The 2012 MLB All-Star Game is just a week away, but the rosters—especially from the National League—are proving that “All-Star” means “Most Popular” in the minds of baseball fans.
The purpose of the All-Star Game is supposed to pit the best players from the American League against the best players from the National League, but some of the starting players on the roster are creating cause for concern.
Let’s take a look at some of the players from the National League roster to determine whether or not they are the most popular players or actually the best players in baseball.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
The “Panda” is undoubtedly one of the most loved players in baseball. From those furry black and white hats to his goofy grin, who doesn’t love the Panda? But is he actually the best third baseman in baseball?
In 2010, when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, he might have been, but now his statistics prove that he isn’t.
If voting were based upon statistics rather than popularity, the starting third baseman would be David Wright from the New York Mets. Let’s compare the two: Sandoval is hitting .300, has 25 RBI and an on-base percentage of .362, whereas Wright is hitting .354 (the best for a third basemen in the National League), has 50 RBI and an on-base percentage of .447.
I know Sandoval sat out a few games due to injury, but clearly there are better third basemen in the National League, so clearly he was voted as a starter because the fans liked him.
Matt Kemp, OF
Kemp has definitely had a tumultuous season so far with hamstring problems and other medical issues, but this Los Angeles favorite is just that—a favorite. In the past, he may have been more of an MVP than he is today, and his statistics tell that story quite nicely. Kemp has 12 home runs and 28 RBI to his name, which is definitely an impressive feat. However, his numbers are not the best.
In fact, most of the reserve outfielders on the National League roster should be starting over Kemp. Take Ryan Braun, for example. The Milwaukee Brewer was snubbed by the fans, not receiving enough votes to make him a starter even though he boasts 22 home runs and 55 RBI—almost double what Kemp has.
In my mind, voters (especially ones from Los Angeles) remembered the old Kemp—the one they want to see play—rather than the injured man he is today.
In order to make the All-Star selection process more fair, the players should do the voting. Take a look at Sandoval’s teammate, Matt Cain, who will be a pitcher for the National League in this year’s All-Star Game. Cain, who has been called the most underrated pitcher in baseball, was voted to the team by his fellow players. Yes, Cain is a popular Giant, but he’s also talented and being recognized by his competition holds more weight than simply being liked by the fans.