I make this argument every year. Every single year. But I’ve never made it in this forum, so I guess now’s the time.
The MLB All-Star Ballots were released today. On April 22. I absolutely hate that ballots are released so early into the year. What’s the point? There is absolutely no way to ascertain who is All-Star-worthy in April.
Of course, that’s of little concern to most voters, because so many people just pick all of the players from their own favorite team. That’s another annoyance of mine. Maybe it’s me, but while I would like all of my favorite players to be in the All-Star Game, I would like for them to make it on merit. Not because they play for a popular team that gets a lot of coverage on ESPN.
Assuming that every fan only votes 25 times (which is questionable in itself,) a team with 3x the number of fans is going to have more All-Stars. We see it every year, when the AL East and NL East dominate the rosters, and the majority of the “Manager’s Selections” have to go to making up for the poor fan voting.
With the majority of voting moving online, there’s absolutely no reason not to push the voting back to late May or early June — and to qualify the votes. While I would personally love a statistical qualification, I understand that that would be wildly unpopular; but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a games played qualification. This is feasible, solely because the balloting is mostly online.
What’s the matter with a dynamic ballot? One that changes through the season, so that as players qualify at positions, they get added. As they get injured and won’t be able to play in the ASG, they get dropped. As their stats increase and they “qualify” (allowing a statistical qualification), they get added or dropped? I don’t think it’s so crazy. No one would get robbed because they’ve been a great starter all year, but had to be entered as a write-in candidate. Managers wouldn’t have to plug guys in because the fans dropped the ball. It wouldn’t be the Red Sox and Yankees against the Mets and Phillies. I don’t know, I see it as a good thing.
The paper balloting would not suffer, either. I refuse to believe that Major League Baseball teams can print up new programs for every series, but cannot update their ballots for each home game.
The sloppy method we have in place makes the All-Star Game popularity-based, and not merit-based. One of the fixes is to move balloting back. Simply put, not one ballot placed in April can have any reflection on merit. Even if someone is voting for the player with the highest Win Shares through two weeks of baseball, that is not a merit-based selection. Until players get a body of work put together, there’s absolutely no sense in voting for All-Stars.
Now, some might argue that other fans have a different point of view. They want to see their favorite players, so why should I force my views onto them? That is a fair question, but I don’t think moving the voting back infringes on anyone’s ability to vote their allotted twenty-five times.
And I also fail to see how limiting the eligible players to those who at least have met some statistical threshold hurts, either. It’s just annoying to me to hear my friends tell me they voted for their home team’s roster.