Jul 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) and Houston Astros second basemanJose Altuve
(27) talk in the outfield prior to their game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Players Don’t Pick Best Players Either
One issue it seems Kipnis and others have with the fan vote is that they feel the best players aren’t getting in as starters. They definitely aren’t wrong here. Guys like Jose Altuve and Salvador Perez are not the best players at their positions. However, these players that are complaining about the fan voting aren’t doing a very good job in their own voting process.
The fans only vote in 17 players to the game (nine in AL, eight in NL). The rest of the players are picked by players and the manager of each squad. There’s a players vote that takes place while the fan voting is going on. Here’s who the players voted as “starters” for the American League squad this year:
Three of the nine are the same as the fan vote: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Trout. Three others were good picks: Jason Kipnis, Jose Iglesias, and Stephen Vogt. Kipnis has been the best second baseman in the AL, Iglesias has been the best shortstop, and Vogt the best catcher. However, are the rest of the picks really better than what the fans did?
Nelson Cruz was the fan choice at designated hitter. He has the highest wRC+ of any designated hitter in the league. He’s been the best hitter at a position that only hits. If you’re talking about who “deserves” to start it is Nelson Cruz. The fans got this one right. Prince Fielder is having a great year and absolutely deserves to be on the team, but Cruz deserves to start over him, though it’s been very close.
Adams Jones finished with the second most votes among the players behind Mike Trout…but why? He ranks tenth among American League outfielders in fWAR and ninth in wRC+. There’s a stronger case that he shouldn’t even be on the team than being a starting outfielder for the American League. The fans voted in Lorenzo Cain as their 2nd best outfielder, and you know what, this year he’s actually has been the second best outfielder in the American League.
Jose Bautista finishing third in the player vote is not a bad selection. A case could be made that he should start and is the 3rd best outfielder in the American League. However, J.D. Martinez could lay claim to that as well. And the fan choice of Alex Gordon is a top five or six outfielder this year so can one really call him a “bad” choice either? Not when Adam Jones is who the players picked (and is likely who will replace the now injured Gordon).
One can debate whether the players or fans had a better All-Star ballot. The players’ ballot probably had more guys that deserved to start though their ballot also had arguably the worst selection (Adam Jones) on it as well. Recall that Jason Kipnis said “Fans are always going to vote for their favorite players, whether they are having a good year or not”…well Jason, the players seem to do it too. The three outfielders that the players selected were the same three that started for the AL last year, but apparently the players didn’t get the memo that there were better choices this go-around.
And 2015 isn’t the only example that can be used. Last year the American League had four catchers on it: Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, Derek Norris, and Kurt Suzuki. Sure the fans voted in Weiters despite him being hurt (that was bad), but somehow three other catchers got added while the best American League catcher in the first half, Yan Gomes, was left out thanks to the players’ vote?! Ouch…
Then of course there are the pitcher choices. Fans (for whatever reason) don’t’ get to pick any pitchers for the All-Star game. The players instead get first crack at it and while they did pretty well they made some unforgivable errors. Both of last year’s Cy Young winners were left off their respective rosters: Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw. Now, just because a player won an award the previous year doesn’t mean they automatically belong in the following year’s game. However, Kluber and Kershaw have both been one of the three best pitchers in their respective leagues this year. It’s inexcusable for the players to leave off talents like this.
Next: Managerial Choices May Be the Worst Yet