David Wright Voted to NL All-Star Team as Reserve; is MLB Voting System Flawed?


Days after the voting was closed, the MLB announced the National League and American League All-Star team rosters for the 83rd mid-summer classic, taking place in Kansas City. Not surprisingly, both David Wright and R.A. Dickey will be representing the New York Mets as NL All-Stars, but what is most surprising is that David Wright, who led the voting for NL third basemen virtually since voting opened, lost his starting spot to Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants.

It was a no brainer that Dickey would make the squad as one of the NL’s starting pitchers; as a knuckleballer, he leads all of MLB with 12 wins, his 2.15 ERA is lowest among NL pitchers not on the DL, his 113 innings pitched are third in the NL, and his 116 strikeouts are second to only Stephen Strasburg. The real question for Dickey will be whether or not Tony LaRussa will start him; the Mets rotation works out where he will be able to do so, but only time will tell to see what the manager’s decision is, as he has plenty of options.

However, David Wright losing the starting spot at third base is more confusing than anything. As was mentioned before, he’d been in the lead virtually the entire time voting was open, and had a 400,000 vote lead over Pablo Sandoval as of the last update before voting closed. When the rosters were revealed on TBS during the selection show yesterday, we found out that the Giants third baseman was voted to be the NL starter by 1.6 million votes.

I’m sorry, what?! Sandy Alderson said it best on his twitter: “A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000.” I’m not trying to discredit the honor given to Sandoval because he is a great player, but it is just mind boggling to see two million votes for one player be submitted in just a matter of days. Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog did make the observation that the Giants have been on a home stand

for the last week while the Mets were away, so it was easy for the organization to put a campaign together to push fans to vote for Kung Fu Panda, and the Giants fan base is one of the most loyal around, but this is just one more reason why the fans shouldn’t be deciding who is worthy of starting in the MLB All-Star game.

Just because we’re all Mets fans doesn’t mean we’re biased (OK, maybe a little), but it’s clear that Sandoval hasn’t been the best third baseman in the National League throughout the first half of the 2012 season. Yes, Sandoval is having a good year (.300/.362/.471), but he’s only played in 45 games due to injury, while compiling 6 homers and 25 RBI this year. Meanwhile, you take a look at Wright’s statistics (.354/.447/.560), including his 9 homers and 50 RBI, and it’s clear that the best third baseman in the NL will be sitting on the bench in Kansas City.

This happens every year; voting for the All-Star game is just a popularity contest, it doesn’t honor who’s having a fantastic year. There are more cases in this year’s voting; for instance, Dan Uggla (.232/.362/.410) will be starting at second base. He has 11 homers and 42 RBI, which is not earth shattering. While he’s in the starting lineup, Jose Altuve (.308/.350/.450) will be sitting on the bench, even though his average is almost 80 points higher, has a higher slugging percentage, and almost 30 more hits in 2012.

In the American League, the same case can be made for Paul Konerko at first base. Prince Fielder is having a solid year in his first season with the Tigers, putting together a triple slash of .296/.374/.485, including 12 homers and 53 RBI. There is no doubt he is more popular than Konerko, who is having a better overall year than Fielder (.335/.411/.551, 14 homers, 40 RBI). I’m also surprised that Joe Mauer (.324/.414/.445) didn’t beat out Mike Napoli (.235/.335/.438) at catcher.

There are so many things wrong with fan voting; it is understandable for teams to create campaigns to get their best players to the All-Star game, but Major League Baseball needs to re-think the whole process to ensure that the best players for the respective season are starting in the midsummer classic, not the most popular ones.

The biggest problem with the voting process is that fans are allowed to vote up to 25 times. Why? This makes no sense. Sure, either way it’s awesome that Josh Hamilton received a record 11 million votes or that Wright received 4 million votes, but fans being allowed to vote more than once makes it less special. These votes would mean a lot more to the fans and players if they were only allowed one vote. The MLB pushed most of the votes to happen online this season, so take the kiosks out of stadiums and make it exclusively online, making sure only one person gets one vote. With the institution of the new playoff system, Bud Selig has been harping on the fact that every game counts. If each game counts, then each vote should count the same way: once.

This rant will in no way start a revolution to change these voting rules, but each year I’m more disgusted with some of the All-Star starters because they only receive votes because of what they have done in past years instead of what they’re currently doing. Or, teams force it down the throats of their fans to keep voting for players who don’t deserve it.