankees has almost unquestionably been the emergence of catcher Jose Trevino. A seemingly last-minute addition on April 2nd with fellow offseason catcher acquisition Ben Rortvedt injured, Trevino has grabbed the catching position by the horns, taking over the regular spot behind the plate.

Trevino has done so not only with some good defensive play, but with some impressive performances at the plate, including a couple walk-off hits. In fact, Trevino has been so solid that he ended up as one of the two options in the final voting round for the AL starting catching spot for the 2022 All-Star Game.

From a purely objective perspective, Trevino was probably the lesser choice in his run-off defeat in Phase 2 of the voting to the eventual winner, Toronto receiver Alejandro Kirk. However, that doesn’t make his rise any less remarkable. He’s put up well above average hitting numbers this year after coming into this season with a career 70 OPS+. Thus, Trevino seemingly still has a decent shot at making the AL roster when they’re announced tomorrow. If you had told any Yankee fan that fact on the day they got him, they would’ve been in for a surprise.

In honor of Trevino’s ascent, let’s look back at some other cases of Yankee players seemingly becoming an All-Star out of nowhere.

Based on pure stuff, Ryne Duren always had All-Star potential, but he had yet to show it when the Yankees acquired him in June 1957. He had made his debut back in ‘54, but threw just two innings with the Orioles. Duren then wouldn’t reappear in the majors until ‘57 with the Kansas City Athletics, but didn’t exactly impress. The Yankees got him in a trade that June, but kept him in the minors for the rest of the season.

Duren, whose issue had always been wildness, managed to keep his walks under control with the Yankee-affiliated Denver Bears, and soon found himself in the bigs in 1958. There, he emerged as a bullpen weapon for the Yankees during a championship season. Through the All-Star break, he put up a 1.33 ERA in 40.2 innings, having struck out 55 batters. That got him a spot in Baltimore for the All-Star Game, where he would not pitch in a 4-3 win for the American League.

On one hand, it’s not shocking that a guy in his third season started to put things together and became an All-Star. On the other hand, Duren turned 29 during the ‘58 campaign. He had spent a long time in the minors, and even when he made it to the bigs with the O’s and A’s, he only posted a 73 ERA+. If a team besides the Yankees pick him up, maybe he never figures out how to control his wildness and those two stints end up being his only ones. Duren did have two more All-Star seasons (one which very much should not have been), but his final career numbers aren’t exactly dominant. Take out his ‘58 and ‘59 seasons and it would’ve been impossible to imagine that he could’ve reached an All-Star level.

Another that would’ve been difficult to predict for different reasons was Joe Page’s first appearance in 1944.

New York Yankees
Joe Page
Photo by The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images

Page went on to make three appearances at the Midsummer Classic in his very solid career, mostly out of the bullpen. In retrospect, he should’ve made the team in 1949, a year he ended up finish third in MVP voting. However, he maybe shouldn’t have made it in his rookie season in ‘44.

To be fair, Page started his career in impressive fashion. Through June 4th, he had a 2.07 ERA in eight starts, four of which were complete games, including an 11-inning victory. However, he fell off a cliff between then and the All-Star Game, putting up a 9.11 ERA and got knocked out in the first inning in three different starts. His overall ERA through the break was 4.07, half a run worse than the MLB average of 3.57 in ‘44.

However, likely on the back of his hot start, Page got named to the AL All-Star team, which was managed by his Yankees skipper, Joe McCarthy. He wouldn’t appear in the game, and continued struggling when the season resumed. Page ended up finishing the year in the minors, having made only three more MLB appearances that season, ending the year with a 77 ERA+.

Last but not least, let’s highlight someone who almost certainly got in because of the “every team needs a representative” thing that might earn Miguel Cabrera one more All-Star nod with the hopeless Tigers.

Throughout most of the franchise’s down period in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, you could always understand why the Yankees representatives made that particular All-Star Game, whether it was Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, or whoever else. However, there really wasn’t an obvious choice in 1991. Therefore, pitcher Scott Sanderson ended up being the Yankees’ representative.

A 14-year MLB veteran, Sanderson had come to the Yankees after they purchased him from Oakland in December 1990. He had put up some good seasons, but his ERA+ going into ‘91 was an about average 105. After a bit of a slow start in pinstripes, he put a 2.77 ERA from May 24th to July 1st. But the combination of that run and the Yankees’ general mediocrity sent Sanderson to Toronto for his first career All-Star appearance, just a couple weeks before his 35th birthday.

Sanderson didn’t pitch in the game, but remained solid for the rest of the season. However, his numbers took a big drop in 1992 and he would leave in free agency after that season.

There are certainly others you could choose from, so let us know your favorite unexpected Yankees’ All-Stars.