On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced the 2016 All-Star game rosters, and three selections belonged to the New York Yankees: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Carlos Beltran. There were no surprises there: both Miller and Betances were easily two of the best relievers in the game, and Beltran has consistently been the Yankees' best hitter since May of last season. By all metrics, these were deserved selections.
This doesn't mean, though, that there shouldn't be a tinge of disappointment. This was a year where the Yankees should have been on the up-tick; they won 87 games and made the playoffs last year, and they made key additions that should have made this club better and more well-rounded. Instead, it's been an overwhelmingly disappointing and frustrating year. Both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have failed to live up to their 2015 performances, and the offense as a whole only features two above-average hitters (Beltran and Brian McCann). The starting pitching has also been incredibly inconsistent, as the only reliable starter thus far has been Masahiro Tanaka.
In an ideal world, Yankees fans expect more than just three All-Star selections, and if my previous paragraph is any indication, they likely should have had a few more. That got me thinking: how poor have the Yankees' All-Star game showings been in recent years? It's no surprise that the Yankees have seen an overall decline in quality since 2013, and I would imagine their All-Star appearances would also reflect that. To inspect this, I looked at every Yankees All-Star since 1996, and tallied their cumulative full season fWAR in that season (for 2016, I just made this full season total their ZiPS projected total). Here's what I found:
Unsurprisingly, this crop of All-Stars would be the second-worst since 1996 at 6.9 total fWAR. Worst would be 2014 where the total was just 6.1 (Betances, Tanaka, Derek Jeter), and third-worst was obviously 2013 at 7.3 (Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera).
What's very interesting about this chart is that it seems to track, with reasonable accuracy, the Yankees' success across the past 20 years. There are obviously other things going on because All-Star appearances only track first-half performance, and they are selected by fan vote, but the crowds do a decent job at assessing overall talent. You can see the teams on the rise from 1996 to 2004, with a slight decline in the mid-2000's that rebounded until 2012; now, we have reached the nadir of my generation.
In a way, this argument is similar to that of the article I last wrote. The Yankees, in this era of their existence, do not have a star. They have good players indeed--Tanaka, Betances, Miller, Gardner, and Teixeira--but they are not the type of stars that amass large amounts of value, at least not anymore. If there is anything meaningful this meaningless chart says, it's that the Yankees have seen a massive decline in star power.
There's another way to look at this, though. I'm going to appreciate the heck out of the great players the Yankees have now. I love watching Miller, Betances, and Beltran play, as well as the other good players who did not get a nod. Just because this team isn't great doesn't mean we can't appreciate these awesome players, because they are. Beltran is a future Hall of Famer, and both Betances and Miller have helped form a relief corps that is essentially unprecedented in baseball history, save the recent Royals.
When the All-Star game rolls around next week, I'm not going to pout that the Yankees don't have the showing they did a few years ago. So it goes in baseball. Everyone has their time in the sun, and the Yankees had it for 20 straight years. I'm going to cheer on the Yankees that are there, because during a time when the team can be frustrating and gut-wrenching to watch, these are the players that create unadulterated joy.