MLB All-Star Voting Needs to Be More Than a Popularity Contest

Jon WilsonContributor IIIJune 21, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 12:  (Center) National League All-Star Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants stands with National League All-Star teammates before the start of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When you look back on a baseball player's career, one of the accomplishments that is often highlighted is the number of times that player made the All-Star team.

So when the opportunity arose to vote for San Francisco Giants players to make the 2012 All-Star Game, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Buster Posey is batting .293 in 225 at-bats this year, with a .349 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 36 RBI and was recently half of the battery that pitched a perfect game. He got my vote.

Pablo Sandoval—though he missed just over five weeks with a broken hamate bone in his hand and doesn't have enough at-bats to qualify for any official ranking—is still batting .304 in 135 at-bats, with five home runs and a .365 on-base percentage. He got my vote. 

And let's not forget the Melk Man. Melky Cabrera, arguably the surprise of the season, stepped up to fill Sandoval's offensive void in the third spot for the Giants and became an early NL Most Valuable Player candidate in the process. Cabrera has the second-best batting average in the the majors (.363) and leads the majors in hits (101) and triples (seven). He definitely got my vote. 

But why is there an option to vote for a guy who hasn't played all season, like Freddy Sanchez

Why is there an option to vote for Brandon Crawford who—while he has shown the type of glove to be a starting shortstop—is tied for second-most errors in the majors and is only batting .234?

Beyond the Giants, fans can vote for Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays, Lorenzo Cain from the Kansas City Royals and Gaby Sanchez of the Miami Marlins—three of the 26 guys who are batting under .200 for the season but are still on the fan ballot. There are several more candidates batting .250 or below.  

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard—another pair who haven't played all year—are also on the ballot. 

Don't get me wrong, I like all of those guys. But voting for a player you like isn't enough if he doesn't have the numbers to warrant being one of baseball's best from this season. Especially when number of All-Star appearances go onto a player's Hall of Fame resume.  

While fans are ultimately the ones that are dumping money into the teams and the league and certainly deserve a vote for that reason, there needs to be a shorter list of names to choose from.

There needs to be minimum criteria that must be met before a player can even have his name on the ballot, such as minimum batting average in a minimum number of at-bats, or even a minimum league ranking in batting average, RBI and on-base percentage at a player's position. 

Sure, the league undoubtedly wants to appease fans by giving the option to vote for one player from each team at each position, and I'll even go as far as to give voters the benefit of the doubt when it comes to voting for who is most deserving. 

But Major League Baseball has done a decent job of making its annual All-Star game competitive, so there is no point in taking a risk of lowering the level of competition and penalizing more deserving players in the process. Not when players' legacies are at stake.    

I'd love to hear your suggestions for improving the fairness of All-Star voting, while still giving the fans what they want to see.