If You’ve Got An Axe, You Might As Well Grind It

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. 


  1. juliasrants

    I’ll have to admit – I voted once today. Yes – they are all Red Sox votes – but I will save my other votes for later in the season so that I can vote for who really deserves it. I don’t think there are any all-stars quite yet.


  2. roundrock15

    Exactly, no one is an All-Star in fewer than fifteen games. It just has never made sense to me. It would be one thing if people really voted just 25 times, but let’s be honest. All you have to do is have multiple email accounts, and you can pretty much vote as often as you’d like.

    Meh. I always feel like a curmudgeon when I talk about this. People are free to vote as they see fit; I just think it’s a bad system.


  3. cubfan_joe

    I’m with you that it is too early to start voting for All-Stars. I don’t think fans should have a say so of who gets in and who doesn’t either, just because the All Star game determines who has home field advantage in the World Series. How does Major League Baseball put that kind of importance in the hands of baseball fans? The managers should choose the All-Stars.

  4. roundrock15

    You know, that’s a great point (You sure you’re a Cubs fan? jk)… if we’re placing this new-found importance on the winner of the ASG by giving home field advantage to the winners’ league, then why not at least vet the players?

    If your team has a legitimate shot at making the WS, what’s to prevent you from “tanking” the other league? I don’t think that’s very common, but it is something to think about. That’s why, at the very least, I think there should be some qualifications placed on who gets in. I like the fan vote, but I always think of the year when Nomar Garciaparra got voted in despite missing something like two months with an injury.


  5. cubfan_joe

    Haha, yes I’m a Cub fan. I’m far away from being the sterotypical one though. But anyway the World Series is far too important to have a basically a game that shouldn’t mean much. The fan vote takes too much away from players deserving to get in, and like I said the fan vote basically decides home field advantage for the World Series.

  6. roundrock15

    One “compromise” a friend and I came up with a few years ago was to make a list of 4-5 players at each position, and then to let the fans vote on those players. Of course, then the argument would become which statistics to use, but it’s inherently a better system, even using pure Triple Crown statistics.

    Or have the league’s General Managers determine the roster, then give it to the fans to vote the starters out of that roster.


  7. cubfan_joe

    I see a lot of flaws by selecting from a list of four or five. First off, like you said which statistics to use. If Jose Reyes for example is batting .260, but has 35-40 stolen bases half way through the season, and Tejada is batting .300 with only ten homeruns which player is more valuable on that list between the two? They just should let the managers vote plain and simple. Its hard to say who is more valuable over another without using advanced statistics, which most common fans who do vote for these All-Stars don’t know.

  8. roundrock15

    I guess that, in my plan, using something Runs Created or VORP as the standard, you create a pool of players and say “All of these players are qualified.” You then give it to the fans to make whatever ridiculous choices they want to make. Granted, if Dustin Pedroia is up at second base against, say, Alexi Casilla, Mark Ellis, and Jose Lopez… you know who’s getting in. So there’s a flaw there. But I think it’s a decent compromise… that way the guy that gets in may not be the BEST, but he’s still at least ONE OF the best.

    Not that I don’t agree with you that fan voting is, ultimately, detrimental; and that there’s too much at stake. But I liken it to the Pro Bowl… no one has anything vested in the Pro Bowl, so no one cares (true, it’s also after the season, which doesn’t help.) I think I’m just worried that taking away fan voting entirely might be too drastic a step.


  9. Cockroach

    Benito Santiago. That’s the name I always think of when fan voting comes up. He won RoY in 1987, lost to legend Gary Carter in ’88 AS voting, then was voted to four straight All-Star starts when he probably deserved none of them. But the public knew his name because of his one great year in ’87, so he got picked to start, and more deserving lesser-knowns (like a young Craig Biggio) sat on the bench or stayed home. Now, I do like fan voting. I’ve often been guilty in the past of casting all-Astros ballots, because I know other fans DO stuff the ballot box for their teams, and I want our guys to have an equal shot even though we’re on a less popular team. But I definitely hear what you’re saying, and last year, I waited until May or June and tried to vote based on merit. I’m not sure what the best solution would be.

  10. greg1969

    I couldn’t agree with you more, RoundRock. Why in the WORLD do they even THINK about balloting for the All-Star Game? NO WONDER the voting gets skewed! Let them play some baseball before we vote on anything, or anyone!Where’s my axe? I’ll grind it! Well said!

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