Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Baseball's All-Star Game needs a change

It is a rite of summer. Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Game, taking place July 12 in San Diego, is already generating a buzz, and only because of who isn't playing.

Let us first consider the rosters, courtesy of Yahoo!:

American League roster:

C: Salvador Perez, Royals
1B: Eric Hosmer, Royals
2B: Jose Altuve, Astros
3B: Manny Machado, Orioles
SS: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox

AL pitchers:

RHP: Dellin Betances, Yankees
RHP: Brad Brach, Orioles
LHP: Zach Britton, Orioles
RHP: Alex Colome, Rays
RHP: Wade Davis (on DL), Royals
RHP: Marco Estrada, Blue Jays
LHP: Cole Hamels, Rangers
RHP: Will Harris, Astros
RHP: Kelvin Herrera, Royals
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
LHP: Andrew Miller, Yankees
RHP: Danny Salazar, Indians
LHP: Chris Sale, White Sox
RHP: Steven Wright, Red Sox

AL reserves:

C: Stephen Vogt, Athletics
C: Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B: Robinson Cano, Mariners
3B: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians
SS: Eduardo Nunez, Twins
OF: Carlos Beltran, Yankees
OF: Ian Desmond, Rangers
OF: Mark Trumbo, Orioles
DH: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

Boston has 4 starters, including David Ortiz, in his final All-Star Game. Ortiz's selection was a given as a result of his pre-season announcement that he was retiring, and cases can be made for the others. Royals manager Ned Yost, piloting the AL team for the 2nd straight year, must know something we don't, since he closer, Wade Davis, is on the DL, and might not be available for next week's game. Otherwise, the starters will draw a collective yawn in years to come because it'll be the same cast over and over again......

National League roster:

C: Buster Posey, Giants
1B: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
2B: Ben Zobrist, Cubs
3B: Kris Bryant, Cubs
SS: Addison Russell, Cubs
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals
OF: Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
OF: Dexter Fowler, Cubs NL pitchers:

RHP: Jake Arrieta, Cubs
LHP: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
RHP: Johnny Cueto, Giants
RHP: Jeurys Familia, Mets
RHP: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
RHP: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
LHP: Clayton Kershaw (on DL), Dodgers
LHP: Jon Lester, Cubs
RHP: Mark Melancon, Pirates
RHP: A.J. Ramos, Marlins
RHP: Fernando Rodney, Marlins
RHP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
RHP: Noah Syndergaard, Mets
RHP: Julio Teheran, Braves

NL reserves:

C: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
C: Wilson Ramos, Nationals
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
1B: Wil Myers, Padres
2B: Daniel Murphy, Nationals
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
3B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
SS: Corey Seager, Dodgers
OF: Adam Duvall, Reds
OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF: Odubel Herrera, Phillies
OF: Marcell Ozuna, Marlins

The rampant ballot-stuffing in Chicago screwed Murphy, the NL's leading hitter, as well as Arenado, among the league leaders in homers, and Seager, a presumptive pick for Rookie of the Year, depending, of course, on how many games Seager played last year to retain rookie status. Dexter Fowler is hoping to come off the DL in time for the game, but if he can't go, I'd tab either Gonzalez, Ozuna, or Duvall, the latter of whom is having the prototypical career year, to fill the vacancy. That said, just the same, Terry Collins has a loaded roster, even if Kershaw, the non-pareil ace of the Dodgers, can't go.

So it comes down to the "final 5" in each league to fill out the rosters. In the AL, fans can choose between now and Friday for:

Ian Kinsler (Detroit)
Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay)
Dustin Pedroia (Boston)
Michael Saunders (Toronto)
George Springer (Houston)

And, in the NL:

Brandon Belt (San Francisco)
Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
Jake Lamb (Arizona)
Starling Marte (Pittsburgh)
Trevor Story (Colorado)

Story got off to a record-setting start in April, and, predictably, has tailed off since. A case can be made for most of these others, too, but do we really need to continue this online vote beyond this year?

In fact, the fans been voting since 1971, and it becomes a parochial popularity contest, more so this year and last, since MLB encourages fans to vote often. Unfortunately, the fans pay little attention to the statistics of players outside of their respective areas, which would explain the Cubs with 5 starters, one of whom was, at last check, on the DL (Fowler), and 7 total. The NFL amended the voting process for the Pro Bowl not long ago, where fan vote accounted for about half of the final tabulation. Of course, they've also scrambled the rosters where it's not by conference anymore, but that's another story.

The way I see it, it should be 50% fan vote, 50% players, coaches, & managers. That way, it reduces the arguments about who gets left off the team. Personally, I wouldn't have minded a couple of extra Mets, but hey.

What do you think?

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