In life, three things are certain: death, taxes and deserving ballplayers in the major leagues will get snubbed.
Fortunately, baseball fans today play a key role in determining the fate of excellent players on the bubble.
As applied to this year’s MLB All-Star “Final Vote” contest, fans spoke loud, proud and often, crushing online voting records in the process.
On Thursday, MLB.com writer Mark Newman reported that Texas Rangers rookie hurler Yu Darvish and St. Louis Cardinals budding third baseman David Freese gained the two final slots for the 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City.
Darvish won out over pitchers Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox), Jason Hammel (Baltimore Orioles), Jonathan Broxton (Kansas City Royals) and Ernesto Frieri (LA Angels).
Freese beat Michael Bourn (Atlanta Braves), Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) and Aaron Hill (Arizona Diamondbacks).
For Darvish and Freese, their first All-Star game selections were well-deserved.
But selection of one player may be perceived as more of a great story rather than better play when stacked against rivals.
Regardless, in this slideshow, I show how fans got it right by comparing Darvish and Freese to those they defeated.
Statistics provided by ESPN and are current as of final day of MLB voting.
Perhaps unlike any other foreign-born pitcher, Darvish was under the gun to perform immediately after arriving in America.
While this 25-year-old has had hiccups in his rookie year, Darvish has certainly pitched like an all-star for Texas this season.
But was Darvish better than his competition in All-Star voting?
Here's how Darvish stacked up against fellow starting pitchers Peavy and Hammel.
Darvish also competed against two relievers, who often face uphill battles to make all-star teams. I added Baltimore Orioles reliever Darren O’Day—who was not in the running—to show just how competitive things can be for relievers.
Some fans might say Darvish plays for a much better team and receives better run support than his competitors. To this, fans certainly have a valid argument.
On the other hand, other fans may argue Darvish has performed brilliantly under pressure, all the while adjusting to American’s brand of baseball and way of life.
Perhaps it was this latter fact that inspired baseball fans to give the slightest edge to Darvish over Peavy—although Peavy had better numbers, minus wins and losses.
Or maybe Rangers fans were just really committed to blowing up ballot boxes.
Like Darvish, Freese is a deserving All-Star. But his situation is a little different.
Freese has built upon momentum from a terrific 2011 postseason, which culminated in him earning the World Series MVP.
This season, Freese is batting .285 (81-for-284) with 13 homers and 50 RBI. He also has 13 doubles to go with a OBP/SLG/OPS of .333/.475/.808.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Here's how Freese stacked up against his competition.
If I were Bourn or Hill, I may feel like I had just got bit by the snub bug. Minus power numbers, Bourn and Hill have both had better seasons than Freese.
While Bourn has been a catalyst leadoff hitter for the Braves, Hill has been excellent as well. Not to mention Hill cycled twice in one season.
Defensively, Freese has been terrific. Per ESPN, his .974 fielding percentage is second among MLB third basemen. Bourn’s fielding percentage is .990, which is tenth among center fielders. Hill’s .989 fielding percentage is seventh among second baseman. And Harper’s .967 fielding percentage is 22nd among outfielders.
Perhaps Freese’s defense put him over the edge when fans matched him up against his competitors.
I assess fans may have seen Freese as a better storyline, in that he will have the opportunity to join his former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa one last time, also reported by Newman.
If this is the case, then that is fine. After all, Freese has certainly shown to be a great all-around player for St. Louis
At the same time, I can see how fans in Atlanta and Arizona could be stomping their feet on this subject.