Yes, by ‘popularity contest’ I’m referring to what is also known as the All-Star Game. For years now it’s been more of a popularity contest than a game of the year’s best players on showcase. With internet voting, fans being blinded by their own teams, and people simply wanting to see name players, the All-Star Game certainly doesn’t hold the merit that it used to for some of us. Let’s take a look at the current voting situations and you will see what I’m getting at.
Tino Martinez is leading the way with numbers of .245-12-30 with 28 runs scored. That’s the top 1B in the AL this season? That’s the best year that anyone’s put together yet? Mark Teixeira’s only sitting in fourth place in the voting with numbers of .295-13-38 and 39 runs. Yet, Tino’s leading the way and Tex is sitting in fourth? Crazy.
Pujols sits at the top of the voting list with numbers of .332-12-42 with 38 runs. Good solid numbers that put the AL’s first baggers to shame, but sitting in second with less than half the votes Pujols has is Derrek Lee and his line of .389-17-50 with 43 runs, and nine steals for good measure. Pujols is having a good season as usual, but no one tops Lee so far and he should be the one voted in based on performance.
Brian Roberts is actually leading the vote here much to my surprise. Roberts is having a fantastic season with numbers of .368-11-33 with 39 runs and 13 steals. It seems as if quite a few voters have noticed, but certainly not enough, as Roberts is just barely ahead of Alfonso Soriano (by roughly 1,500 votes) and his .282-14-33 with 41 runs and eight steals. With any luck, the remaining voters will make sure Roberts gets the trip to the All-Star Game like he deserves.
Jeff Kent leads the way here and while his average isn’t mighty, the rest of his numbers are solid with a line of .255-10-39 with 36 runs. A case can be made for Chase Utley now that he’s getting regular at bats and has put up numbers of .305-9-25 with 21 runs and five steals. Had Utley been a starter on day one of the season, this could easily be a very debatable situation. The way it stands right now though, it’s a toss-up between the two of them for me.
Tejada leads Jeter and Tejada’s beating Jeter across the board except for steals. Both are having fine seasons, so the voters are getting it right on this one.
Ok, I said Tino over Tex for 1B in the AL was crazy, but this is just downright insane. Nomar Garciaparra is leading the voting? He hit .157 in 51 at bats, zero homers, and is currently on the DL for most of the remainder of the season? A case can be made for more guys than I can list, but the obvious guy that’s being overlooked is Clint Barmes. Barmes has quietly put up a line of .324-7-30 with 37 runs and four steals. Yet he’s sitting in fifth in the voting and Nomar is at #1. This is the insanity of the popularity contest known as the All-Star Game at its finest.
No shock or argument here. A-Rod’s leading the way and has the numbers to be there. Hard to argue .313-17-49 with 43 runs and four steals. What’s odd is that Bill Mueller is sitting at #2 in the voting with a line of .264-2-15 with 22 runs. He’s above Mora’s .298-10-31 with 33 runs and six steals, and he’s also ahead of Hank Blalock’s .288-9-30 with 29 runs. A-Rod will win it and deserves it, but it’s pretty pathetic that Mueller is sitting second when there are other guys that deserve to be noticed.
Tough one here. Scott Rolen is leading the way but has missed significant time on the DL while Glaus has mashed 13 homers, 39 rbi’s, and 30 runs. Troy Glaus is only hitting .262, but Rolen was only hitting .257 when he hit the DL. Hard to say on this one who’s really more deserving, so if either of those two win it, there won’t be an argument from me.
Jason Varitek’s line of .315-10-22 with 26 runs leads the way and that’s how this one should be. No one is having a better year than Varitek so far. No argument from me here, either.
Want to talk about popularity? We’ve got Mike Piazza against Ramon Hernandez here. Who? How about .244-6-26 with 20 runs vs. .293-6-29 with 25 runs? Piazza’s has the better numbers, right? Wrong. The better line belongs to Hernandez, yet Piazza is sitting #1 while Hernandez isn’t even in the top five in the voting.
Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero, and Ichiro lead the pack. Vlad was having a pretty good season before the shoulder injury with .303-7-24 with 24 runs and five steals. Ichiro’s being solid as usual with a line of .321-3-16 with 38 runs and 15 steals. Ramirez is only hitting .257, but has managed to mash 11 home runs, 43 rbi’s, and scored 29 times. With those as the leaders, how does Gary Sheffield and his .323-9-36 with 31 runs and six steals get left off? Also, how is Sosa and his .243-5-17 with 14 runs sitting in sixth? Some odd stuff in this one, but not nearly as nuts as the NL’s OF.
Carlos Beltran, Jim Edmonds, and Ken Griffey are the leaders. Beltran has a line of .294-7-27 with 25 runs and has missed time due to injury. Edmonds has a line of .280-10-33 with 32 runs, and Griffy’s line is .267-8-36 with 23 runs. Now how does Bobby Abreu’s .337-12-37 with 38 runs and 14 steals not make the cut? How about Miguel Cabrera’s .362-10-34 with 36 runs? Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that Barry Bonds hasn’t had a single at bat this season, yet he’s sitting in 13th place in the voting.
So as you can see, we’re not going to get to see the best performers of the year at the All-Star Game. It’s the same old popularity contest it has been for a while now. Maybe someday the voters will wake up and actually want to see the guys who are excelling get the recognition that they deserve. Until then, all we can do is shake our heads in amazement at the snub list and point out how sad it is that some very deserving guys get left off simply due to name recognition of other players.
My final thought is that I hope each and every single person who reads this submits their vote for the players who are earning a trip to the All-Star Game, instead of voting for the guy whose name you easily recognize. The guys who are performing deserve the honor of being an All-Star and we have the power to reward them for their excellent play. Let’s make sure we use that power to get them there.
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