Major League Baseball this season took All-Star Game balloting out of the hands of fans in its parks and put it under the control of the internet.
The results have been... interesting.
Take, for example, the fact that Kansas City Royals players have the lead in every American League position player race except second base.
(Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros leads Kansas City’s Omar Infante 2.80 million to 2.65 million. But there’s still time to catch up, right?)
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Sure, the Royals are having a nice season. But Lorenzo Cain leads Anaheim Angels superstar Mike Trout by more than half a million votes in the outfield balloting with a .282 average and four home runs. He’s got 15 extra-base hits.
Trout is hitting .283, 20 points less than his career average. But he’s got 27 extra base hits including 16 homers. Cain is known as more of a stolen base guy than a power hitter. He has nine bags swiped while Trout is right behind him with eight.
The fact that Infante is nipping at the heels of Altuve is more shocking. Infante is, hands down, Kansas City’s worst offensive player with a .216 batting mark. He’s struck out 26 times and walked three for a woeful .225 on-base percentage) and he’s not even attempted a stolen base.
Altuve is hitting .300 with 17 stolen bases to key the Astros’ prolific offense.
National League numbers are expected to be released later today. But last week it was revealed that San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey had stormed past St. Louis Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina.
I suppose we could infer that Senior Circuit fans turned against Yadi’s 5-for-22 showing at the plate two weeks ago by jumping on the Posey bandwagon. But, more likely, the Cardinals haters who have become so vocal over the past couple of years saw Molina’s lead and took advantage of their opportunity to vote 35 times per e-mail to knock him out of a starting role.
It seems silly to me to take the ballots out of fans at the ballpark. And if MLB is going to let people vote, regardless of if they’re paying customers, why not let them vote one time per e-mail so that people who try to stuff the ballot box at least have to work for it.
If anything, All-Star Game balloting needed to be tightened up, not loosened. There is a rich history of deserving players being snubbed because of shady promotions, uneducated fans and general game playing.
So put the ballots back in the ballparks. If for no other reason than I enjoy talking with my eight-year-old son about the players as we fill them out in the bleachers.
We get it, Royals fans, with one good season after 29 lousy ones you’ve rediscovered what channel shows the home games. But the idea of the All-Star Game is to showcase all of baseball’s brightest stars on a dream team. That doesn’t include watching a no-hit, all-glove second baseman take the spotlight on MLB’s biggest stage.