As someone once said, “It is a tradition unlike any other.” That statement is linked to another sport but, for me, it refers to the game they call “The Midsummer Classic”…the MLB All Star game! So, why am I not going to vote for this year’s starters? Quite simply, the process has turned into a circus or, as one of my co-workers used to say: “A dog-and-pony show”.
The biggest travesty has been a process called “ballot-stuffing”, where fans of a particular team literally “stuff” the ballot box full of their hometown heroes, who are otherwise not even close to being an All Star. As a result, the starting American League second baseman for this year’s game could be someone who is hitting only .236 (that’s only 21 points higher than the “Mendoza Line”…Mario Mendoza’s career batting average was .215). What’s worse? One of the starting outfielders for the National League could be a person who has only three homers…THREE! I mean, some hitters have clubbed three homers IN ONE GAME!
The perpetrators in the American League are the Kansas City Royals’ fans. In all of their infinite wisdom (and apparent lack of all star voting sense), they have voted players on the Royals’ roster to seven of the nine starting spots so far. Mind you, their team did make the World Series last year and are sporting a record of 42-28 so far this season; but c’mon! There are 14 other teams in the league with players deserving to be All Star starters!
Among those leading at his position is Omar Infante, the aforementioned owner of a .236 betting average. The second baseman’s average ranks 10th among 11 at his position. Certainly deserving of starting second baseman would be either Jason Kipnis of Cleveland, whose .351 batting average is second only to Miguel Cabrera in the AL or Jose Altuve, who is hitting .291 (as of June 26) and has stolen 21 bases.
Another Royal who is leading his position in voting is short stop Alcides Escobar. While he has a respectable .283 average and leads shortstops with 37 runs scored, how can you overlook Detroit’s Jose Inglesias, who is hitting .329, or Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, who is a .292 hitter.
The leading vote getter at third base, Mike Moustakas, does lead all hot-corner dwellers with a .327 average but a corner infielder (first- and third basemen) are supposed to generate power numbers. Moustakas has only seven homers (tied for seventh among third basemen) and 30 RBI (tied for 9th). The better candidate is Josh Donaldson of Toronto (.299 17 47). Houston’s Luis Valbuena leads all third sackers with 19 homers, but “dude” is hitting only .199!
Among the outfielders garnering votes, two Royals, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon are leading. Cain has a .290 average and 14 steals (tied for third among outfielders) while Gordon has nine homers (tied for 13th) and 32 RBI (tied for 16th). Again, outfielders are expected to produce better numbers than these two. For example, Toronto’s Jose Bautista leads all outfielders with 50 RBI, while Seattle’s Nelson Cruz is tied for the lead in homers with 19.
Finally, Royals fans have Kendrys Morales in the lead for DH. While he is hitting .288 and is tied for first in RBI (46), a better candidate would be the irascible Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has hit 15 more homers that Morales and only trails in the RBI department by two (I know, the thought of A-Rod being an All Star makes me cringe, too!).
The one position where it seems as if the Royals fans have it right is catcher, where Salvador Perez has been consistent throughout his career. However, he is trailing Stephen Vogt of the Athletics by 23 RBI. All together now, let’s say it: “Vote for Vogt”!
Meanwhile, in the National League, it appears as if the Cardinals’ fans are struggling to get it right. They have three players leading the voting at their respective positions when, in fact, none of the three should be considered. At shortstop, Jhonny Peralta (hasn’t anybody told him his first name is spelled wrong?) trails Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki by 17 points in average but leads Tulo in homers (11 to 8) and is tied with 40 RBI. The sad part is that Peralta and Tulo have exactly one stolen base between them (Jean Segura leads NL shortstops with 10 steals). Maury Wills must be shaking his head!
At third base, Cardinal fans have Matt Carpenter in the lead, but again, he is showing a lack of power. Carpy has only eight homers compared to Todd Frazier of Cincinnati (24) and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies (22). He also trails Arenado by 30 RBI (64-34). Is this ASG worthy? (BTW, Cincy fans…you are hosting the All Star game this year and you can’t get Frazier in the starting lineup? What’s up with that?)
Balloting for starting outfielders does not get any better. Matt Holliday is one of the three leaders in voting but has only three homers (tied for 40th among OFs!) and just 26 RBI (41 behind leader Giancarlo Stanton!) Players like Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock, and even teammate Jason Heyward, are doing better than Holliday!
The big story in the NL is who will be finishing 4th among OFs. It has already been revealed that Stanton, has a broken hand and will miss 4-6 weeks. So, whoever is the number four vote-getter will get the starting nod.
In closing, I want to re-iterate that I am not going to be involved in this year’s All Star balloting; however, I will vote for the Final Player because there will definitely be a candidate who was snubbed in the original voting that should make it to Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14.