MLB needs to rethink fan voting process for All-Star Game
A 14-year veteran at the Major League level, Kansas City Royals second baseman Omar Infante would be the first to tell you that he's not playing his best baseball. At .217/.226/.300, Infante is struggling at the plate and is -0.4 WAR ranks him 11th among American League second basemen, according to FanGraphs.
Yet, there is a chance that Infante could be the starting second baseman for the American League All-Star team.
As of June 8th American League ballot tally, Infante was one of nine Royals players that are either leading or within striking distance of a starting spot in the 2015 All-Star Game. Nine spots in the line-up, nine Kansas City Royals players. Currently, seven of those nine are slated to start, with Eric Hosmer (1B), Mike Moustakas (3B), Alcides Escobar (SS), Salvador Perez (C), Alex Gordon (LF), Lorenzo Cain (CF), and Kendrys Morales (DH) collecting the most votes at their respective positions. Additionally, Infante ranks second among second basemen (159,315 behind Jose Altuve) and Alex Rios is fourth among outfielders. Four of those players have more total votes than Angels' outfielder Mike Trout.
Yeah, there is something broken here in the process.
Now, you can't blame Royals fans for stuffing the virtual ballot boxes. They're just supporting their team and trying to pay them back for a glorious 2014 season and a great start to 2015. Additionally, most of these players are having fine seasons so far.
No, this problem lies at the source; Major League Baseball. By allowing fans to submit an unlimited amount of votes, Major League Baseball encourages such behavior, albeit they give that same advantage to all fans. However, that isn't likely to change anytime soon. MLB has advertising revenue tied to each impression and refresh the screen receives after each new vote is cast, giving the league a vested interest in keeping you engaged with the site longer.
It's too bad it doesn't give the same vested interest to the purity of the game.
Now, I'm not railing on about trying to eliminate the fan vote. I think it is important that the league engages the fans and makes them involved in the game itself. However, there needs to be an adjustment as to how much impact those votes truly have on the game, especially if MLB is going to insist that it continues to determine home field advantage in the World Series.
Major League Baseball needs to institute a weighted process to the roster selection. Whether it be player/coaches voting for their peers or some incorporation of the plethora of statistics available to the game today, there has to be a way to reward the best players in the game with an All-Star selection rather than just those players with the loudest fan base. A merger of the popular vote and common sense must find a way to prevail.
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