Major League Baseball released the first All-Star voting update Wednesday and, once again, they proved that fan-voting is a terrible idea.
I understand the thought behind it — getting fans involved is always a good idea, and baseball, perhaps more than ever, needs that involvement — however, this is getting ridiculous.
Fans are allowed to vote 35 times from every email address that they own or can create. Here’s my question: who arbitrarily chose this number? 35? Really?
I imagine a roundtable of MLB executives — playing with their Rolexes with their Burberry loafers kicked up on the table, “How are we gonna decide how many times to let them vote?” After eliminating dart throwing and drawing cards (because that would be unprofessional), some guy in a fancy tie raises his hand, clears his throat and says, “35 votes sound good to you guys?” All in favor said “I,” they grabbed a beer and celebrated with an afternoon at the links.
That last part may be a stretch, but the rest sounds about right.
The system also has no way of knowing how many email addresses you have, so in theory, you can make as many addresses as you want. TheseIdiotsWontKnowHowManyTimesIVoted@aol.com would register just fine with the system. Royals fans are taking advantage of this.
I’m also concerned for the fans who are taking time out of their days to vote this many times. You don’t have anything better to do?
At one point last June, the Royals had eight of the nine starting positions for the MidSummer Classic. This year, the results are similar. The Royals currently have a player in the top two at each position. There are some that are deserving — like catcher Salvador Perez who is clearly the best at his position. Others, like second baseman Omar Infante (who ranks second in voting), should be no where near the top of the list. He has 0.2 WAR, while players like Robinson Cano (2.45 WAR) and Dustin Pedroia (2.2 WAR) trail him by over 100,000 votes.
In the National League, it’s not nearly as bad, but the problem is still clear. The Cubs have the entire infield on lockdown — Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell all lead their respective positions. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I should be all for this, right? Wrong. And I’ll get into that in a minute, but first allow me to complain more.
The All-Star game used to be a showcase of the very best that baseball had to offer. As good as Russell has been defensively, you cannot argue that he deserves the honor more than Giants’ SS Brandon Crawford or Dodgers’ SS Kyle Seager. Both players are nearly doubling him in WAR.
A look at the NL outfield voting is alarming. Jason Heyward (0.4 WAR) is 4th in voting while players like Marcell Ozuna (2.4 WAR), Gregory Polanco (2.4 WAR) and Starling Marte (2.0 WAR) trail him by hundreds of thousands of votes. Riddle me that one, Batman.
I could keep going and going, but you’ve seen the list, and anyone with half of a baseball brain can see that this is not a battle of baseball’s best players. It’s practically an inter-league game between the Royals and Cubs. OK, slight overstatement. What it’s truly become is a competition of which MLB team can encourage their fans to waste their days creating email addresses and voting 35 times.
The players and coaches should be the ones to vote. This way, the very best players will take the field for the game. This would increase the honor for the players and the viewing enjoyment for the fans.
The fact that this game decides home-field advantage for the World Series is preposterous — and that’s a conversation for another day — but, if that’s what’s on the line, then the best players need to be on the field. This should resonate with Cubs fans in 2016.
If the team’s fortunes continue, there could be an October game at Wrigley Field on the line when the All-Stars take the field on July 12 at Petco Park. As cool as it would be to see an infield full of Cubbies, I think I’d rather see Brandon Crawford out there. And maybe Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt over Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Sorry to my fellow Cubs fans who just choked on their deep dish pizza. I only said maybe.
Like I said, if home-field advantage in the World Series is on the line, you should want the very best players taking the field. An extra home game could be the difference in ending a 107-year-long World Series drought. Think about that.
Kevin McCarthy, a junior at the University of Illinois, is serving an internship at Scout.com this summer and covering the Cubs for NorthSidersReport. You can follow him at @KevOMcCarthy on Twitter or contact him by e-mail at Kevin.McCarthy00@yahoo.com