5 Ways to Fix the MLB All-Star Voting Process
There is always controversy when the rosters for the MLB All-Star Game are announced. Some players are snubbed, some players should not have been included, and some should be starting but are on the bench.
At the least, the voting process gives fans and the media great material for debate. But if it always produces such laughable results, shouldn't it be changed?
Over the years, there have been many different voting systems and ideas for improving it but no one has found a perfect solution.
Look to History
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In the 1930s and 1940s, the manager chose his league's entire roster. That was ultimately abandoned because it led to managers picking undeserving players from their own team.
Fans have since inherited the right to vote their favorite players into the starting lineup, with the managers selecting the reserves. In 2003, player voting was added to help select reserves in an effort to avoid managerial bias.
Each of the old systems was changed because they were flawed, but the present one is far from perfect. Combining the player and fan votes while eliminating managerial selections altogether might result in more deserving players making the roster.
Let Fans Vote for More
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The fans get it wrong a lot of the time. This year has been surprisingly decent but there are still some mistakes, such as Pablo Sandoval starting over David Wright at third base and Mike Napoli starting over A.J. Pierzynski at catcher.
Fan voting was introduced in 1970 but is still limited to the eight starting position players and the DH. This could be expanded to include the pitchers, or the reserves.
Let Players Earn It
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Quantifying the value or the production of a major league player has proven to be an impossible task for over 100 years. The closest anyone has come to boiling it down to a single number is WAR (wins above replacement) and even that is flawed.
MLB will never go down the route of a purely numbers-based election system because it would completely remove the fans. However, a hybrid system could work, with the fans voting for the players, and the managers selecting the most deserving starters from the elected pool.
Not Every Team Needs an All-Star
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Major League Baseball has this ridiculous notion that all 30 teams need to have a representative. The reason why is obvious—to avoid alienating fans who have none of their team's players to watch—but it cheapens the game.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the All-Star Game means something, as the winning league gets home-field advantage for the World Series. Surely you would want the best players on the field to give you the best chance of winning.
The Commissioner's Office clearly disagrees, and has instituted a system that guarantees undeserving players will get the honor of playing in the Midsummer Classic.
If this was just an exhibition, it wouldn't matter so much, but it's not anymore. This game has a real effect on the eventual champion, should the World Series go to seven games as it did last year.
Test Fans Before They Vote
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The problem with allowing everyone to vote 25 times for each email account they use is that they can effectively stuff the ballot box. (Granted, they will have to be busy when players are receiving over 11 million votes.)
You can vote for your favourite player and vote often, which leads to instances like Derek Jeter making the team in 2011 despite having his worst career batting average and only three home runs.
So how about, on the ballot paper, in the section where one puts in an email address and date of birth, there is a test question. Nothing hard, but something which every baseball fan knowledgeable enough to cast a vote should know, like who the commissioner of the MLB is.
If you're just voting for David Ortiz because you're from Boston but know nothing about baseball, your vote doesn't count. Also, it will irk people enough to stop them spamming 100 ballots every half-hour.
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