Tim Wakefield(notes) has been chosen for his first All-Star Game at the ripe old age of 42. As you might have heard, if he gets into the game, he'll be the 12th pitcher and 30th player ever to play in a Midsummer Classic after his 40th birthday.
Yet he's even more unique than that because most of the ancients who make it to the game are aging legends like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Roger Clemens(notes). Of the 29 to come before the Boston knuckleballer, only Jamie Moyer(notes) and Satchel Paige made their All-Star debut after turning 40 — and only Moyer will probably retire with just one All-Star selection to his credit, as Wakefield is likely to do. Most of the other old-timers were longtime legends; the 11 pitchers combined for 73 All-Star selections, and the 18 hitters combined for 247. (Fifteen of the 29 made the All Star team at least 10 times.)
It gives rise to the question that Rob Neyer brought up earlier this week, "Is the All-Star Game the place for Lifetime Achievement Awards?"
Usually, if an over-the-hill guy gets an All-Star nod over younger, better players, it's because he's halfway to the Hall of Fame and the fans become used to seeing him every year.
But Wakefield, on the other hand, is a fabulously above-average pitcher who throws a really weird pitch that is usually hard to hit, except when it gets crushed, and his numbers this year have been pretty consistent with what he always puts up: 4.31 ERA this year, 4.32 career ERA. (Yes, he's 11-3 and leading the league in wins, which isn't quite as hard when your team is also tied for the league lead in wins.)
It's hard to make an argument that Wakefield's one of the 13 best pitchers in the American League. Joe Maddon almost admitted as much when he listed his criteria for picking Wake:
"Sentimentality, body of work and, of course, the season he's having."
It's no coincidence that the 4.32 ERA came after sentimentality and body of work. Sentimentally, of course, Wakefield is a great guy and a whole lot of fun to watch, and at this point in his long, outstanding career he deserves most every accolade he gets.
What do you think? Should Wakefield's body of work qualify him for an All-Star spot?