Raise your hand if you have ever sat in front of a computer between June and early July and repeatedly went through the Major League Baseball All-Star selection process to vote for all of your favorite players multiple times in hope to see them play in the midsummer classic.
Even if you won't admit to doing it, you likely have friends who have. Allowing fans to vote for the representatives is kind of like giving kids free reign to dress themselves. It might make them happy, but when picture day comes around the results won't be pretty.
Well, for Major League Baseball, picture day this year takes place at New York's CitiField on July 16, and like every year, undeserving players will take the field in the first inning as the "best" players at their position in their league.
Fortunately, fans only vote for the the starting lineups for each league so they do not have complete control of the game, but the starters are supposed to be the best players in the league at their given positions. But this season, like previous years, this will not be the case.
In the American League, I would argue that Robinson Cano, J.J. Hardy, and Jose Bautista are not deserving of starting in the midsummer classic. Here are Cano's numbers, as of July 4 -- the final day of All-Star voting -- compared with Boston's Dustin Pedroia, who I think should get the nod over Cano as the starter.
Robinson Cano: 50 Runs, 95 Hits, 15 Doubles, 20 Home Runs, 56 RBI, 5 SB, 38 BB, .299 AVG.
Dustin Pedroia: 53 Runs, 106 Hits, 23 Doubles, 5 Home Runs, 47 RBI, 13 SB, 47 BB, .323 AVG.
Pedroia bests Cano in six of the eight stat categories above. Cano has a major edge in home runs, but the RBI totals are almost identical. Since this game matters — giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series — shouldn't there be some strategy in how the managers form the lineups? The debate whether who starts should not be which one is more adored by fans, but rather which player puts the team in the best position to win.
The fans are supposed to pick the best player at each position and the stats clearly show that Pedroia is the better player.
Even though Cano is one of the coolest players in the game to watch and is able to get grass stains out of pinstripes, it does not mean he should be starting the game. Pedroia is more of a blue-collar player and less fun to watch, but when home field advantage is on the line, real baseball fans should not care just about who's the most fun.
Another problem with the system is it allows for casual fans to vote and that means they will vote for players they hear are good. Cano will always get that nod at second base because of his past success and partly because he plays for Yankees, which gives him maximum visibility in the media. But he is simply not the best second baseman so far this year.
At the shortstop position, I would argue that the Red Sox's Jhonny Peralta with his .308 average or Oakland's Jed Lowrie with his .304 average should start over Baltimore's Hardy who sports a .259 average. Again, Hardy is more of a power source than the other two, but this brings us back to the strategic dilemma. How many power bats does one team need? Someone has to get on base.
The Bautista argument is harder to make, but I think Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury needs a consideration in the voting. He is tops in the league in stolen bases and has maintained a .298 average, while Bautista has a .264 average, although he has also hit 19 long balls. This is another argument that can be ended with strategy and based on the top vote getters so far, the Angels' Mike Trout is the only starter with speed in the American League.
The National League voting is a bit skewed as well. Brandon Phillips, Justin Upton, and Bryce Harper are not deserving of their spots as the leading vote-getters at their respective positions in the National League.
Here are Phillips' numbers, as of Thursday, compared to the guy who should be the starting second baseman for the N.L., the Cardinal's Matt Carpenter.
Brandon Phillips: 44 Runs, 83 Hits, 13 Doubles, 12 Home Runs, 63 RBI, 1SB, 23 BB, .269 AVG.
Matt Carpenter: 63 Runs, 104 Hits, 25 Doubles, 8 Home Runs, 35 RBI, 1 SB, 34 BB, .324 AVG.
Again, there really is no contest, except for home runs and RBI. There seems to be a trend with the top vote-getters and a large number of home runs and RBI. Those are the hits you hear about most and are obviously important, but there are other stats that matter, as well. Like every stat that Carpenter dominates Phillips in.
Phillips is a lot like Cano in that he is fun to watch and has been the clear choice in past seasons. Although he is having a nice season, it is evident that Carpenter is having a better one.
The Upton argument is a no-brainer. He's batting .245, people. Why would he ever start in the All-Star game? I'd argue he should not even play in the game. Harper, on the other hand, has had a nice season, but he was injured for much of the first half and other outfielders have put up better numbers over a longer period of time.
My National League outfield would be Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Carlos Gomez of the Brewers, and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. If those names confused you, consider the numbers: Beltran has 19 home runs with a .304 average, Gomez has hit 12 home runs with a .308 average, and Gonzalez has hit 23 home runs with a .294 average.
So, at this point, I bet you are asking, "Hey Matt, how do you think the MLB should change the process so you will stop complaining?" Thanks for asking. The MLB needs to cut fans out of the selection process. Only players and managers should vote for all of the players on the team. Another option would be letting the same writers who vote for the Hall of Fame pick the players, but I would rather have the people who are directly affected by the game making the picks.
I especially want the manager of the midsummer classic to be able to name the starters and pick the best lineup to start the game, you know, kind of like a real game. This game matters too much to leave the decision up to fans. I love how the game's outcome dictates which league has home field advantage in the World Series. I would like to see the NBA follow suit.
I'm sorry to all of those fans who enjoy spending 15 minutes of their life every year ineptly trying to rig the voting system, but we owe it to ourselves and the players to let the managers decide the starting lineup.
By: Matt Levine