It shouldn’t be a popularity contest.
The All-Star Game voting relies on the public to decide which players get to start in the Midsummer Classic and those who might not even make the squad—and that’s wrong. Often times, undeserving players get voted in because they’re the fan favorites and not because they’re having a better year than others at their position.
Here’s what the fans are saying about who should start the All-Star Game for the American League and the National League, per MLB.com. While the public has gotten most of the races correct, there are a few that are off. These are the instances where better players who have earned the right to start at Citi Field likely won't be.
While whether the game should count or not, or whether home-field advantage matters in the World Series or not, the All-Star Game needs to be more about the best players. Yes, the league wants it to be about the fans, but it’s more than a flawed system. The smaller dog is almost never going to win the fight.
These are the players who had played well enough where they should be in the starting lineup for their respective league. At the moment, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, and that’s a problem.
Matt Carpenter, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
It doesn’t seem likely that Matt Carpenter is going to get the additional 300,000 or so votes in order to top Brandon Phillips for the second-base starting job. That just doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that Carpenter has been miles better than Phillips throughout the first half of the season.
Carpenter leads all National League second basemen in WAR, per FanGraphs, and it’s not even close. Carpenter has a 4.2 WAR on the year, while Phillips is only at 1.9. They both are similar fielders and baserunners, meaning that the difference comes entirely from their production at the plate.
Carpenter leads Phillips in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, and runs. The only major statistics that the Reds second baseman has on the Cardinals second baseman is home runs—by four—and RBI—by 28. The edge has to go to Carpenter in this debate.
So, why does Phillips have more votes? Well, Reds fans do everything in their power to get their players the most votes, as they should. If they have that kind of power, why not use it? Phillips will be heading to his third career All-Star Game while Carpenter has to hope that he lands one of the bench roles for the NL.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox
It’s very interesting that the Boston Red Sox own the best record in the American League and the Pittsburgh Pirates own the best record in the National League, and yet, they may only have one starter total at Citi Field on July 16. While the NL is a different story, the focus here is on Jacoby Ellsbury, who might not make the team.
The leading American League outfield vote getters are Mike Trout, Adam Jones and Jose Bautista. Trout and Bautista deserve the starting nods, as they’ve been great this season. While Jones and the Orioles have been good, there are players who deserve to start even more. Enter Ellsbury.
In terms of value—or WAR—Ellsbury has been the third-best outfielder in the Junior Circuit to start the season, per FanGraphs. Do you happen to know where Jones is? He’s 14th on the list. You could make the case that Brett Gardner, Colby Rasmus, Alex Gordon and many others deserve to start. Jones really doesn’t.
The votes likely fall in Jones’ favor because he’s a power hitter. He has 15 homers and 59 RBI on the year. But Ellsbury does a little bit of everything to help Boston win. Do you know where that has him on in the most recent All-Star Game voting results? He’s eighth on the list. Like I said, he might not make the team.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
This season at first base in the National League, it’s been Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto, and then everyone else. No other first basemen in the Senior Circuit has a 1.7 WAR, per FanGraphs. Goldschmidt and Votto each have a 3.3. Thankfully, the fans have those two guys atop the list in the voting, but they have them flip-flopped.
Goldschmidt should start over Votto. While the two have both been outstanding this season, the emerging star from the Diamondbacks has been better in several categories. If you want to put defense and baserunning into the equation, do so, but Goldschmidt clearly gets the nod.
On offense, it’s a tight race. Goldschmidt definitely has been the better power hitter, but Votto has been more consistent. Goldschmidt has the lead in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. Votto has the lead in runs, batting average and on-base percentage. See what I’m talking about?
This one could really go either way. What Goldschmidt has done for the Diamondbacks, though, is more impressive than what Votto has done for the Reds. Goldschmidt has made his team a contender in 2013. If Arizona makes the playoffs, he should be an MVP candidate. For now, he should just be in the NL starting lineup.