Who Moved My All-Star Break?

We’re in the last week prior to the 2013 All-Star Break, and with it will come the usual pronouncements of some player setting a record for most ____ by the Break.  Now of course, the actual date of All-Star Break moves around quite a bit, but its generally the beginning of the second week of July.    Here’s a breakdown of the actual dates of the All-Star Game, excluding 1981 (when it was held after the end of the strike) and the dates of the second of the two games played each year from 1959-1962:

DATE OF ALL-STAR GAME
DATE Count Pct.
7/11 11 13.9
7/13 11 13.9
7/10 9 11.4
7/9 8 10.1
7/12 7 8.9
7/8 7 8.9
7/14 5 6.3
7/7 5 6.3
7/15 4 5.1
7/6 4 5.1
7/16 2 2.5
7/23 2 2.5
7/17 1 1.3
7/19 1 1.3
7/24 1 1.3
7/25 1 1.3
Total 79 100.0

Take that and add in that fact that the teams all play a different number of games prior to the break, and it renders “Most ____ by the Break” statements kind of weak (at least without many caveats).  Here is the percentage of each season’s games actually played prior to the Break from 1933-2012, excluding strike years:

gamesbyasb

As you can see, prior to the 1950s, the Break generally occurred with less than 50% of the season completed.  That dramatically changed during the last 60s and early 70s, before dropping back under 50% in the early 1980s.  The percentage has been trending upward since then, with the last season that had a break before 50% of games played occurring in 1991.  (This represents games actually played based on rainouts/postponements, rather than the original schedule, but the percentages based on the original schedule didn’t differ significantly.)

Here is the average number of games played per team prior to the break in each non-strike season since the advent of the 162-game schedule.  You can clearly see that the “All-Star Break” is not synonymous with “Halfway Point” or “First Half”:

Year Avg. GP
1961 83.2
1962 84.4
1963 84.0
1964 78.2
1965 84.0
1966 85.0
1967 81.6
1968 82.0
1969 95.8
1970 86.6
1971 88.2
1973 97.5
1974 95.8
1975 88.0
1976 82.9
1977 91.0
1978 84.5
1979 90.8
1980 78.5
1982 85.1
1983 78.0
1984 84.8
1985 86.2
1986 87.1
1987 87.2
1988 86.3
1989 86.1
1990 81.9
1991 80.6
1992 87.4
1993 87.4
1996 86.8
1997 85.6
1998 86.5
1999 87.0
2000 86.3
2001 86.9
2002 86.7
2003 93.3
2004 86.8
2005 87.5
2006 88.1
2007 87.5
2008 95.1
2009 87.9
2010 88.3
2011 91.1
2012 85.5

With that, take with a grain of salt these “All-Star Break” records from 1933 to 2012, with the total games played by the player and his team:

Player Year Indiv/Team HR
Barry Bonds 2001 81/88 39
Mark McGwire 1998 80/86 37
Reggie Jackson 1969 91/92 37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/6/2013.
Player Year Indiv/Team 2B
Edgar Martinez 1996 85/85 42
Craig Biggio 1999 87/88 38
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/7/2013.
Player Year Indiv/Team RBI
Hank Greenberg 1935 76/76 103
Juan Gonzalez 1998 87/87 101
Carlos Delgado 2003 94/95 97
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/6/2013.
Player Year Indiv/Team H
Ralph Garr 1974 98/99 149
Matty Alou 1969 95/95 146
Darin Erstad 2000 87/88 144
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/6/2013.
Player Year Indiv/Team W
Wilbur Wood 1973 32/98 18
Vida Blue 1971 22/87 17
Mickey Lolich 1972 24/88 17
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/6/2013.
Player Year Indiv/Team SO
Nolan Ryan 1977 23/88 234
Nolan Ryan 1973 25/96 233
Randy Johnson 1999 20/89 211
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/6/2013.

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