I despair

I don’t like the All-Star Game, really. It’s great to have it in Kansas City and I am looking forward to it so much that I will be actually watching this year. (I have only watched one of the past five.) But there are still many flaws, the most prominent of which is the voting system used to select the starters. It assumes that those voting will make reasoned, informed decisions on the players they feel are most deserving. I don’t know if that assumption was ever accurate, but despite the fact that stats and highlights are at the fingertips of every single voter it is certainly not the case now. Another update to the current All-Star vote numbers was released today and with it another blow to my respect for the baseball watching public.

I blogged on the Armchair Selector giving my American League and National League All-Star Game picks. I certainly don’t insist on all of them; I would never suggest that anyone is stupid or ill-informed just for disagreeing with some of them. But some of the current vote-getters are just ridiculous. Mark Teixeira has 1,405,187 votes at first base in the AL, good enough for third place. That means that (assuming 25 votes per person) over 56,000 people think that a man hitting .252 with eleven home runs is a better choice than Paul Konerko who is hitting .359 with twelve home runs. At third base, Alex Rodriguez (a player who everyone seems to have forgot admitted to having taken steroids and was never punished) has 660,000 more votes than Mike Moustakas despite being a worse defender, having a lower batting average and having hit the same number of home runs when playing half his games in a much more hitter-friendly park. Evan Longoria has more votes than either of them despite not even having played enough games to qualify for the batting race.

That is insane and just two examples of the massive bias toward big clubs. Now, I can accept successful clubs getting more All-Stars. They are successful for a reason. But the problem is when players who are not even vaguely worthy of starting are getting over a million votes. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are getting votes purely by virtue of being Yankees; neither of them are having anything other than average seasons. This is ridiculous. A lot of the blame must be placed at the feet of the national channels, ESPN particularly, who show big clubs almost exclusively and focus extensively on the famous players regardless of how well they are actually doing. Players from smaller clubs get largely ignored even when they do well. (It’s worth noting that whilst ESPN is terrible about this, the MLB Network is actually rather good about giving all players and teams a fair look.) The fans who vote are not free from blame either though as they make the basic (and pretty stupid) error of assuming that ‘famous’ equals ‘good’ without doing any actual research of their own. Despite the fact that all of the relevant stats are on the same website as the online ballot. It’s a massive failure of both parties and leads to results that are frankly appalling.

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