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A history of San Francisco Giants pitchers in the All-Star Game

Some of it is better than you think it is

Elsa/Getty Images

The All-Star Game is today, and it's pretty likely that Madison Bumgarner will pitch in it. Maybe you heard about him last postseason, when, as I recall, he was pretty good. Maybe not. I don't want to judge you for how you use your time.

But you, as a longtime Giants fan, might be nervous about Bumgarner. Since moving to San Francisco, the Giants don't have a great track record of All-Star pitcher success. Of course, when they were in New York, it was totally different, but there's no reason to include those numbers. Johnny Antonelli in the Polo Grounds was a very different pitcher than Johnny Antonelli in Seals Stadium in so many ways that it would be silly to list them here. Just take my word for it that this is a very serious article about very serious matters, and I absolutely would not exclude the New York years solely because I already did some math and don't want to redo it.

Since 1959, the Giants have sent  pitchers to the All-Star Game 61 times. Juan Marichal went 10 times, Mike McCormick and Tim Lincecum went 4 times, and Vida Blue, Rod Beck, Robb Nen, Jason Schmidt, Brian Wilson, Matt Cain, and now Bumgarner have each gone 3 times. As a group, they haven't fared well. The San Francisco staff ERA in the All-Star Game sits at 4.01. They've performed a little better than that, with a FIP of 3.05, but we all mostly remember the runs, I think. Whether it's Shawn Estes, Robb Nen, or (sigh) Atlee Hammaker, we really just remember the runs. Oh, Atlee. Poor guy.

Of course, it's not just poor performance in the game that we can look on with regret. For the mentally tough, we can even blame poor performance in the future on pitching in the ASG. Sure, Schmidt was fantastic in the second half of 2003, but he had a pretty rough decline after that. Was he cursed by throwing those two innings? We don't know he wasn't. Same thing goes for Matt Cain.  His 2012 start was the beginning of a run of ineffectiveness for him. Just because there's no "evidence" for this theory and it doesn't make "sense" doesn't mean we can't continue thinking it! After all, what's more likely to be the cause of a pitcher's decline: some team-based All-Star Game curse, or the passage of time?

But back to the stats. Sure, Giants pitchers have combined for a 4.01 All-Star Game ERA, but their All-Star game FIP is just 3.05. And if you're wondering why I brought that up again, it's because I calculated it myself, and it took an amount of work that was not remotely justified by the level of interest anyone else will have in it, so I'm rationalizing that by using it repeatedly. 3.05, you guys. That's less than 3.48, but more than 2.81. Pretty impressive when I put it like that, huh?

But if you really want to have fun with numbers, take out Atlee Hammaker's outing in 1983. He gave up seven runs on six hits in two thirds of an inning, which has caused the SF Giants ASG ERA to go up by a full point (4.01 instead of 3.00) and their FIP to go up by half a run (2.56 to 3.05). Because of that outing, the Giants also lead in ASG grand slams allowed (1). Oh, Atlee. Poor guy.

The Giants have had some more recent embarrassment, of course. Tim Lincecum missed the 2008 game, which went 15 innings, with what the media called "flu-like symptoms" but which everyone pretty much knows was just a bad hangover. Now, the only reason we know that is the current media landscape – Maybe Gary Lavelle spent all of July 5 and 6, 1983 mainlining Bartles & Jaymes, but we'd never know – but it's still something we know and can be exasperated by.

In conclusion, the All-Star Game is a land of contrasts. Furthermore-

*checks notes*
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Since moving to San Francisco, Giants pitchers as a group haven't done too well in the All-Star Game. But if you just manipulate the stats a little bit to ignore the parts you don't want to remember, then they get way better (Oh, Atlee. Poor guy). This is a good way to do statistical analysis and we should probably apply these teachings to every aspect of baseball.