The results of the Final Vote have been tallied, and Freddie Freeman and Steve Delabar are officially going to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.
I speak on behalf of everyone who follows any MLB personalities on Twitter when I say thank heavens that's finished. Now we can finally get back to reading about important breaking news on Twitter, like free slurpee day and whatever dumb thing Justin Bieber is doing today.
The good news is that the fans did a fantastic job, and I've got five reasons why.
*All statistics are courtesy of Fangraphs.com and ESPN.com
With all due respect to both of them, Tanner Scheppers and Adrian Gonzalez were the odd men out.
For Scheppers, the argument simply comes down to looking at WAR.
Entering play on Thursday, four of the five nominees for the American League's final vote were ranked in the top 13 in WAR among AL relievers. Scheppers, on the other hand, was tied for 55th and registering a 0.2 WAR. Sorry, but if you're practically a replacement-level player, you don't deserve to be on the All-Star team.
And before you go crying about his low ERA, let it be known that the difference between his ERA and FIP is by far the largest among the 205 pitchers who have logged at least 40 innings this season. That means he is expected to experience more negative regression in the second half of the season than any other pitcher.
As far as Gonzalez is concerned, he's the only one of the NL nominees that I didn't have in my projected All-Star rosters last week. My exclusion of him from consideration isn't so much hatred for him as it is love for the other options.
If you compare him directly to Freddie Freeman, they're almost identical. So for me to say that Freeman is clearly more deserving than Gonzalez is a little crazy.
But then there's Yasiel Puig.
Not only does Gonzalez have to be a better first baseman than Freeman, but he also has to be a better Dodger than Puig. With both of those being debatable comparisons at best, I honestly have to wonder why they even put Gonzalez on the ballot instead of someone like Starling Marte or Shin-Soo Choo.
Though still just 23 years old, Freddie Freeman has already gone through a litany of injuries during his baseball career.
Freeman batted .282 and hit 21 home runs in 2011, ultimately finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Craig Kimbrel.
Fans were understandably optimistic that 2012 would be an even more impressive season. Things certainly seemed to be going that way in early May. At the end of the day on May 4, 2012, Freeman was batting .302 and on pace for 30 home runs and 126 RBI.
But then the vision problems occurred. By the time he started getting his eyesight back, Jose Reyes darn near broke his left index finger. By late June, he was batting .247 and mired in something of a sophomore slump. It's frankly a bit amazing he finished the season with 23 home runs.
Freeman got off to another hot start in 2013, but landed on the disabled list with an oblique injury just one week into the season.
The home runs have been few and far between this year—and have all come at home, save for the one he hit at Citi Field in late May—but he's seeing the ball better than ever before. His strikeouts are down from previous years, and he entered play on Wednesday with the 10th-best OBP in the National League.
Once he puts it all together, he's looking like the type of guy who could bat .310 and hit 35 home runs per season. Though he isn't there yet, you can't fault the fans for recognizing and rewarding that potential.
A few days ago, I was scrolling through the dearth of pitching options in my fantasy baseball league. I had just lost Ryan Howard and Matt Kemp to the disabled list in the span of a weekend and suddenly had the roster space to consider adding a relief pitcher.
After applying some of my favorite filters available for the waiver wire (last 30 days sorted in descending order of K/9), I thought for sure I was looking at a typographical error:
Steve Delabar: 10.0 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 24 K
In all of the years that I've been scouring the list of free agents, I can't recall ever seeing anything that absurd.
(Naturally, I picked him up and he gave up a run without recording a strikeout in his first appearance for my team.)
I have no earthly idea why we're being forced to choose a sixth relief pitcher for the AL roster. However, assuming the goal is to elect the guy most capable of coming in to face one batter and strike him out, it's hard to argue that there's a better option right now than Delabar.
His 18.90 K/9 in the month of June was the highest among all qualified relievers.
If one month is a large enough sample size to consider Yasiel Puig a potential All-Star, then I would argue that one week is a large enough sample size to discover some regression to the mean.
As you may have heard once or twice, Puig was a golden god in the month of June. The only players on the same level as Puig during that month were Miguel Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. If All-Star Games were based on one month of play, he should have gotten the most votes in the National League.
July hasn't been anywhere near as kind to him.
I'm not afraid to admit that I was one of the masses who wanted Puig in the All-Star Game a week ago, but pitchers are clearly beginning to discover a way to beat him by using his aggressiveness against him.
Puig ranks 16th in the majors when it comes to swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. That would be just fine if he was Pablo Sandoval or Vladimir Guerrero and was capable of hitting anything within 30 feet of the plate.
However, his lack of plate discipline has propelled him to the top of the swinging-strike leaderboard. Puig is good for a swinging strike in 18.8 percent of the pitches thrown to him. Chris Carter leads the majors in strikeouts, but his rate is just 15.0 percent. Even notorious whiffers Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton come in just below 17.0 percent.
I'm not completely jumping off the Puig bandwagon. I'm just saying that his discipline at the plate is poor enough that I wouldn't like his chances of coming in as a pinch hitter and putting the ball in play against some of the best relief pitchers the American League has to offer.
At the end of the day, the Final Vote is nothing more than a popularity contest.
To say that the fans picked the wrong player would be the equivalent of complaining that the wrong singer got voted off of American Idol. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about who the best option is, but you really have no one but yourself to blame if your favorite person didn't get enough votes.
If the voting truly was unlimited and you were fully dedicated to your cause, you could have voted 28,080 times by texting one vote every 15 seconds since the voting started.
That might seem a bit crazy, but is it really as insane as being angry about the results of the final vote?
Though I previously singled out Adrian Gonzalez and Tanner Scheppers as the wrong options, each of the 10 players on the ballot was worthy of consideration. My personal votes were for Ian Desmond and Koji Uehara, but it would have neither shocked nor upset me if they had both finished in last place.
On a related side note, saying that the fans couldn't possibly screw up the Final Vote does not imply that they are incapable of erring when selecting the starting lineup. So long as this exhibition game continues to mean something in the long run, it is the responsibility of the fans to elect the most deserving players.
We did a much better job than in years past, but there's still room for improvement. I'm looking at you, people who voted for Brandon Phillips instead of Matt Carpenter.
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