Since 1969, the fans have been the deciding vote on who gets to start in the MLB All-Star Game and most years the fans make the correct decisions.
However, this year a team which has been a doormat more often than not has risen as a leading contender and their fans have come out of the woodwork to vote for their guys to start in the Midsummer Classic.
This has led to rampant accusations of ballot stuffing and calls to abolish fan voting altogether. If this sounds familiar, I could have written these same lines last year only this time we’re talking about the Cubs rushing the ballot box as opposed to the Royals.
As of this writing, the Cubs are leading the voting in every category but catcher and they hold wide leads at third base and first base.
Now granted, the Cubs are the best team in baseball this season, but the degree to which they are dominating the balloting hasn’t been seen since, well, last season when the Royals similarly dominated early polls before sending four players to the All-Star game.
The question is which of these players are actually deserving of their spot at the top of the polls? Today, we will look at each position where the Cubs lead and try to determine if the player at the top deserves to be there.
Anthony Rizzo leads the polls at this position with a .277 batting average, 17 home runs and 54 RBIs. I think Rizzo is actually a great choice as a starter. Paul Goldschmidt and Wil Myers both have cases, but Rizzo has been the total package this season and deserves his spot.
The versatile Ben Zobrist is the Cub in question here and while he is having an all-star caliber season, there is someone else more deserving of his spot as a starter.
That would be Daniel Murphy who has hit 45 points higher, connected on three more home runs and driven in five more RBis. No question for me who is having the better season.
This is to me is the most egregious example of bad fan voting. Nolan Arenado of the Rockies is the best third baseman in baseball this season and yet he trails Kris Bryants by almost 500 thousand votes.
Even when you discount the Coors Field effect, Arenado is also arguably the best defensive third baseman in baseball. I sincerely hope the voting swings to Arenado because there is no reason why he shouldn’t start.
This one is another doozy. Addison Russell leads All-Star voting with a less than stellar .239 average, six home runs and 37 RBIs.
There are several shortstops more deserving, but let’s name two in particular. Corey Seager has put up an impressive .289/16/37 stat line and Trevor Story has ridden a hot start to a .266/18/48 line.
I can’t see an argument for Russell starting over either of those guys.
This is a position where three players get selected and the Cubs have two players in contention. Dexter Fowler is leading the category while Jason Heyward is just outside in fourth place.
Bryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes round out the current leaders. I think Cespedes belongs as a starter, but Fowler, Harper and Heyward just don’t feel right given their current seasons.
As for who should replace them, Marcell Ozuna of the Marlins isn’t even in the top-15 but is batting .322 with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs this season and Jay Bruce has had an incredible comeback year, batting .281 and leading all National League outfielders with 55 RBIs.
While there are arguments to be made for the benefit of fan voting, the last two years have shown there are definite flaws. I am hopeful MLB will look at the system in the offseason and find a way to avoid bandwagon balloting and make sure the right players get to start.
Whether or not that means removing the fan’s ability to vote and putting it back in the hands of players and managers remains to be seen.