Changes must be made to the ASG voting system

In about a month, baseball’s brightest stars will take the field in Miami in the heat of July. As the game gets closer, the ballot is released weekly for all positions, except pitcher as it’s voted by the coaches, in both the AL and NL. Each ballot though reveals the obvious flaw of the All-Star Game voting system. I will highlight many examples of the the flawed voting system displayed in these ballots.
Photo Credit: MLB.com

First, let’s talk about the popularity vote. A lot of players are voted to be a starter, but thanks more so for their reputation than their performance in that respective season. This dates back to Derek Jeter’s last few seasons, where he did not at all play at an All-Star level, but was still voted as a starter on multiple undeserving occasions because of his well known name.

Miguel Cabrera is the perfect example of this thus far this season, looking to be the starting first baseman despite hitting just five homers and a .275 average. Although there’s not any standouts at first really, there's multiple breakout players that deserve the chance at that top spot. These include Yonder Alonso (.297 BA, 16 HRs, 34 RBIs), Marwin Gonzalez (.314 BA, 12 HRs, 34 RBIs), and Justin Smoak (.283, 15 HRs, 40 RBIs). Alonso is currently in second, breathing down Cabrera’s neck, while the other two aren't in the top five. These players may not bring as excitement as Miggy potentially would, but the All-Star Game should be about the most deserving players from the first few months of the season.

At the ultra thin catcher position, Gary Sanchez is currently fourth in the AL, just over 200,000 less votes than the first place Salvador Perez. Sanchez, well within reaching distance with a month left, missed a whole month and has been quite pedestrian, but remains a chance of being a starter.

Teammate Didi Gregorius is third in votes at shortstop, despite a loaded shortstop position. Missing over the first month of the season, Gregorius has certainly been impressive in the small sample size, but is currently ahead of Jean Segura of the Mariners and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox. Segura, currently out with a high ankle sprain, leads the AL in batting average at .341, while Bogaerts sits in eighth at .325. As evidenced by Sanchez and Gregorius, the Yankee fan club is quite big and certainly helps in this voting. Yes, Didi has the same amount of homers and RBIs as Segura and more HRs than Bogaerts, but a guy should not make the All-Star Game after missing a full month of baseball.

Heck, Chase Headley was fifth at third base after the first ballot was released if that gives you some sort of context and we all know Headley is not a top 5 third baseman in the AL. Other names include Manny Machado, who is somehow in third despite a .214 average, lower than Chase Headley’s. Machado is just over 100,000 votes behind breakout star Miguel Sano, but should be nowhere near the top with his early season performance.

Also, Brett Gardner looks like he's once again being under appreciated, as he's hit 12 homers to go along with his stellar defense, but sits in just ninth place amongst outfielders after the second ballot update. He sits behind a guy like Carlos Beltran, former Yankee, who has batted just .249 with nine homers, being clearly outplayed by Gardner in every category.
NY Post
A player like Aaron Hicks is also at a disadvantage, because he was not put on the ballot. Despite his phenomenal numbers, a fan would never even know he existed unless they kept up with the Yankees or had seen Hicks play against their favorite team. The only way to vote for Hicks would to write him in. No one has ever started the game as a write-in.

The Yankees have had their fair share of snubs the past few seasons as well, as Gardner, as stated, has been under appreciated. A-Rod couldn't make it to his 15th All-Star Game in 2015 despite his revitalized season. You can even go as far back as 2011, when Mark Teixeria was also snubbed from the Midsummer Classic.

The fan bases certainly ruin the fan ballots, as they're biased towards their teams. We've seen this in past seasons with the Yankees, the World Series Royal teams, and now for the second straight seasons the Chicago Cub fan base. The NL ballot is all over the place thanks to Chicago’s NL representative.

Other than Kris Bryant, who has also had his fair share of struggles (.273 BA) coming off his 2016 MVP season, the Cubs offense has vastly unperformed, but still has many players with a chance at starting at their positions. Bryant has been okay, but does not deserve to be ahead of stars Nolan Arenado and Jake Lamb, along with underrated third basemen Justin Turner, Jedd Gyorko, and Anthony Rendon.

Anthony Rizzo currently sits in second at first base, ahead of the likes of Freddie Freeman, Justin Bour, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Mark Reynolds. The first base position in the NL has been stacked with the aforementioned five names all being deserving of earning a spot, along with current leading vote getter Ryan Zimmerman, who's experiencing a ridiculous, resurgent season. Rizzo is still just 12,000 votes behind Zimmerman, while batting .236 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs. Those are respectable numbers, but nowhere near the other five’s seasons. The name game also plays a factor in this, as a guy like Justin Bour, not known by many fans, has virtually no chance in the fan vote despite his excellent season.

Elsewhere, Addison Russell is in a close race at shortstop with Corey Seager and Zack Cozart. Statistically speaking though, the race should only be between Seager and Cozart. Cozart, not very well known and shortstop for the unimpressive fan base of the Reds, is absolutely crushing the ball this season, second in the NL in average (.353) along with nine homers and 33 RBIs. Seager, not nearly as impressive as his 2016 MVP-type season and Cozart, is still far better than Russell, who's hitting .209 with three homers and 19 RBIs.

Perhaps the most frustrating position of the fan vote is the NL outfield, where the Cubs have three players in the top six.

Jason Heyward (.264 BA, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs), Ben Zobrist (.233 BA, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs), and Kyle Schwarber (.162 BA, 9 HRs, 23 RBIs) are all highly undeserving, but get away with it thanks to the vast amount of Cubs fans. Guys like Michael Conforto (.307 BA, 14 HRs, 36 RBIs) and Ender Inciarte (.303 BA, 6 HRs, 24 RBIs, 10 SBs) aren't even in the top 15, while outfielders Giancarlo Stanton (.290 BA, 15 HRs, 39 RBIs), Marcell Ozuna (.324 BA, 14 HRs, 40 RBIs), and Matt Kemp (.327 BA, 10 HRs, 30 RBIs) are just behind the three Cubs outfielders.
NBC Miami
All in all, the All-Star Game should be about the players having the best season at each position, but instead it's more of a popularity vote, both the player’s name and his fan base. In order to get more deserving players, the voting system needs to be changed so that fans do not influence who starts and who doesn't. So just how could the MLB make the All-Star Game better. Well, fans may not be happy, but it would logically make sense to switch it up.

In my opinion, they should totally wipe the fan voting and have the coaches vote for the bulk of the rosters. The coaches tend to be far less biased and are more informed about the guys they're playing against and who deserves to make it. The pitchers, currently selected by coaches, as raised little criticism with minimal snubs annually. In order to keep the fans involved, you could have them vote on the injury replacements and the starting pitcher of each side, while also continuing the tradition of doing the final vote for each league. The coaches would continue voting on the pitchers, while also voting on the starters and reserves.

As shown by the AL and NL side of things, players are getting cheated because of their lack of reputation and the lack of fan support from their team, despite putting up great numbers (a la Zack Cozart). It's time for commissioner Rob Manfred and the rest of Major League Baseball to make a change.

Article by: Spencer Schultz

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