What a mess. One of the more fun games of the year for me is the All-Star game. It’s fun because often I don’t get to see big stars actually play. I love fantasy baseball and I love reading stats, so I know the names and I know what they’re good at. But I rarely get to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch or a Paul Goldschmidt at-bat. Watching these players swing the bat, or seeing their pitching motion, and playing against the best players in the game is something special. Not so much this year.
It looks like the starters for the American League All-Star Team is going to be the starting lineup of the Kansas City Royals. This has some folks – myself included – upset. There are some Royals who are simply not the best in the A.L. at their position. In the case of Omar Infante, you can make the argument that he’s the worst starting 2nd baseman in the league. But they have the most votes. There is a lot of speculation about whether or not some KC fan hacked the voting, with one blogger claiming he successfully exceeded 35 votes. Sorry, but MLB eliminates about 20% of the votes due to irregularities, so your extras were probably in that 20%. Still, there is no proof that the votes were hacked, so I’m going to go on the notion that KC fans are voting en masse for their players.
The idea of teams encouraging fans to vote for their players has been around for ages. Every visit to a ballpark I have done around this time of year is filled with reminders to vote for your team’s players. Even the ballot page has a way for you to highlight one team’s players. I suppose that is just in case you couldn’t find them. Note sarcasm. This introduces a fundamental problem with the entire process. It turns an event that is supposed to be about the sport’s best players into a popularity contest. Welcome to the 2015 All-Star voting.
I would like to propose a number of changes to the voting process, in the interest of turning this event back to what it is supposed to be. First, eliminate this 35 votes per person nonsense and make it one person, one vote. I never understood the reason for this, except that it gives MLB.com more clicks and their sponsors and advertisers more exposure. Second, take the pool of eligible players and reduce it to a list of serious All-Star contenders. I mean, why does Ryan Hanigan’s name even appear on my ballot? Take your standard 5x5 scoring categories – AVG, HR, RBI, R, SB, W, K, ERA, SV, and WHIP – and limit eligibility to the players in the top 5 in at least one of those categories. Eliminate write-ins. Statistics do not always tell the whole story, but if you’re not in the top 5 in your league in even one of those categories, you have no business getting All-Star votes.
Finally, I would cap the number of starters per team to some reasonable number, like four. If more than four players from a single team are elected by fans, then the manager and commissioner’s office have the option of moving those extra players from a starting spot to a reserve role on the team, much in the same way they would substitute a player that declines to participate. That stops one team’s fans from hijacking the voting process like Royals fans are doing now.
The Commissioner’s Office has declined to make any changes at this point, though who knows what they’ll do when the opposing voices start to get louder. We have heard a lot about Ford Frick and his intervention in the 1957 All-Star Game. Will Rob Manfred take similar action? There are still a few weeks to go, but it is sure to get interesting.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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